Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Chinatrust softens stance on card-savvy customer

BACKING DOWN After the Consumers' Foundation stepped in, the bank toned down its threats against a woman who made US$31,300 on a bank card scheme

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the nonprofit Consumers' Foundation (消基會) acting as a mediator, Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託) yesterday said it will seek ways to resolve disputes with a cardholder who was accused by the bank of misusing the bank's cards.

Local Chinese-language media reported recently that Chinatrust card holder Yang Hui-ju (楊蕙如) made profits of more than NT$1 million (US$31,300) over the past three months just by swiping her Chinatrust credit cards.

Yang, a 27-year-old Taitung citizen, reportedly bought about NT$6 million of gift cards online, and then sold them to her relatives, or bought them back herself with her credit card to accumulate bonus points.

Yang then exchanged the large amount of bonuses for 20 first-class air tickets from Chinatrust, and auctioned the tickets online to earn money. She used such schemes together with selling her remaining points to make more than NT$1 million, according to the reports.

The move exasperated Chinatrust, which invalidated her credit cards last Wednesday and, the following day, halted the cards held by her parents, sister and aunt on suspicion that they colluded with each other to conduct fraudulent card transactions for ill-gotten gains.

This consumer versus big conglomerate battle triggered heated discussions in Internet chat rooms, with many praising Yang's cleverness while lambasting Chinatrust for creating a tempest in a teacup.

Yang plans to file a lawsuit against the bank, and insists that she used her credit cards in compliance with the rules and that the financial institution has no right to cancel their cards.

Following a two-hour closed-door negotiation mediated by the Consumers' Foundation, Chinatrust agreed to drop any possible criminal action against Yang, and said that her consumption behaviors did not involve deception via collusion, said Terry Huang (黃怡騰), the foundation's secretary general, during a phone interview.

The bank agreed that their argument with Yang is only a civil dispute, he added.

The foundation requested that the bank activate the Yang family's credit immediately, but Chinatrust said they need to discuss it with company officials before taking any action.

Michael Chang (張智銓), director of the credit card division, said the bank still needs to decide whether it will demand compensation, such as retrieving the bonus points Yang obtained from her credit cards, and whether

the Yang family can continue on as Chinatrust's customers.

The bank promised to report back to the foundation by noon today, said Wu Cheng-hsuel (吳政學), ombudsman of the Cabinet-level Consumer Protection Commission, who also attended the meeting.

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