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Is Pentagon Federal the Wells Fargo of credit unions?

Posted by John Reed on

Years ago I had a Pentagon Federal CU Visa card that my wife said to use to buy gasoline because of some frequent buyer rebate. After using it for a couple of years, I canceled it, destroyed it, and, obviously, stopped using it.

But Pentagon Federal Credit Union seems to be some sort of credit card roach motel. You can check in, but you can’t check out. Or maybe they are copying Wells Fargo’s practice of charging customers for credit cards they did not want. Or maybe their association with the SNAFU Pentagon means the employees in question graduated from Kafkaesque Bureaucrat School and are using that training.

They say my account is “past due.” No, it passed away. The only thing that is past due is professional, competent, honest behavior at Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

I asked what charge was put on my card and when. They refuse to tell me. I suspect there are no charges since I destroyed it other than annual membership fees.

When I tell them what I just told you, they pretend all I did was ask if my account is past due and say, “Yes, it is.”

This sounds like the sort of behavior one expected of the DMV back in the day. Nowadays, at least here in CA, the DMV is quite nice and efficient. The image of credit unions, on the other hand, was warm and fuzzy affinity group members—fellow soldiers and combat veterans in this case.

I was never stationed at the Pentagon while I was an officer, but I noticed that whenever being stationed at the Pentagon was mentioned to an officer who had been there, he shuddered visibly and winced at the memory. Apparently, Pentagon Federal Credit Union is similar to its namesake institution—nightmarish.

Have any other readers had problems of this nature with Pentagon Federal Credit Union? If so, were you able to locate a decent human being at the credit union who had the sense of responsibility and authority to fix such problems? I would like that person’s name and contact information if you did.

I was a member of PFCU because after graduating from West Point, I joined West Point Federal Credit Union. If I recall correctly, they appeared to offer better car loans and such to West Point grads. I remember no problems with West Point Federal Credit Union, but they were taken over by Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

Update on my Pentagon Federal Credit Union dispute

I sent a message to the Chairman of the Board through their Web site. The COB solicits comments from members there.

The next day I was called by a very nice woman who apologized and assured me that all the charges would be removed and my credit rating cleared of the past-due account libel. She also agreed to send an email to me and Quicken Loans saying the past-due status was a mistake and has been removed.

We are currently applying for a mortgage on a condo we just bought jointly with one of our sons. We did not need the mortgage, but wanted our son to have one in order to bolster his excellent, but skimpy, credit rating and for him to get the full homeowner experience including paying a mortgage. My wife and I have to be on the mortgage because we are on the deed. They would not make the loan to me because of the PFCU “past due” allegation. (They claimed I owed $30—apparently primarily late fees on my membership dues. Who thought up a system that lets incompetent or misbehaving bank bureaucrats stop millionaires from getting a mortgage over a disputed $30 credit card bill?)

I also asked her if it was true that West Point cadets are all forced to have PFCU accounts. She said she would get back to me on that. If it is true, I think it violates the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.)

When I was a cadet, we were forced to go to Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish chapel every Sunday. That was unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...) Occasionally, a cadet would challenge the requirement in court, and West Point would suddenly give him a whole bunch of demerits and throw him out for conduct, then claim since he was “not” thrown out for church reasons, he had no standing to sue.

Apparently that worked, for a while, then the court caught on and ended the chapel requirement. That demerit ruse was outrageously illegal, immoral, unethical, dishonest and about as hypocritical as you can get for a place that has the word “honor” carved into its walls and where all the cadets and officers have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Compounding the hypocrisy, the Cadet Prayer has a line that says, “Suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish.” http://www.usma.edu/chaplain/sitepages/cadet%20prayer.aspx

The combination of the Tenth Amendment and the absence of any provision granting authority to force a person to use a particular bank account means the Congress (and the brass hats at West Point) shall make no law [or regulation] respecting the establishment of a bank account at a particular bank.

As backward, hidebound, and hypocritical as West Point was in the 1960s, no one there ever told us we had to have a relationship with PFCU’s predecessor West Point Federal Credit Union or USAA or any other bank. The federal government does requires service members and social security recipients and no doubt others to have a bank account so they can receive direct deposits. But they do NOT have the right to tell anyone WHICH BANK.

I technically have no legal standing to complain about forcing cadets to use PFCU as their direct deposit bank, but I feel a protective instinct toward current cadets and I am still pissed about that chapel/demerit hypocrisy when we were cadets.

If everyone at PFCU were like the lady who called me, I would still be a member.


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