The Apple Credit Card Provided through Goldman Sachs Has Created a Living Hell According to Consumer Complaints

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 10, 2022 ~

David Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

David Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

On August 4, Goldman Sachs provided the following disclosure when it filed its quarterly report (10-Q) with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

“The firm is cooperating with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in connection with an investigation of GS Bank USA’s credit card account management practices, including with respect to the application of refunds, crediting of nonconforming payments, billing error resolution, advertisements, and reporting to credit bureaus.”

That bland statement doesn’t really do justice to the hundreds of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by consumers using the Apple credit card that is provided by Goldman Sachs. The Apple credit card holders are alleging being put through a living hell by Goldman Sachs when fraudulent charges are made on their Apple credit card and a host of other problems.

In typical Goldman Sachs style, it has managed to earn the hostility of everyday consumers, airline pilots, and even a police officer with its handling of credit card complaints. Unfortunately for Apple, its name and reputation are being taking along for the ride – which raises the question, what marketing zombie at Apple didn’t see this coming when he decided to entangle Apple’s brand with “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” as Matt Taibbi famously described Goldman Sachs at Rolling Stone.

The complaints at the CFPB aren’t helping the J.D. Power brand either. J.D. Power had announced in August of 2021 that the Apple credit card provided through Goldman Sachs had ranked number one in customer satisfaction in the midsize credit card segment. Goldman Sachs’ Chairman of Consumer Business, Harit Talwar, had gushed as follows about the award:

“Nothing energizes us more than the affirmation that we are providing a simple, transparent product that delivers value and that customers love. Creating this experience with Apple has been incredibly rewarding, and we are committed to continuing to deliver best-in-class service to our customers. It takes a village, and I am grateful to my colleagues at Goldman Sachs, the teams at Apple, and all of our partners who have helped us be No. 1 in customer satisfaction in the U.S. credit card industry.”

But in the very same month of August 2021, as Goldman was celebrating its J.D. Power award, egregious complaints were being filed with the CFPB. Here’s a sampling: (the redacted information has been done by the CFPB; typos are in the original):

A customer in California wrote this:

“This problem has been ongoing since XXXX, I have had to open multiple disputes through Apple credit card (goldman Sachs) and every time I open disputes, they ALWAYS favor the merchant ( XXXX ) There were multiple unauthorized purchases on my card through XXXX, XXXX helped with most of them besides one order that was {$1400.00}. My credit card issuer Goldman Sachs is saying that the dispute keeps favoring them no matter what evidence I give them. I really want to sue or something, I have no idea what to do now…” (Read the full complaint here.)

A customer in Massachusetts told the CFPB this:

“My 11 year old computer died and I went online to to buy a replacement one. Their site advertises that you can get an Apple credit card with 0 % APR for the first 12 months and pay off the computer. When I tried to redeem that offer, their Goldman Sachs website came back and extended a {$2500.00} credit limit, which does not cover the cost of a computer on their site. I called in to get the limit increased to {$3200.00} because I make {$320000.00} a year and have a XXXX credit rating. When I called in, their representative told me the only way to request a credit limit increase to cover the cost of the computer was to accept the credit card offer and open an account. So I did. He told me the next day I had to call back to request a credit increase. There was no other way to get an increase on the application. I have just done that, and despite making a high salary, having zero credit debt and having an excellent credit score, Goldman Sachs / Apple has denied the application and not giving me a reason…” (Read the full complaint here.)

A resident of Virginia wrote this:

“On XX/XX/21, an unknown charge for {$840.00} was Pending on my Apple Card (Goldman Sachs), I submitted a dispute the same day and was told that, because the charge was still ‘pending’, they would monitor the charge and if the charge posted, the dispute process would start with no further action from me. If the charge did not post, it would just drop off of my account. Since then, I have made dozens of calls and chat sessions with Apple Card Support about this charge that posted to my account on XX/XX/21. On this date, I received a ‘provisional credit’ and exactly one minute later, the provisional credit was reversed. After many phone calls, I finally learned that the dispute that I repeatedly called about had been ruled in the merchant ‘s favor because, they stated, I ‘withdrew my dispute’ — this is a complete falsehood…” (Read the full complaint here.)

The Apple credit card via Goldman Sachs was only launched three years ago in August of 2019. Goldman wrote the following at the time:

“Goldman Sachs is the issuer of the card and is responsible for underwriting, customer service, the underlying platform and all matters related to regulatory compliance through Goldman Sachs Bank USA.”

For the credit card to have generated hundreds of complaints in such a short span of time is remarkable and is apparently why Goldman Sachs is now being investigated by the CFPB. Consider that only a small percentage of Americans are aware that they can file a complaint with the CFPB to seek resolution, and fewer still know where to go on the internet to do that. If hundreds of Americans have filed a complaint, it is highly likely that there are actually thousands of complaints that have not been filed. The CFPB knows that from experience.

It’s possible that the folks at Apple are unfamiliar with the century of abuses to customers by Goldman Sachs. Key milestones include the Goldman Sachs Trading Company’s conduct in the asset bubble of 1928. The Trading Company was a closed end fund (called a trust in those days) that Goldman Sachs created and offered to the public at $104 a share, stuffed with conflicted investments while paying Goldman a hefty management fee, only to end up a few years after the 1929 stock market crash trading at a little more than a dollar.

Then there were the 2010 Senate hearings where Goldman Sachs was shown to have been allowing hedge fund titan, John Paulson, to pick subprime debt likely to fail for one of Goldman’s securitized deals. Goldman sold the product to its customers as a good investment. Paulson made approximately $1 billion shorting the deal while those on the other side of the trade lost about $1 billion, while never being advised of the hedge fund manager’s role. According to the late U.S. Senator Carl Levin, Goldman was itself shorting (betting on subprime derivative products to fail) while actively promoting these products to clients. Comedian Jon Stewart started calling Goldman Sachs “those f*!*!ing guys” during this period.

Equally notable was the 2012 incident when Greg Smith, a VP at Goldman, tendered his resignation after 12 years with the firm on the OpEd pages of the New York Times. Smith lamented on “how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ ” Smith wrote. The “muppets” characterization instantly went viral with comedic internet memes, like this catchy musical video written by former Wall Street veteran and law professor Frank Partnoy.

More recently, Goldman Sachs has upped its game to criminal felony charges leveled by the U.S. Department of Justice in the 1MDB bribery case. The Justice Department released this statement on October 22, 2020 in conjunction with bringing the charges against Goldman Sachs:

“Over a period of five years, Goldman Sachs participated in a sweeping international corruption scheme, conspiring to avail itself of more than $1.6 billion in bribes to multiple high-level government officials across several countries so that the company could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fees, all to the detriment of the people of Malaysia and the reputation of American financial institutions operating abroad. Today’s resolution, which includes a criminal guilty plea by Goldman Sachs’ subsidiary in Malaysia, demonstrates that the department will hold accountable any institution that violates U.S. law anywhere in the world by unfairly tilting the scales through corrupt practices.”

The message here is simple, if you’re a company with a good reputation, you need to do a proper and thorough amount of due diligence before you align your name and reputation with another company.

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