Capital One made major inroads into the travel-rewards universe with its 110,000-mile sign-up bonus for its Venture card launch in 2011. It was the richest bonus ever offered for a rewards card.
Capital One followed up with a similar promotion in 2012, although the bonus was slightly more modest, at 100,000 miles.
The company is making news again, albeit of a very different kind. This time it's the stick that's newsworthy, not the carrot.
In a contract update recently sent to cardholders, the company added ominous new language to its terms and conditions. Capital One now claims for itself the right to "contact you in any manner we choose," including phone calls, emails, texts, faxes, or a "personal visit." If that weren't enough to set alarm bells ringing, Capital One goes on to specify that said personal visits may be "at your home and at your place of employment."
Just picture it: a knuckle-dragger from Capital One pounding on your door to collect your overdue credit-card payment. Or maybe they would deploy celebrity spokesman Alec Baldwin as their enforcer?
Either way, it's a pretty disturbing prospect. And there's more.
The company further asserts its right to "modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose." Misrepresenting yourself on caller ID? That's a tactic generally employed only by the sleaziest of telemarketers. It may not be fraud, legally speaking, but it's certainly beyond the pale as far as business ethics go.
Either of these changes would be enough to knock Capital One out of consideration for any of my future credit card or banking business.
I was very tempted to apply for Capital One's Venture card during that historic first promotion. In my review at the time, I called it "a compelling offer." I know of at least a few readers who got the card on the strength of that recommendation.
If Capital One persists in subjecting its credit card customers to such onerous terms, I will have to retract any positive comments I've made about Capital One or the Venture card. And I'd have to apologize to any readers who may have acted on my advice.
Luckily, Capital One hasn't yet claimed for itself the right to harass critical reviewers.
Reader Reality Check
Would you do business with a company that threatened to harass you at work or at home?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.