NATICK, Mass., Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. (NYSE: BJ)today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court seeking, among other things, to prevent Beneficial National Bank USA from canceling 12,000 BJ's MasterCard accounts with a September 1997 expiration date. Beneficial, the issuer of the BJ's MasterCard, has said that it is canceling these accounts of customers with good credit records who paid their bills in full and on time for the last year because Beneficial receives no finance charges from them. Beneficial recently began notifying customers of these cancellations. BJ's lawsuit asserts that Beneficial's actions are a breach of its contract with BJ's, and that Beneficial may not cancel the credit cards of any credit-worthy BJ's members. Edward Gillooly, Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing commented, "Beneficial never told BJ's when we entered into this agreement that our members would be terminated for paying their bills on time and in full. Beneficial admits that their reason for this wrongful action is to increase their profits. That is unacceptable to us." He continued, "BJ's first priority is our members and we will continue to fight Beneficial's actions." Beneficial has informed BJ's that it has already sent termination letters to approximately 12,000 of the 260,000 members who hold BJ's MasterCard accounts with Beneficial. Over the coming year, Beneficial says it intends to cancel over 30,000 additional members' accounts. BJ's currently has over four million members. In addition to filing a lawsuit, BJ's is taking the following steps to help its members: -- Work to identify the names and addresses of all BJ's MasterCard holders so that it can correspond directly with them regarding Beneficial's actions and BJ's responses; -- Increase staffing at its telephone customer service center (1-800-BJS-CLUB); -- Prepare key in-store managers and staff to explain Beneficial's actions and the consequences to affected members; -- Establish an in-store registry of customers who make inquiries, even if their questions are answered, so that the company can follow up with them by mail. While BJ's awaits the court's decision, BJ's members still have the most payment options of any warehouse club. Headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. is a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern United States, with 84 clubs in the chain. In the year ended January 1997, sales totaled $2.9 billion. BJ's common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BJ.
SOURCE BJ's Wholesale Club