Customer Care?? Yeah, right!

27 responses

[A rant rated OFME–Okay For Mom’s Eyes (sort of)

I wonder if bank officers ever phone into their Customer Care lines to see the torture they are inflicting on their loyal customers. Here’s what happened to me today.

I received my home equity line statement and wanted to pay off the loan in full. Usually, I do all my banking online because it’s quick and easy and I don’t have to deal with automated voices or incompetent, couldn’t-give-a-care Customer Care representatives. However, it states clearly on the statement that the amount listed is not the pay-off amount and that I need to phone the bank for this information. Seems simple enough, right? Get comfortable.

As an anal technical writer, I couldn’t stop myself from recording the steps of this seemingly simple procedure:

  1. Find Customer Care (snort) phone number on statement.
  2. Dial Customer Care number.
  3. Wait while the recorded voice tells me to “oprima el uno” if I want to proceed in Spanish.
  4. Enter last four digits of my Social Security Number and press the pound key.
  5. Enter the 14-digit Account Number and press the pound key.
  6. Listen while I am told, though I do not wish to know, my current balance, available line of credit, last payment received-on date and amount, and the news that no payment is due at this time.
  7. Listen to the menu choices.
  8. Press 2 to pay off loan.
  9. Listen to the message that states for privacy reasons, I must be the borrower or have the borrower’s permission to continue.
  10. When asked if I am in fact the borrower or have the borrower’s permission, press 1 to confirm. (I wonder for a moment how that pressing of the 1 proves that I have the borrower’s permission, but since I am the borrower, it doesn’t really concern me at the moment.)
  11. Listen to message that states, “Sorry, your request can’t be processed by our automated system. Please hold for a representative.” (Great, I prefer talking to someone who breathes.)
  12. After a short wait, the customer service rep comes online.
  13. Engage in the time-wasting, annoying exchange of greetings. Good morning, ma’am. How are you doing today? [waits for my answer and coos in response]. This is so and so. I’ll be so happy to help you today. Blah blah blah. (Now I’m wishing there was an option to press 3 for “Cut-the crap-and-cut-to-the-chase Loan Payoff.” Not everyone wants metaphoric honey oozed all over them every time they call with a problem. Save it for the Feelers. I’m an ENTP. Let’s get on with it.)
  14. She informs me she must ask me some security questions. Okay, but didn’t I just enter the last four digits of my Social Security Number in step #4 above? They must require even more classified information from me. I try to remember how many stitches it took to sew me up after I pushed my son into the world, just in case. Oh wait, this is the bank, not the airport.
  15. In response to her first question, I give her my account number, which I’ve already entered into the phone.
  16. I tell her my name.
  17. I tell her my zip code
  18. I tell her the original amount of my line of credit.
  19. She informs me that I have passed the security questions. (I get a tear in my eye, feeling a bit proud of this accomplishment, even though ANYONE WHO HAD STOLEN THE STATEMENT FROM MY MAILBOX COULD’VE ANSWERED THOSE QUESTIONS. Moreover, do thieves regularly call banks to pay off their victim’s loans??? Just asking.
  20.  Now we get down to business. I state I want a pay-off amount for my line of credit.
  21. Do you want to close the line of credit?
  22. No, just pay it off.
  23. Okay, let me help you out with that and give you a confirmation number. (Much typing ensues here, like those damned airline employees at the check-in counters.)
  24. Your payoff amount is $160.40 and here is your confirmation number.
  25. Thank her but then wait patiently while she informs me that if I want to close the line, there’s an extra charge and I have to do it in writing.
  26. Remind her that I’ve already said I’m leaving the line open.
  27. Listen as she tells me she’s just telling me in case I wanted to, which I don’t. Got that?
  28. Tell her I am going to pay this off online and ask whether it matters which field I enter the amount into? Principal or interest?
  29. No, it will go through in either case.
  30. Thank her, tell her to have a good day, and hope that’s the end of it. But nooooooooooo. She thanks me, and tells me to have a good day, and then gives her closing pitch for their telephone and online services, which I already know exist because I’M ON THE FREAKING PHONE WITH HER. Blah blah blah. Then, tells me to have a good day again and thanks me and I repeat it back to her, and she repeats it back to me. I’m exhausted, but the finish line is in view.
  31. Log onto my online banking account.
  32. Go to the transfer money screen and enter the pay-off amount into the field.
  33. Read message that indicates I can’t perform this transaction because the amount on the statement is $160.27 and the amount I’m entering, which includes today’s interest, is $160.40. You can’t enter more than you owe. (Why don’t the Customer Care reps know this??? Can I possibly be the first person who has tried to do this????) I am directed to call them on the phone.
  34. AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Actually, I didn’t say it quite like that, but my mom will call and complain if I put too many expletives into one sentence.)
  35. Dig out the statement again.
  36. Find Customer Care frickin’ frackin’ phone number on statement.
  37. Dial Customer Crap number.
  38. Wait while the recorded voice tells me to “oprima el freakin’ uno” if I want to proceed in Spanish. (I consider it briefly.)
  39. Enter last four digits of my Social Security Number and press the pound key.
  40. Enter the 14-digit Account Number and press the pound key.
  41. Listen while I am told, though I do not wish to know, my current balance, available line of credit, last payment received-on date and amount, and the news that no payment is due at this time.
  42. Listen to the menu choices.
  43. Press 2 to pay off my loan.
  44. Listen to the message that for privacy reasons, I must be the borrower or have the borrower’s permission to continue.
  45. When asked if I am in fact the borrower or have the borrower’s permission, press 1 to confirm. I consider spelling out FUCK on the keypad but thoughts of mom return.
  46. Listen to message that says, “Sorry, your request can’t be processed by our automated system. Please hold for a representative.” (Did I really say, “Great, I prefer talking to someone who breathes” earlier?)
  47. After a short wait, the customer service rep comes online.
  48. Engage in the time-wasting, annoying exchange of greetings. Good morning, ma’am. How are you today? [coo, coo, and more cooing] This is so and so. I’ll be so happy to help you today. Blah blah blah.
  49. State the dilemma.
  50. Though she is the same person I spoke to just minutes ago, she informs me she must ask me some security questions.
  51. Tell her my account number, which I’ve already entered into the phone twice and told her once before.
  52. Tell her my name again.
  53. Tell her my zip code again.
  54. Tell her the original amount of my line of credit.
  55. She informs me that I have passed the security questions. (My bowl of breakfast fruit is sitting on my desk and I wonder how much it would hurt if I stuck the fork in my eye.)
  56. She tells me she can issue a waiver for the 13 cents since it is less than a dollar, but only after I have paid off the $160.27. She asks if I will be doing that today?
  57. I tell her I’m doing it as we speak. I enter in the amount and press Submit and my Internet Explorer enters the bathroom with the Encyclopedia Brittanica under its arm. (Mom wouldn’t have liked the way I originally worded that part.)
  58. While I wait for IE to do its thing, I feel an evil gleam beginning to glisten in my unforked eyes: Now I’m keeping her waiting. Heh heh heh.
  59. Realizing IE is not going anywhere, I close out and re-enter my online banking account and enter the transaction again. Deep sigh when it goes through in seconds.
  60. Ask her if she needs the transaction number, but she informs me she doesn’t because she has all my information on her screen. (She then tells me I only needed one stitch.)
  61. She generates another confirmation number for me, indicating that the 13 cents are being waived.
  62. She reminds me at least three times that it is being waived because it is less than a dollar. (Lest I mistakenly think I can call them whenever I want to waive my regular loan payments.)
  63. Thank her. Tell her to have a good day. Hope that’s the end of it. But nooooooooooo. She thanks me, and tells me to have a good day, and then gives her closing pitch yet again for their telephone and online services. Then, tells me to have a good day again and thanks me and I repeat it back to her, and she repeats it back to me.
  64. Hang up the phone and write a blog.
  65. Forward the blog link to the head of the bank.

27 thoughts on “Customer Care?? Yeah, right!

  1. I love this! I hope you did forward it to the head of the bank. Of course, if the service rep had treated you like a human being, then she probably would have gotten called up in front of her supervisor for not going through the whole pitch each and every time — it is so bizarre that the scripts that are meant to make us feel taken care of depersonalize us.

    1. Every once in a while, I’ll call a company and their rep is so spontaneous that it stuns me for a moment because of how unexpected it is. If you really know your job, you should be able to customize the message for the customer. But I think that everyone is in CYA mode, worried that they’re going to be sued for something. The Stepford Service Reps are here to stay, I’m afraid.

  2. Horrible! My day job is in financial services so this really makes me wince. For the love of all that is good in this world, just *simplify* the process! It’s. Just. Not. That. Hard.

    I do hope you sent this to the bank.

    Oh and in step 23, I totally had that visual from “Meet the Parents” — the airport scene with all of the typing.

  3. I completely understand the frustrations (from both perspectives). I used to work as a technical support representative on the phone, and we were required to follow specific scripts. It didn’t matter if the person walked US through the script, we still had to say it and wait for the response before we could continue. However, if someone accused us of using a script, we had to inform them that we were simply troubleshooting, not reading a script. If we didn’t follow the script (even if the person performed a procedure that took 15 minutes BEFORE they called us, they had to do it again with us on the phone, so we could document they had done it with us on the phone).

    The problem is that when you get transferred (each rep type is only allowed to handle a very specific set of circumstances, or they must transfer), you get transferred by phone only. Your information doesn’t automatically populate until you’ve given a specific answer. If it does populate, then they have to verify that the right information came up, because if the call got misdirected and dropped suddenly, they may have the previous caller’s information in front of them.

    The screens were set up with specific phrases, so we could ask for the message on the screen and verify that they were doing what we asked. If they needed to pay a bill, we had to follow the script that you had to just go through. By the time I worked there for one month, I had every script memorized, but if we didn’t open the page and click on each link as we said it, we would be docked. Even though we had just gone through the script by memory, VERBATUM. If we got docked three times in a row for trying to politely bypass a step in the script, we could be fired. We had to have the same opening, request the same information, verify and verify again whom we’re speaking with, get through a script, and be sure to get in the entire closing before the customer hangs up, or we’re required to call them back and complete it.

    Trust me, it’s frustrating and extremely annoying on both ends of that conversation. The only thing we were allowed to change was our tone of voice. I had 14 commendations from my customers within the first four months of working (most people only get 2 every year, if they’re lucky). The only thing I think I did different was mirroring the customer’s frustrations in a positive manner. “Yes, I understand this is frustrating to have to repeat.” “Thank you for being so patient.” “Thank you for letting me get the information from you again.” “Thank you for not hanging up so that I have to call back so that you can yell at me just so I can keep my job.” Okay, well, I didn’t say the last one.

    Oh, and if the computer has a hiccup, you have to act like the lame butt is you, which just gets the customers more upset. That all being said, the reason the reps stay there and have all the customers get annoyed with them is because it pays well; has awsome raises ($0.75 every six months), because nobody wants to stick around; and you can get full-coverage, low-deductible insurance for your entire family from the best insurance company in the state for only $54.00 a month. With perks like those, you know the job must suck. So, the reality is that the two annoying reps probably just got raises, and the “spontaneous” one probably loved your kindness and may have gotten fired to receive it.

    *Sigh.* Thus is life.

    1. Wow! That was an education. And just where is this job where you get full-coverage, low-deductible insurance for your entire family from the best insurance company in the state for only $54/month? I can’t imagine. My insurance costs more than my mortgage.

  4. Dynamite blog Marg! I’m still laughing – though It’s not so funny when it happens to me. You did well to maintain your cool in the language area. I’m very proud of you.

  5. I am intrigued by your banking soiree on several counts, and it has spurred these questions/comments from me:
    1) Why aren’t you a comedy writer?
    2) How does anyone only owe $160.40 on a Home Equity Loan?
    3) If I give you all my HE account information, I’m wondering if you could pay MY HE loan balance off (simply add three more zeros to your payoff amount)?
    4) Why aren’t you a comedy writer?

  6. 1) Maybe you’ve heard of an old show called Seinfeld? Yeah? Well, good. So have I. 😉

    2) The amount I owed was the interest that had accrued for the partial month after paying off the principal.

    3) Sure, as long as you supply the HE payoff amount as well. I’m really good at entering numbers in fields multiple times.

    4) Why haven’t you started a blog yet? 😛

    1. Seinfeld? Seinfeld! If you’re going to joke about writing for a show, pick one better than that. You could write Seinfeld right under the table. …Unless you really wrote for Seinfeld, then Wow! That show is just *cough* amazing! 🙂

      1. Jessica, Have you been sniffing glue? LOL.
        Let me just pull off my wig. Ta-da…Larry David.
        No, I didn’t write for Seinfeld. I wish I did. That would be quite the credit to have. Dying to know what you didn’t like about it?

      2. Well, yes, I have. How did you know? *sniff* As far as what I don’t like about the show… Well, I guess the question is what do I like about the show? *sniff* You know, I think it’s the repetitive nature of the rhetoric. One person says a phrase, the audience snorts; the next person repeats the phrase, the audience giggles; a third person iterates the phrase AGAIN, and the audience busts up with fits of laughter. I like witty repertoire, like your writing, not a beat-down of common phrases made funny by repetition of use. Just not my style. I like your comedic ramblings much better.

  7. It’s the automated parts that infuriate me. Press #1 to blah, press #2 etc. There’s never a direct route to an actual person. I can handle the automated people, just not the maze you have to navigate. And it’s a nightmare when you’re on a mobile phone. You have to listen to the choices, take the phone away from your ear to press the number, put it back to listen to the next choices, and so on.

    And I’ve been telling Margaret for years how funny she is. It’s great to get some back-up here. 😉

  8. I love this entire post, but my favorites are #19 and #55. Also, “Can I possibly be the first person who has tried to do this????” I don’t know how many times I’ve said that. When I mail a package at the post office and ask if the insurance is included in the price, why do they always have to go in the back and ask? They don’t have that many different products at the post office. This is like going into a pizza place and asking if they have pepperoni and they don’t know. Last year I paid online for an airport shuttle service, and when I handed the driver the printed receipt he stared at it for five minutes, much as he might have had I handed him payment in Albanian currency. Back to the telephone customer service: Have you noticed that you now have to listen carefully to all of the options, as their menu items have recently changed? They all say this, every time. It’s some kind of trick, but I don’t know what. I could go on and on, but there’s no need, because you’ve documented the experience perfectly — which is also why it’s so funny. Thank you. (Oh, and IHPP.)

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