Thursday, March 12, 2009

My day started with a call from a "private" number . . .

I almost ignored the call, as I'd just dropped off the kids and hurrying to get ready for work.
"Is this K-eye-rah?" asked a deep, male voice.
Accustomed to the name-slaughter, telephone soliciter, I almost hung up but answered warily, "Yah."
"I'm with Huntington Bank and I'm calling to check a charge billed to your debit card. Can you give me your last four digits of your Social Security number to verify your identity?"
Really? Didn't he just call me?
I'm a smart alec, so I said: "How do I know you're really Huntington Bank?"
He wasn't amused, so I told him my numbers and he told me The Bank is worried about a charge of $7 for Hearst Magazines, a charge made last night. Hmm. I tell him, I love magazines, but I didn't subscribe to any in the middle of the night last night.
Ah, that's what we thought, he deadpanned, and said he was going to transfer me to customer service.
Really? After being on hold for a couple of minutes, and getting increasingly antsy stuck on a non-portable phone at my house, finally a woman came on the line and said we'd have to file a something or other, and I would need to go to the closest branch immediately with I.D. and take the case number she was going to spit out for me.
This seemed to be a lot of scrambling for $7, so I asked what was going on.
"Well, were you one of our customers who received the green notification slip in with a new card?" she asked.
"Yep," I said. "I didn't read it closely but something about you would be watching my card and here was a new one for my protection. That was nice." I figured I'd shopped online someplace not secure and, at the time, felt guilty and glad they sent me the new card.
"Well, ma'am, a company our bank does business with had their security compromised, and oh, look here, someone has just tried to charge a $4,000.00 hotel room in France to your card," she said. "They start small and move up. Just good we caught this for you."
Now, I was getting mad. "Hundreds of people are affected by this?"
"Oh, at least," she answered.
"But all you did was send me a new card, and imply it was my fault," I said. "And now, my number is in France, and buying magazines, and I have to go to the branch immediately?"
"Crazy isn't it," she agreed, or something like that. "Here is your case number, you'll need to take it with you. You should probably go on over today, as soon as possible really."

Call me crazy, but shouldn't my bank take responsibility for this mess? Instead of sending an elusive green bill stuffer slip inside a new credit card implying my security compromise had been my fault, and stating don't worry, we're watching, shouldn't The Bank simply say: It's our fault. We picked a new vendor. Here's a new card. If anything happens, we'll handle it.

I'd already had to update all of my auto-pay, and type accounts with my new debit card number last week, and now, today I spent another hour after the call on this at the branch and back - of course it was a 3 page form, that I had to have the Case Number, my Card Number, my former card number to complete. Oh, and I had to show I.D.

In times like these, you need to be thankful for every customer you have. Treat them openly and value the relationship. In this case, transparency was only one-way - my bank was seeing into my life, watching me, knew it had screwed up, and was waiting for the other shoe to fall. It did this morning. But me? I was clueless and sent scrambling. Perhaps a stronger letter to me? An offer to update my online accounts with the new number? A warning on the website about a security breach may have scared folks not affected, but more than a bill stuffer should have been employed.

This just isn't a great way to make a customer feel.

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