Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Customer Service Lost & Found a great sales job was more than offset by poor execution.

Recently I signed up for online access to my primary credit card account. When I logged in I saw a second credit card sitting in my "account." No activity, no history, but it was there with a $5K credit limit. I immediately called to get rid of it, whatever it was.

Turns out that Chase had bought the portfolio of a company I had had a credit card with years ago. And even though I thought I had closed down that card, it was still there according to the old company. When I told the customer service rep (CSR) to close it, she did a nifty little job of convincing me I might want to keep it. How did she do it?

Well, it wasn't the fixed low APR (7.9%) because I pay off my bills every month.
And it wasn't the lack of annual fee.
And it wasn't because I need the credit. I have a bunch of available credit on both my credit card and via a home equity line.

No, she told me the card offered a 5% rebate on all groceries and gas bought with it...and that you could get either cash back or miles good on any airline. And I thought, well, I have to buy groceries; I have to buy gas. That 5% could be $10-20 a month...which is a couple week's worth of feeding my iTunes Music Store addiction! So, I said, "sure, send it on over."

She double-checked my address first. And even though Chase has my correct address for my primary card, my old address was still attached to this old card. I gave her the new address and a scant two days later I received the card via UPS.

I did the whole call to validate thing, entered a PIN and stuck the little guy in my wallet. It was a little harder than normal to get that sticker telling you to call to validate the card off the card, and it left a lot more sticky glue on than usual. And this should have been my omen.

That evening I went to get gas. I swiped the card, punched in my zip code. No authorization. Tried again. Gave up. Used other card. Actually called the 800 number right then. Discovered the address change I had walked through on the phone didn't really happen. You know, one of those black hole experiences. OK. Did it again.

Next day: had to buy groceries. Swiped the card, entered the PIN. Didn't recognize the PIN. Tried twice, and again had to switch to the other card.

I promptly went home and closed the account and deactivated the card.

Was that too hasty a move? Don't care. They had me, even though I didn't need what they were selling. And then, just as easily, they lost me.

Moral: when you're not necessary it ain't hard to abandon you at the first sign of inconvenience!

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