Where online customer service has its shortcomings

Hello readers,

My apologies for the long pause (writer’s block!). But, I am back again with a few new thoughts on customer service and how it is still a best practice to speak with humans over the phone when you need help for an issue. Here’s my story.

Some months ago, I was in the market for a new credit card. It had a very large sign on bonus and I was pretty excited to take advantage of the offer. But, thinking about the future, I was undecided at the time about the potential impact to my credit score. I pride myself on having a high score, and never like to see it dip much. After a bit of research, I learned that the potential impact would be minimal, and, only for a short period. So, I went for it. Here’s the rub. The bonus offered at this stage in the game was only going to be for those who applied for this particular card in person. Since I had waited and not applied for the card previously, the higher offer was unavailable online, but only at the bank. While that’s more of a drag than an issue, the problem was that I didn’t have a branch near by to apply for the card. Bummer! To miss out on all of those points due to a simple brick and mortar visit complication. To the phone I went to contact customer service.

Before the bonus was going to be reduced in half for all applicants, I called the credit card help line and pled my case. Since I had stellar credit, a long history, and a good argument for being eligible for the higher bonus, the rep made a notation in my account requesting the additional points – as long as I met the requirements. Fast forward a few months later, the bank came back and only dropped half the points in my account. Hmmm.  I was a little perplexed given that I had been essentially promised the higher bonus. First thing I did was contact the bank’s automated customer inquiry intake system. No luck. “Sorry, you aren’t eligible according to our files” was the canned response. But, I knew I was.

Last weekend, I called the bank, made my argument and the customer service rep indicated that THEY couldn’t do anything about it. I asked for a Manager (which is a solid best practice in these circumstances) and was happily connected. A few minutes later, I discussed my situation which led to the Manager looking a bit more in-depth into my files and she noticed a note requesting the higher bonus to be awarded after I met the requirements. “Ah I see the note the rep made a few months ago…I am going to escalate.” Those are pretty much music to my ears words. This was a GOOD escalation. Today, I received a nice call from the bank indicating that they in fact were going to honor the higher bonus. Oh yeah!

customer service

Credit: Creative Commons

For great customer service, go old school

The lesson learned here is that even with very efficient methods for contacting companies via email, Twitter, Facebook, and web, calling them directly, and laying out a clear argument, is still a very potent tool. You may need to be a bit persistent and patient, but it can definitely be worth the effort. Had I given up, I would have lost a half of a very lucrative bonus offering.

Posted in customer service, savings and tagged .


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