Friday, November 10, 2006

Customer Complaint and Corporate Joy

As some of the more business-minded ones of you out there may know, Bank of America just bought out/merged with MBNA.

My wife and I have been MBNA customers for some time, and have been really pleased with their service, even when they jacked around their agreement terms that one time.

Here’s that story. When we first signed on with MBNA for a credit card, the rule was this: if you pay the bill in full before the end of the bill cycle, they don’t charge any interest. So we set up all of our bills to hit before the end of the bill cycle. After several months of this they changed the policy so that they charge interest unless the bill is paid in full by the BILL DUE DATE, which is about a WEEK EARLIER than the end of bill cycle. So one month – WHAM – our bill is chock full of interest charges where there were never any before. We called to complain, were connected WITHOUT ANY WAIT TIME to an intelligent, courteous, living person who WAIVED OUR INTEREST FEES until we could readjust our bill paying schedule to accommodate this new timeline. The call from dial to departure, took all of five minutes. We were blown away. This was one of those positive experiences that made us evangelical for the company.
End Digression

So it was with disappointment and sadness when I saw that they were bought out by Bank of America. This is how I found out: I tried to log into my credit card account to view my balance and got redirected to a new website.

This new website not only told me I couldn’t view my balance until I agreed to new terms of service, but it made me click through TWO PAGES OF ADVERTISEMENTS before getting to the service agreement.

Because I distrust banks that rely on advertising revenue, I actually sat down and read the service level agreement. Which is hard to do because it was written by lawyers and if you read material like this too much, you start thinking like a lawyer. And, frankly, I don’t want to start oozing piles of ick.

The text of the service level agreement is quite impenetrable, but I highlighted all the areas where the words “fee” and “charge” were used. And then I called my trusty ol’ MBNA phone rep to explain the exciting new fees and charges to me.

First thing I noticed was a 15 minute hold time. This was something I NEVER experienced before with MBNA. The first thing my wife said was, “We miss the old MBNA.”

The rep said, “Oh, we’re still the same company.”

“Then why did I have a 15 minute hold time when I’ve never had that before?”

“Ummm… how can I help you today?”

Then the rep didn’t know the details about the fees, and would put us on hold while she found out. Whoops! Wouldn’t you know it, the phone got just a wee little disconnected.

So… eventually we got the official word which was this – If you download your credit card data in a Quicken file while you have Quicken running in the background, they charge you $20 a month. But if you download the Quicken file and DON'T have Quicken running in the background, banking with Quicken is free.

Which made us… happy is not the right word… neither is satisfied… um… NOT AS ANGRY AS WE COULD HAVE BEEN.

Except – get this – you CAN’T DOWNLOAD QUICKEN DATA FROM THE WEBSITE UNLESS YOU AGREE TO PAY THE $20 A MONTH SERVICE FEE. Which means the person on the phone lied to us, or was lied to and just passed that lie along.

This is bad because our household lives and breathes Quicken. We pay for the software and the upgrades, and somehow, that doesn't seem like enough money out of our pockets. Banks and credit card companies see this need to CHARGE CUSTOMERS EXTRA for using Quicken, when, in my opinion, they should be FINANCIALLY INSENTING people to use Quicken instead.

Seriously. Quicken SAVES time and money. So why do financial institutions feel this neet to make it suddenly WASTE time and money? It baffles me.

Oh, and they put the credit card on a new billing cycle so this month the window to pay our credit card bill without getting charged interest went from 28 days to 14 days. Thank you, Bank of America. Thank you for spreading misery all over the world. Your evil overlords are pleased with your work.

And I write all this because while getting more than angry about what a lousy customer/corporation relaitonship I was forced into, I was forwarded a nice little video of the Bank of America executives celebrating the merger. Good to see my issues are being dealt with in such a serious manner.

Normally supporting struggling musicians makes me happy. Not this time.

1 comment:

Larry Doyle said...

My Bank of America story. I was MBNA and enjoyed the comapny. Now Bank of America has increased my Annual percentage a total of 8%. I called the telephone number on the statement and asked why they increased my rate by 8%. I was never late on any of my accounts in over 20 years and my credit rating shows a perfect history. There answer was my debt ratio was out of balance. I told them " what they were doing is criminal and boarders on thug approach". They told me to pay my account off and stop using BofA and we both would be happy. We then got disconnected.