It’s a Heck of a Commute to Pakistan

November 23, 2009 at 1:35 pm 1 comment

Here’s an adventure I hope you never take, and a few lessons I hope your company doesn’t need to learn:

This morning I logged on to my checking account at Citizens Bank to note that there were two transactions over the weekend via companies I didn’t recognize. One was for $9.70, the other for $1,131.74. I Googled the company names in case they were vendors who I really had done business with in the past, and neither came up. So I called Citizens.

I first spoke with Lisa, who notified me that my account had been put on hold. Good thing I had cash available for coffee this morning or there would have been a very embarrassing incident at Dunkin’ Donuts. It turns out they had tried to call but had the wrong phone number on file.

Learning Lesson #1: Use every means of communication you can when you need to notify your customer of something urgent. You have my email address; you use it to send me account notifications, which usually just means whenever an e-statement is ready. Wouldn’t this qualify as an account notification?

Lisa transferred me to Rose in Credit Card Prevention Fraud There Were A  Lot Of Words In Her Title Department. Rose told me that the notification on the transaction says the card was present in Pakistan. I said to her, “But my card is with me. That’s one heck of a commute, Rose.” to which she laughed. I make jokes when I’m scared or upset, and it helps put me at ease when people laugh at them. Rose asked me some questions, we parceled out which transactions I had made and which I hadn’t, and then she told me what the next steps were.

Step 1: No claim can be filed until the transaction has actually posted and cleared. Call back Wednesday to file a claim.

Step 2: Once the claim has been filed, it takes about 10 business days to correct the account and remove the hold.

I told Rose that I know she didn’t develop this policy, but frankly I thought it sucked and she agreed. She said she felt terrible that this happened so close to Thanksgiving, offered to do some maneuvering to try to get me some cash even though it might get her into trouble, and seemed genuinely upset that, in her words, “You didn’t even do anything wrong.”

Learning Lesson #2: If you are in a position to acknowledge that a customer has been inconvenienced due to a situation for which they are not at fault, do not continue to inconvenience your customer.

If you’re a Citizens Bank customer, you may also be familiar with their overdraft fee policy, which is that if your available balance – not your account, but your available balance – dips below $0 for any amount of time, you will be charged a $39 overdraft fee on your account. Even if it is for $1 and you immediately deposit $5 cash into your account – you will be charged $39. Given that, it’s astounding to me that they refuse to file a claim for something A. they originally identified as fraud, before I even saw it and B. that they can and will charge an overdraft fee on, before it is posted and cleared.

I’m really lucky that NJS placed a call to his bank, Century, and is able to quickly move some things around so we can still rent a car to go see my Dad for Thanksgiving. A bank of which I am NOT a customer is sticking out its neck for me. The bank of which I have been a customer for over 9 years is not. I’m also lucky that I got to talk to Rose at Citizens; most of my encounters with their customer service staff are nowhere near this friendly, and I appreciate what she tried to do.

As soon as this happened, I tweeted it, hoping someone from Citizens would respond. The only responses were horrified followers, including this:

Learning Lesson #3: It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: People are talking about you. Are you going to join in the conversation?

This week, I am thankful for a boyfriend who comes to the rescue, a life that even when it’s bad still enables me to eat and have a roof over my head and keep my Dad from being alone on Thanksgiving, and the ability to switch banks as soon as this nightmare has ended.

And as for the guy in Pakistan running around with a copy of my debit card? I work at a non-profit. If you want to sustain your shopping habits, you should probably find a different card.

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It’s All Good Wipe the Sleep Out of my Eyes

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marie  |  November 23, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. Here’ s hoping it gets straightened out to your satisfaction quickly.

    Reply

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