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My Bad Experience With Credit Card Customer Service

As readers of my site know, I’m proud that I’m totally debt free (including home and car debt)!

So when a Big American Corporation bank charged me a late fee on a credit card bill that I never received, I thought it wouldn’t be too big of a deal to have the fee waived.  After all, the amount the fee was based on was barely over $100…  Surely they would realize that I was a valuable customer and not worth upsetting over a piddly $110 balance…

So I called the customer support number!  I knew things were going to go bad when the customer service representative that answered had a cocky kind of way of answering.  Even before I said a word, this guy was going to be a jerk.

But I gave this guy the benefit of the doubt, and explained my problem.  He said that I recently had the credit card fee waived within the last 12 months and there was nothing he could do about it. 

I was still relatively calm at this point, and thought after I explained my circumstances that he would let common sense prevail…  Boy was I wrong!

Here is the information that I provided for to him:

  • Since before 2003 and to recently, when Citibank had my card, the bill was always received by us and corresponding then paid on time by us.  He could have confirmed this but didn’t.
  • My wife is an accountant, and handles the bills in our family so naturally, you’d assume she knew what she was doing.
  • I explained that we’re totally debt free, no mortgage, or car loans outstanding.
  • My credit card score is (at least the last time I checked) over 800 points.  I’m trying to convey that I’m reputable (which I am).

So when the credit card representative told me that he checked the computer and could see that the bill was sent on time, I couldn’t believe my ears.  I told him that possible the mailing from them was mishandled or didn’t print out to the printer (heck this happens, even the company I work for occasionally has printer issues).

To my total bewildering amazement, he tells me that he could put me on a payment plan for the ($110 dollars) amount that I owe.

Totally shocked at how stupid this representative must be, I instantly ask for a supervisor.  After 10 minutes, a supervisor get on the phone, and I can hear the combative tone in his voice too.  The previous representative must have talked to him swaying the supervisor’s opinion in some way.

Ready to push me around, this representative goes on to treat me horribly (and that’s being nice).  I go into my spiel again about the reasons why this was ludicrous, but he has cowboy syndrome, even cuts me off a few times while I try talk.

I try to reason with him again, but he’s just as rude as ever.  At this point I ask for his name, tell him that he is being incredible rude and doing a horrible job, but in a respectful way.  What changed this cocky supervisor tone was when I asked for his name telling him that I’m writing a letter complaining about my experience (which I WILL still do!). 

At this point, he realized that I’m the customer and not somebody trying to skip out on a payment.  He then tells me in a more acceptable manner that this is just policy, and then the pleasant lying begins. 

I tell him to tell me everything I need to write a complaint letter about my experience, including the name of the initial representative.  Which he lies to me and tells the system doesn’t provide that information.  I call him on this and state that I know that system has a transaction logs and that he does know that name of the previous rep, but that it’s against company policy. 

He states that’s true, and I tell him that he could have told me that and I would have been fine.  He tries to save face by removing the $1.50 interest charge that I shouldn’t have had, but he doesn’t take off the late fee per say…  I get all the information at I need from him, and then tell him I want to pay the bill online, now, with him.  He does so, quietly…  My one mistake was that I forgot to get the exact balance that I paid.

 So 10 minutes later (after I started writing my complaint letter), I realize I need that balance number (additional interest had incurred since we got the next month’s invoice.  So I call customer support for a second time.

This time I get a pleasant-sounding representative that wasn’t in a cocky mood.  I ask for the balance, and then ask him what was his full name.  He said that against company policy to tell his last name (I was testing them).  I then explain to him why I wanted his name and that he was going a fine job.

You know what?  This new representative tells me it sounds like I had a bad experience (which I agree that I did), and he said he’s going to get that fee removed.  He put me on hold for a minute and a half, then connect back to me again, explaining that he got permission from his manager to remove the late fee!

So the moral of the story is, if you get ahold of a representative of a credit card company, and the guy sounds like a jerk, do the following:

  1. Ask for his supervisor!  Although it didn’t work for me this particular time, often time they are smart enough to realize they don’t want to lose a good customer.
  2. If the supervisor sounds like a jerk, end the call gracefully, then call back!  Hopefully you’ll get a different representative and that person will be more reasonable.
  3. If you get a 2nd bad representative, try again the next day…
  4. If all of those fail, then go the suggested route of the original cocky supervisor(make them tell you over the phone, then google it to make sure it’s correct)!  Then mail the complaint to the customer complaint mail address.

So do I hate the Big American Corporation bank that I encountered problems with?

No, some people are decent intelligent human being, while other are jerks (and that’s being polite) that are bitter people who lack common sense.

Will I use the Big American Company bank credit card again?

No!  Not because I”m bitter with the company per se.  Why I won’t use them again is because their customer service failed to provide a valid reason why my credit card bills only sporadically made it to my house address.  Ever worse, they made no effort to look into if there are problems with customer receiving their credit card bills.

The other 2 credit cards that we use have always come to us via the postal system with no problems, so this leads me to conclude that it’s something on their BAC’s end.

What do you think of my little ordeal?

-MR

Update:

Readers, it would be greatly appreciated if you were to take the time to write such letters to the company about incompetence you may experience by bad customer service representatives!  Believe it or not, you are doing both the company and the credit card holding population in general a service by doing so.

*Note, I didn’t use the bank name, but if you know bank stocks, I’m sure you can figure it out.

26 Responses to My Bad Experience With Credit Card Customer Service

  1. This is one of the many reasons I don’t use credit cards period. Although bad customer service can happen anywhere, this industry in particular has a HORRIBLE reputation, as your story just supported. For me, it is just no longer worth the hassle.

    • I like credit cards to take advantage of the rewards programs.

      But, if they rip me off like they tried to above, it negates the value of the rewards program.

      Needless to say, all of the cards from the bank above will sit on a shelf collecting dust (I actually told the rude supervisor that, lol). then every 6 to 12 months I will cancel each card until they are no more!

  2. By the way, you can often ask for first name, ID #, and the location of the call center (depending on the company) for your complaint letters (regardless of credit card company or other company).

    • I messed up the first representative’s id (I was so made from the suggestion of a payment plan for that $110), but I asked the supervisor and he said they don’t give that out.

      I’m pretty sure he was lying though. In my letter to the company I’ll be sure to put that I caught him in a couple of out and out lies…

      It was a bad day 🙁

  3. I had that experience with citicards last year. (Though I got the operator’s number). It took 3 calls to get the charge removed, but it did get removed. They said they’d remove it the second call, but they only removed half of the charge. At the third call, I told them I was pretty sure it was their fault that my online payment had gone through for DH’s card but not for my card, given how many mistakes they’d made since I’d called to try to fix it. (By that point they’d also figured out there was something wrong with their email system, and that’s why I didn’t get confirmation emails for either transaction.)

    The first call they even told me it was impossible to remove the charge, which I knew was ridiculous.

    (After the first call, I always ask to speak to a supervisor right away. “You can’t help me, can I speak to your supervisor.”)

    And yeah, I get their customer ID numbers.

    We almost dropped citicards entirely at that point, but in the end we didn’t bother getting new cards from another company.

    • I think it’s the same across the board with respect to customer service in the credit card business.

      I honestly could tell by my second call that the representative was going to be better… just by the tone and manner that he spoke!

  4. If I am in a situation like that and I realize the person has an attitude, I say “oh sorry, I will have to call back”, and then try again with someone that sounds nice. It is amazing what you can tell just from talking to someone for 10 seconds.

    I had a late fee once because I must not have hit ‘confirm’ on the final payment submission page or something because my payment did not post. Amex was great and immediately took the fee off.

    I am so glad you got the fee waived. It is ridiculous how much they charge for those late fees, even when your balance is minimal.

    • yeah, truly a rip off. Perhaps I’ll check out Amex instead of BAC… I knew I get more respect from my citi card, but it’s a high caliber card… Whereas my Upromise card (BAC), is probably an entry card tied to the upromise program.

      Oh well, I hope once I send my letter in it gets noticed and the supervisor gets reprimanded for being a jerk…

      If he used a little common sense, it would have went a long way!

  5. Sorry about your ordeal, CSRs (customer service rep) can be a pain. However, allow me to play devil’s advocate here…

    I had a co-worker who used to work at the Capital One call center, she said she would get called obscene names on an hourly basis and death threats (along with other horrible threats) on a near daily basis. So, these are the people you are dealing with when you call, people with families and bills to pay who gets told, by every other customers, that they are rude, incompetent, and doing their jobs horribly (though sometimes, in a nice way, I’m sure).

    CSRs do not care about your FICO score, the fact that you’re debt free, your wife’s job, etc. I mean, for all they know you can be making it up. Telling them these things just makes you sound like someone with entitlement issues and, if there is ONE thing ALL CSRs hate is someone with entitlement issues.

    The guy was just following protocols. Could he have made exceptions for you? Absolutely! But, why should he? Sure he gets paid by BAC but does he really care if BAC loses a customer? Nope. Is his job in peril if a customer reports poor service? Nope. Reality is that he had no incentive to do you any favors and will only do so if he feels like it. Getting frustrated and coming off like a guy with entitlement issues isn’t going to do much.

    Maybe you got good results with the second guy because you told him that he was doing a good job. After hours of dealing with irate customers insulting his intelligence you were probably an oasis of calm and positivity and that’s why he helped you out. Or, maybe he just got on his shift and his spirit and mood wasn’t squashed by the hundreds of customers telling him that he sucks at life just for doing his job.

    My experience with CSRs are usually positive because I deal with a lot of customers myself. My suggestions:

    1) Be honest. Customers lie all the time. It’s insulting to our intelligence. Honesty, even if it puts you at fault, is refreshing and will often be rewarded.
    2) Basic manners: “Yes please”, “No thank you”, “Thank you, I really appreciate that” will go a LONG way.
    3) If you get someone with a sour tone of voice a cheerful, “Hi, how are you doing!… I was wondering if you can help me with a little problem…” Will signal to the CSR that you’re not going to yell and belittle them and will make them want to work with you.
    4) Regardless of if it’s true or not, remember, you have a problem and they are going to help you out NOT their company messed up so they have to fix it. It’s hard, trust me, I know, but instead of “I’m right, you’re wrong” think, “I have a situation and I need your help.”
    5) Regardless of how frustrated you are never raise your voice or insult the CSR in any way. If you do you will be labeled, literally, as hostile and they will enter shut down mode where now their objective is to just get you off the phone without hanging up on you.
    6) My secret weapon that makes most CSRs putty in my hands? If and when they ask/tell you that they will put you on hold cheerfully say, “Sure, no problem. Take your time.”

    But, you are absolutely right, sometime, no matter how nice you are, the CSR will be an uncooperative jerk face and the best step is to just hang up and try again.

  6. I’m familar with the term CSR (and the older term AEs)… I a techie that works at a such a company.

    The first CSR had an attitude, and I heard it when he said hello. I’m a friendly and courteous guy, I didn’t insult the rep, nor use profanity.

    I understand what you are saying, but that’s their job. They need to use common sense, that is why the are in a customer service role.

    I didn’t compliment the 2nd guy that I called until after he took care of my problem. I could tell he had a better attitude the instant he answered. Honestly, I didn’t even plan on telling him a thing about my circumstances, he’s the one that step forward and did an excellent job.

    The first rep. should have looked at my history and the $110 balance before offering to setup a payment plan. I mean, come on, that was just plain stupid on his part.

    Sorry, sometimes a stupid jerk is a stupid jerk (notice I’m using polite words), and should be told so by supervisors when they are so.

    I hope they review my phone conversation (they record them sometimes), just so the company can realize that I was trying to help them out by pointing out a deficiency in their mail system! Perhaps they can realize how rude I was being treated.

    If I ever have problems in the future, I may take to recording the conversation to share with readers on my blog and if I want, I could even beg help from other financial blogger I know to help promote the story. But since it’s a rare occurance (and since I’m never going to use that particular card again), I might not have the opportunity to do so in the near future.

    Oh in regards to lying… I wasn’t! So if they were reacting that way because they thought I was lying, perhaps there intelligence needs to be questioned. Especially the guy that suggested a payment plan for $110, that was STUPID!, especially with my credit history at his disposal.

    The people represent the company that you do business with. Readers, it’s your responsibility to take the effort to write such letter to the company about incompetence! Believe it or not, you are doing the company a service by doing so.

    I appreciate you honesty and insider perspective. I didnt’ raise my voice, use profanity, nor insult them personally. I know that’s their job, and 9 out of 10 of the calls aren’t like me and are trying to get out of something. Unfortunately, I was one of the 10% that wasn’t doing that. If one were to read through my blog posts, they back me up on this, they made mistake. I don’t need that companies card, and I don’t need to be treated with disrespect, especially when I’m a very courteous guy! This needs to be addressed at that company, so I will write my letter. Perhaps it will go nowhere, but I will leave my include my phone number and encourage them to call me…

    I have been wronged and I am very, very disappointed! I’m a customer, not a vendor nor a servant to the company! If my business isn’t appreciated I will go elsewhere… (hmmm, I think I’ll include that in my letter)…

    • I make Citicards a lot of money each year through vendors fees because we charge EVERYTHING. We’re constantly getting ads for new cards in the mail. (I sign those things asking for them to stop but a couple years later they sneak back in somehow.)

      Citicards doesn’t want to lose me as a customer. That’s why they waive fees. I don’t know if their computer had a malfunction or if I accidentally didn’t press the confirm button the second time (though I do now know their email alert system was malfunctioning). But it shouldn’t matter. They want my business, they should treat me courteously. There are plenty of other credit card companies that would be happy to have me.

      I didn’t write a letter, but I did explain my sad story to agents #2 and #3, who were both very nice about it even though #2 messed up. #3 fixed everything.

  7. That particular Big Ass Company not has some banking relationship with 25% of American household though other banks and mortgage companies that it has acquired. You know what? They must have growing pains because they also have the WORST customer service reputation of the large banks.

  8. I’m so glad this story had a happy ending. That was just WRONG, initially. Even when it was my fault, I have gotten the first late fee removed, because of my solid payment history. (The second time was just stupid on my part). I’m impressed that your home is paid off! Great job, but do you miss the tax deduction?

    • Hi Barb,

      Thanks, the company that I referenced above is the only one that has missed sending invoices. It’s very frustrating that I can’t get them to look into their problem with their mailing service. I think it’s sad that they blame other for their mistakes.

      Actually we don’t have much to itemize, so after a certain point, the very generous standard deduction is higher than the intemized deductions.

      Of course we also live in the mid-west, so our housing cost is drastically less than big cities like the ones in New York or California.

  9. Sorry to hear what you had to go through. I’m assuming this is the same Big Oaf of America bank I had to deal with about 10 years back. Pulled a similar stunt and I vowed never to bank with them again. Been with a credit union ever since and haven’t regretted that decision.