From Where I Sit – From a Molehill to a Mountain

I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Have you had a teeny-weeny customer complaint mushroom into a bloody big deal because no one had the inkling or authority to make it right? Many corporations have escalation processes to deal with complaints that have grown from molehill to mountain in size.

I know this first-hand through a maddening series of events beginning last fall. I will not name the specific financial institution because I’ve gotten resolution. I tell my story to encourage others to persevere and play the escalation game until you too are satisfied.

My October credit card statement showed a charge for almost $87 with the descriptor ?security adjustment.? It was the only charge so I noticed it immediately. Tip: check all invoices from wherever because mistakes happen more often than they should. On October 29 I made my first call to the company. Six more calls over two months would follow. I was assured the charge was an internal one and a mistake, and would be corrected. Like a happy, but ultimately naive, clam I assumed the matter was closed. Not.

When my November statement appeared with no credit and $1.48 in interest I saw red. I called again and was on hold for 12 minutes before I even got to talk to anyone. Do you have any idea how many times in 12 minutes I heard the recording about how ?all of our specialists are currently helping other customers, please hold and the next available specialist will be with you shortly??

In addition to being ticked off I’m now concerned about negative impact on my credit score for supposed ?non-payment.? Thirty minutes in, I was told by Dana in fraud that she’d call me back the next day to assure me there was no mark against my score. Still waiting for that call and from two other people.

In total, 12 specialists heard my story and did not or could not fix it. I lost track of the amount of time I spent on hold or telling and retelling my story. On December 29 I lost it. I refused to answer any more security questions?I’d just been transferred from one person to another within their own damn organization?if the first person had deemed I was really me . . . aaarrghh. I asked for the manager’s name and address. She tried giving me the assistant manager’s info. Voices (mine) were raised; phones (mine) were slammed down.

Because of some pretty detailed notes?who, what, when and even some verbatim notes of comments made?I was able to write a compelling letter to the manager. I asked for two things: his personal assurance that my credit score was unchanged because of this mess, and enough reward points to get the sour taste out of my mouth and compensate me for the hours spent on this matter. I also reminded him that it costs six times as much to attract a new customer as hang onto an old one and that on average a disgruntled customer will tell 10 people. I mentioned my long history as a customer. I may also have mentioned the consumer advocates on two local TV stations.

Long story short, on January 8 I got a call from an assistant VP of fraud apologizing, giving me the assurance and points I wanted, and his direct line. I have since gotten a letter and brochure from a third party, the Customer Advocate’s Office, outlining the six steps of the escalation process.

The moral of the story is: you can fight the big guys and win. So hang in there, document names, dates, and what was said because giving up is not an option, from where I sit.

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