Yesterday was a day from Hell, mainly due to two companies – AT&T and Chase Bank. Normally, I’m a huge fan of both – I’ve been a customer of these companies for a decade, which says a lot.
It started with AT&T. We setup a POTS line at home for our new security system about 30 days ago and received a welcome pack but no bill. Friday we received our first bill – a disconnection notice, letting us know the service would be terminated if we didn’t pay by.this following Friday. I tried to pay the bill online, but you have to get an online registration code to do so, and this can only be obtained by either a phone call to your home or through snail mail. Given we don’t have a a home phone hooked up (recall its only for our security system?), snail mail is my only option. First fail.
In the meantime, I need to make a payment by phone to prevent disconnection. I called the number on the bill, which of course is an automated voice recognition system. No matter, I have a college degree and healthy amount of patience, I can do this. I get through the entire system, slowly reading out my credit card info, only to be told its declined. I know for a fact there are plenty of funds. I tried again, then pressed zero until I got a live person on the line. I pilotely explained the situation and that the automated system was apparently having issues with my card. The representative didn’t apologize for my trouble but did inform me she could process the payment manually but there would be a $5 ‘convenience’ charge. I told her there was nothing convenient about the entire situation and confirmed that she was telling me I would have to pay $5 just to be able to pay my bill. She said yes, and I promptly hung up. I called back to get a different rep (commonly referred to as ‘Rep Roulette’) and got Antoinette – after having to go through the entire automated process again. She was very helpful, and said that if it was their system not taking my payment, I wouldn’t be charged the convenience fee (finally).
However, when Antoinette tried to take my credit card as payment, she received an error, too. We tried my other Chase Bank debit card, but got the same result. I then asked if she could do a check-by-phone if I gave her my routing number and account number, which she could. This went through, but now I needed to call Chase Bank to figure out why my cards hadn’t gone through.
I first logged into my Chase Online account and found that there were several ‘pending’ charges on both cards – obviously the attempted charges that the automated system couldn’t process. Apparently, even though I have 3 other AT&T bills that I pay *EVERY MONTH*, Chase Bank decided these were potential fraud, and so blocked them and locked my debit cards – both of them. It’s a good thing I was home and not out on the road trying to use them for something important, like gas. While on the phone with Antoinette, I had missed a call from a 1-800 number on my other phone, and the voicemail confirmed it was Chase Bank’s fraud department trying to confirm things. I decided to call them back to get things cleared up, and this is where it all went to pot.
Chase’s fraud department starts with an automated line. There’s no shortcut, that I could figure out, to get to a live person – you have to suffer through all the prompts. This includes confirming your identity by answering 2 or 3 multiple-choice questions about your credit history. After you’re confirmed, the system goes through and reads out every single potentially fraudulent charge – with no way to skip around. You’re then given the option to press 1 if all of the charges are OK, or press 2 if one or more are fraud. There is no option to press X for an operator – only by pressing zero about 15 times does the system ‘offer’ to connect you. At this point, I’m already quite pissed off – I’ve wasted roughly an hour on this whole stupid process. After exiting the automated Chase system, I’m given hold music, with a promise that someone will be with me shortly. After 15 minutes of hold music, the automated voice comes back on and, I kid you not, says something like, ‘I’m sorry it’s taken so long – we don’t have any available representatives at this time. As soon as one is available, we will have them call you back on this number’ and then it simply disconnects – there is no option to keep holding, at all. I had to go through this process three times before I FINALLY got a representative! After explaining the situation to him, he confirmed that I had both of the cards in my possession, but was unable to prevent the duplicate charges from going through to my account. He simply said, ‘If their automated system said it didn’t go through, you *should* be OK’.
Excuse me, you’re my bank, I’m your customer, and you’ve got all my money in there, and you’re telling me it ‘should’ be fine, and there’s nothing you can do otherwise? Are you freakin kidding me? There was basically nothing I could do, and I’d already wasted 2 hours of my day off jacking around with this, so I confirmed that both of my cards were unlocked and able to be used without hassle.
Both companies meant well, but here’s some ways this could have gone better (in case either of them are reading this).
1. AT&T – an ‘online registration code’ is the dumbest thing ever. I have 3 other accounts with you, I promise it’s me.
2. AT&T – the notion of a $5 ‘convenience’ fee for having a live person take my payment is beyond ridiculous. You should be glad I’m paying you at all – I’d guess there are alot of your customers who don’t.
3. Chase – I really appreciate you guys keeping such a close eye on my account – really I do. However, you have to make it easier for me to manage this – having to call in, sit through the entire automated system, then sit on hold for 15 minutes to just be disconnected is a 100% guaranteed way to piss off your customers.