Why customer service and your bank account are in the red.

It has been an interesting few weeks for me customer service wise. I had a tiff with Apple over how their update of ios8 caused my fiance’s phone to crash midway through the update, forcing us to restore the phone. Of course, once we go to upload the back up of it, because magically (even though I had never touched the encrypted back up button) it has become encrypted. Luckily, my fiance and I were able to try almost every password we have ever used an found one that worked for it and we got his phone running ios8, and restored all his old information (though we did have to reinstall a few apps that for some reason did not store in the back up). The result of all this was a round-about conversation on Apple support chat (mind you, apple wants to charge people $19 just to talk to a support team online or over the phone. No joke, $19 for customer service), about how Apple created a password encrypted function but provides no way to recover the password if forgotten. Though they were able to point me in several directions to help find the password (none of which worked, and all of which I had explored before starting the chat), it still left me going “I am seriously glad this shit happened when updating so I did not have to pay $19 for some idiot to tell me he couldn’t help.”

In all seriousness though, when did it become a thing for companies to charge you more money to help with a product that they sold you originally? $19 for help with any apple product or service unless I want to clamor down to the nearest Apple store, (which for some people may not be a close though for me there are probably 4 within 20 minutes of me) with my device only to be told they cannot help me. $19 for some under trained kid to not only provide me with no answers to my problems, but to then just transfer me to another person when I have clearly surpassed his knowledge after the first five minutes of the chat. Customer service is the backbone of any company. Every company has customers of some sort, and every company provides services of some sort, but to really succeed you have to provide good customer service so that your customers keep coming back. Why on earth would I want to keep purchasing products or services from a company that charges me just to help me with those products and services. As a young professional who is looking to upgrade their computer and tablet soon, never in my mind did I think to stray from my beloved Apple products. They are easy, efficient and work for what I need. But why would I stay with Apple when if I have a simple question of how to find someone on my computer, or how to use a product on the my computer, I have to pay $19 on top of the crazy prices I pay for the products themselves. I have spent thousands of dollars at Apple. My Macbook pro was a $1200 purchase alone and now as I look to upgrade it (it is 5 years old at this point and gratefully still works wonderfully but it is time for an upgrade) I am contemplating if it is worth the prices I pay to stay with Apple only to know that if I need help in the future I will be paying even more money.

I think the worst case of customer service I encountered was earlier tonight. My fiance went and looked at his bank account only to discover that it was negative almost $300. Flabbergasted at the amount the account had fallen into the red, I struck out to investigate what pulled the balance down. I have had a bank of america count since I was in high school. I have dealt with their online chat a few times, mostly when I mess up, lose track of my finances and I am crawling to them, begging them to not charge me an over draft fee. They are usually very polite and nice and offer a refund as I have been a very good customer over the years and typically don’t overdraft. Lately though, there seems to be a rise in the number of times I find my account and my fiance’s account ovedrafted. Tonight was the last straw though, after seeing how in the red his account had fallen I began to look through the transactions and discovered a shocking trend. On my account, no matter what I do, if my account does not have enough money in it, no transaction will go through whether it is online, an automatic payment or in store. It will not approve the transactions. Tonight we made the shocking discovery that on my fiance’s account, automatic payments and online transactions will go through even if his account has a negative balance. Apparently, there are settings you must change on your account manually if you do not want these transactions to be permitted.

This was a shocking discovery as I had never heard of this, nor had I thought he or I would need to go and change settings in our accounts so that we would not be hit with more and more over draft fees for things we did not cancel because our accounts were low on funds. In the past, my account has always just declined the transactions from things like Hulu or Netflix if my account did not have the funds to cover the amount, just like it would in store if my account did not have the necessary funds to pay for the items I wanted to purchase. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a national bank would have such an unethical business practice.

What was even worse than this discovery? The actions of the customer service chat representative we dealt with. We dealt with two people, the first one was quick to explain that we had to change settings and then transferred us on, and that is where the fun began. Not only was it a rude, disrespectful and overall repetitive chat, I was accused of using “inappropriate language” and told that would not be tolerated. Now, while I may swear a lot in my day-to-day life, I never once uttered an inappropriate word, used any racial slurs of any kind, demeaned or defamed the person I was speaking with. I merely pointed out a few times that several banks have been hit with other law suits due to similar practices and that bank of america itself has been ordered to pay upward of $114 million dollars because of these types of practices, and that they are still in trouble with the federal government and are facing penalties of over $10 billion dollars because of the way they have conducted business in regards to mortgages and the federal bailout they received.

We requested numerous times the name and employee ID of the person we were speaking with along with his managers name and contact information. First we were told his full name, but that he has no identification number

“you: sir , please provide me your an employee id and the contact information of your immediate supervisor
Dominic: You can use this chat conversation for your reference. My Full name Dominic Pattinson.”
Having also requested the information of his manager, we were met with declarations that he was the last point of contact and that there was no one else. When we went on to press him for information on if he was in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america, we got this:
“Dominic: I am the last point of contact. I would not have a supervisor.
you: i find that a blatant lie
Dominic: You can use this transcript for your reference.
you: no sir
you: i have the right to know the name and contact of your higher up.
you: so you are telling me you are in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america.
Dominic: No, I am not.
Dominic: However, you can contact our Manager Mr. Sri Kumar Bagri.”
So we request this managers contact information, and we are met with:
“you: but you have a manager, which means there are people above you, you are not the last person.
Dominic: I am afraid, my manager would not interact with customers directly, so I am the last point of contact via chat channel.”
But, didn’t you just tell me that I could contact your manager? I then ask how I contact him, he told me to call the call center and ask for a manager, but that I would be connected to an immediately manager and NOT the one he has told us we could contact.

After hours of round about, deplorable customer service where the representative did nothing but copy and paste the same thing he had said before, over and over and over and over again, having been refused direct information for his manager, I was then told that he had made a final decision and that even if I called and talked to someone else I would be declined the refund of these unethical overdraft fees. I was taken aback by this assertion that no matter who I talked to, no one would help me, even worse, before I could even craft a censored response (by this point I just want to yell profanities at him) he then attempted to rush me off the chat by saying he had made the decision and that unless I wanted help with another matter he had done all he could do. I kept him on by saying I was not done discussing this issue, and while I was stalling by asking what had prompted him to make such a large declaration, an easy internet search pulled up the LinkedIn profile of his manager.

I simply said to “Dominic” that I had found the contact information and suddenly, there is someone else there whom I can speak with. Shocking? I think not. Having found the manager easily, I simply pulled the law card and inquired as if I was speaking to someone who was in the United States or in India (By law, if requested, you must be transferred to someone inside of the United States), also not shocking, none of the three people we had been directed to were in the United States, Samantha, Dominic and Ian (doubtful those are real names at this point) were all in India. Though there is chat support in the United States they were unavailable at the time of my chat. Maybe if Samantha, Dominic and Ian had not kept me occupied for over 3 hours going around in circles I would have been able to chat with someone who was in the same country as I am.

Best part of being transferred to “Ian,” This little bit of lovely information:

“you: and why can I not just speak with him?
Ian: The chat cannot be transferred to our managers, as we are the last point of contact over the chat.
you: Does he not have a phone number?
Ian: I can assist you with the contact number, however our manager is currently not available”
WHOA! I just spent THREE HOURS, yes, you saw that correctly, THREE HOURS(!), trying to get this contact number for the manager, was told I could not have it, was told it was not available, was told I could not contact the manager directly (while being told I could contact him) and it takes asking the third person to be given the information I want. I think my brain just exploded to be honest.

In the end, I am settling for a call back from someone in the United States within the next 24-48 hours as I highly doubt “Dominic’s” decision is the final decision as he tried to declare. Should be a very fun wait.

My fiance and I are considering filing suit against bank of america though due to the unethical practices of bank of america. I am sure this would not just benefit us, but probably others who have experienced the same problems with bank of america. If you have experienced this, then don’t sit there and allow yet another corporation to get away with gauging American citizens of their hard-earned money. Though we are told our economy is recovering, even those of us with full-time, well-paying jobs are struggling with the rising cost of food, housing and gas. The more people who come forward with these problems, the more likely it is that those affected will not only make monetary gains, but could warn not only bank of america, but other financial institutions as well that these unethical overdraft fee practices will not be tolerated by the banking customers any longer. I know that I will no longer sit back and be forced out of money I work extremely hard for.

 

~SKG

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