Sunday, March 18, 2012

Capital One, Capital Zero

I was more than a little surprised when The Dunkin Donuts Guy handed me back my bank card. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's been declined." I did that slow blink of surprise that morphed into embarrassment. "What?" I said, as I looked around at the other caffeine and sugar addicts hoping no one had overheard. Unlike my credit card, with which I have a love-hate-denial-did-I-say-hate relationship, my bank card is linked to my checking account. I keep a precise mental tally of my account balance that would make Ebenezer Scrooge say, "Damn Boo!" 

The Dunkin Donuts Guy graciously swiped my card again but we both knew the result would be the same. Luckily I had the cash but the rest of the transaction went by in a blur because all I could think about was calling Capital One to find out what was going on. 

What was going on was fraud. Apparently there was a security breach (again) prompting the bank to cancel and reissue my card. That's great. Good looking out. But I surely would have appreciated a heads up. I shouldn't have had to hear it from the Dunkin Donuts Guy. 

The Phone Bank Lady told me that Capital One would be sending me a letter with my reissued card explaining what had happened. A letter? In 2012? Are you kidding me? That's the modern day equivalent of jotting it down on a piece of papyrus, burying it in the desert, and hoping a sexy man in a fedora, with a whip, and five o’clock shadow would find it before the Germans.

"Why would you do this without telling me first?" 

"Ma'am," she said. "We take security very seriously."

"Really?" I said. "How serious could you be if this is happening for the second time in 10 months?" 

The Capital One commercial slogan asks: “What's in your wallet?” Apparently a welcome mat.

I would think a bank card cancellation due to a security breach rated at least an email. How about a text message? Why did I bother signing up for online banking and installing the app on my phone if not for the bank to contact me in case of an emergency? Stranded with no money on a Sunday with no access to cash? Yeah, that's an emergency. 

Now, for the record, I'm a big girl. Well, I'm not exactly big. By American standards I'm small. By Asian standards I'm an Amazon. But I digress. The point is, I'm grown. Do I have a back up card in my wallet? Of course I do, but that is so not the point. 

The Bank Lady informed me that I could go into the branch on Monday to get a temporary card. "Oh can I?" I said. As if I didn't have anything else to do. "And what if I was traveling out of the state or out of the country as I often do where there is no Capital One branch, what then?" Suddenly I'm Blanche Dubois depending on the kindness of strangers? 

"I'm sorry," she said.  
"Yes," I said. "Yes, you are."

Does that sound cold? Good. There's a lot worse things I could've said like: "Don't even think about asking me for another $3.5 billion bailout. We’re done." 

A customer service-centered bank would have called, emailed and texted me. They would have over-nighted me a replacement card to where ever I was on the planet. If they respected me and my business they would have done their best to make it right. That didn't happen. 

Here's what did: 

I went into my branch, explained the situation, and they looked at me like I was crazy. "We can't give you a card," The Cranky Branch Banker said. "I don't know why they told you that." 

"'They? They?!?' Don't you work for the same company? They is you. Why can't you help me?" 
"If they told you a replacement card is on it's way, then I can't issue you one here."  
"But I won’t get that for seven days.
Indeed. How they ever let this sour-faced woman out of the teller cage I'll never know. 

As luck would have it -- and by luck I mean my husband did his Angry-Entitled-White-Guy Thing; the type of thing that would get a brother shot -- and Cranky Branch Banker Two stepped in to help. She checked the computer -- something Cranky One never offered to do since she was too busy exercising her frowny-face muscles -- and discovered that in fact no replacement card had been requested or sent. Cranky Two gave me a temporary on the spot. Mind you, this was already 24 hours and three arguments into the process.

Why does this bother me so much? My side hustle is corporate training for large, well-known financial institutions who understand and invest in making sure their people -- senior executives on down – consistently deliver the best customer service to their clients. It is clear to me that Capital One is not doing that. Had I been "on the job" I would have been taking names and recommending that people be fired immediately. To quote that catchy commercial slogan, that I’m sure was ripped off from the late comedian, Robin Harris: "Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now! Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!” 

There's no, and I mean NO excuse for a retail bank of Capital One’s size and stature to not be fully utilizing current technology to support and inform its customers. There's gotta be an app for that.

No, I'm not a high net worth customer, but if and when I am you can rest assured I will not be banking with Capital One. Taking my money and giving me intentionally bad service, that's fraud. And who's protecting me from that? Certainly not Capital Zero.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. In case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also a pretty good stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

No comments: