Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Bank, The Vendor, and Me

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

I toyed with naming names but The Who isn’t as important as The What: piss poor customer service from corporations that should know better. But for clarity let’s call the relevant players My Bank, The Vendor, and Me.
I paid a bill online but due to a website error I was double billed. I contacted My Bank and they said there was nothing they could do. An electronic payment is not like a check. You can’t request a stop payment. Once the funds are approved it’s out of their hands. I called The Vendor and they said there was nothing they could do either, because they did not yet “see” the money in their system and most likely wouldn’t for up to 72 hours. And poof just like that over $1,000 of my money was gone off into the ether. 

This left me with a few questions: Where was my money? Who had charge of it? Who was going to help me get it back now, now three days from now?

Unwilling to wait and see if things would just magically work themselves out, I got on the phone. I was bounced back and forth between My Bank and The Vendor more vigorously than a tennis ball at Wimbledon. At no point did anyone take responsibility. At no point did anyone apologize. My Bank did tell me that if The Vendor faxed them a Release Authorization, they could reverse the charge. The Vendor said they couldn’t do that for funds they couldn’t “see” and besides and I quote: “We’ve just moved to a new location and we don’t have a fax machine.”

Yes, in case you think that’s a typo let me write it again. An employee at a multi-million dollar corporation told a customer that they did not have a fax machine.

The emerging pattern of ineptitude while consistent was not comforting. It was with supreme effort that I restrained myself from suggesting that they take some of the money they’d gotten from double billing me and go buy a freaking fax machine. They should be able to get a really nice one, maybe two, for just under a grand.

It didn’t help that The Vendor was located in New York, their bank was in California, and their call center was in Florida making it easy to pass the buck amongst themselves. (I have no idea where their Web Guy was. Probably eating Doritos in his mother’s basement.) Technology exists to make the geography of back-office operations seamless for customers or at least it should. When it doesn’t, I need a Human Being to listen, strategize, and do some common sense, hands-on problem solving. To say, “Let’s see what we can do” and mean it. In short, I’ma need you to step outside The Matrix.

Happy ending, sort of: I got the money back in my account the next day but I had help. It took two adults the better part of a day to cajole, implore, strong arm, and push this issue up the food chain with both My Bank and The Vendor to an acceptable resolution. But I still have questions:  First and foremost, why it gotta be like that? Why does anyone have to fight so hard to be treated properly and fairly in the first place?

If the United States Supreme Court is right and corporations are people now, then they should have the decency to treat their customers like people as well. You see personhood comes at a price. A newly sentient being has the responsibility to ask itself what kind of person it intends to be. Does hearing the name of your company bring a smile to my face or do I clutch my purse, and teach my children to never be alone in a room with you? Are you friend or foe? Heres a hint, good people dont accidentally take money that doesnt belong to them and say theres nothing they can do about returning it.

The Urban Erma, the longest running column on, was created and written by stand-up comedian Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, Like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, And share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) Get her free e-books of The Great Spanx Experiment and Sometimes I Wish Facebook Had a Hate Button. 

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