Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Now, On The Other Hand

Note: This entry appeared in my original blog, "Home|Work"

I've spent the last two entries griping about bad customer service. I've complained about the moronic and insensitive louts who sometimes lie in wait at the end of the help line waiting to waste my time and boil my blood. I'm sure, however, that only a small percentage of customer service reps are truly unhappy with their jobs and are just waiting to take it out on me. A vast majority of them are just like you and I. We have our good days and we have our bad. A select few, though, seem to be willing and empowered by their employers to go above and beyond the call. This is one such tale.

My wife and I are pretty good with our finances. Before I met her, I usually only had the vaguest guess as to how much money I had in the bank. I paid more fees than I would care to count because I thought I had more than I did and the check that I wrote wasn't quite covered by the funds I had available. Before we got married she helped me get on the straight and narrow (for which I am eternally grateful). Still, when it was time to put her name on my account, we decided to get the overdraft protection, just in case.

For the longest time we had no need for the protection. Then as often happens, we made a slight change to our spending and, "wham!" we were overdrawn. Suddenly we had a $64 overdraft charge and a $12 monthly maintenance fee (which is waived in months when you don't have an overdraft). Needless to say, I thought this was a bit excessive, even if it was my fault.

So, I put on my telephone headset and decided to brace the lion in its den. I always use my headset when I am calling up institutions. I figured that I'll be on the line for a while. So I, with great reluctance, dialed the number of our financial institution, Bank One (soon to be Chase).

Remarkably, I got through to an actual person in minutes. Wow! When they say they care about my call, maybe they really do. After all, they apparently have enough people to answer the phone! The rep who answered was exceptionally polite and listened to my entire story before going onward. Don't you just love it when people listen to you? First, came the bad news. "I'm sorry, Mr. Peters, but overdraft protection has not been activated on this account." Oh, drat. I knew what was coming next -- "There is nothing I can do." or "I'm sorry, it's just our policy."

Then, a miracle occurred. This angel of mercy told me that since it was their fault, she would be able to waive not only the overdraft fee, but also the maintenance fee. You could have knocked me over with a ten dollar bill -- actually I would be diving to get that since, remember, I had insufficient funds at the time. Prior to making the call, I was seriously considering switching to a different bank. Afterward I had a new respect for an institution which would give their reps the power to make things right with the customer. I went into the call knowing that I had done wrong. The nice thing was, I didn't come out feeling worse.

I think I'll be sticking with Bank One/Chase for a good time to come.

I can't be the only one who has been impressed by a particularly exceptional act of customer support. I'd love to hear your story. Drop me a line through the comments section.

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