Archive for September, 2008

Is customer service worth a penny?

Thursday, September 25, 2008
United States Penny

United States Penny

Just this week I reconciled my credit card statement and noticed I had been billed an extra penny on one charge. I got to thinking, “it’s just a penny. Do I really want to go through the hassle for that penny?” Well, as the saying goes, a penny found is a penny earned. And unfortunately, I had to earn this penny by dealing with my credit card’s customer service department.

Customer Service is an extension of one’s brand. If your customer’s experience with your service department is anything but positive, you are sure to damage your brand image in the mind of that consumer. For Capital One, it took 20 minutes and one penny to tarnish my thought of a quality credit card company. The business rules you write for your customer service department need to be reasonable and your employees need to be trained. Failure in either of these areas could cost you business.

Now, I’ve been a long time customer of Capital One and have paid my share of interest over the years. So I figure myself to be a pretty good customer. I’ve paid my bills on time and have rarely had to contact customer service. I wondered just how hard it would be to earn my penny.

First off, it took several menus to get to the “speak to a customer representative” statement. I should have known better to just hit zero, but I didn’t. I’ll take that mistake on myself.

After hitting zero on the phone, a pleasant female voice takes my call and I explain my situation that I was billed $38.23 instead of $38.22 as my receipt shows. The purchase was made online from a mass-retailer for some digital photos I had printed and mailed to my address. An additional receipt was included with my prints. She asked if I had contacted the retailer. I said no, it was the credit card with which I had an issue. I was placed on hold for about 30 seconds.

All of a sudden a gentleman answers the phone wanting to know how he can help. I stated that I was already being helped and I do not know why I was transferred to him. He assured me that he could help. So, I explained my situation again. And again, I was put on hold. Less than a minute later, he returned telling me he was going to transfer me to the dispute department.

I reminded him that he assured me that he could take care of my issue. He said he is only able to write off anything under $10.

“You realize that this is only one penny,” I asked.

He assured me the dispute department would be able help me. I got Peter’s name and also asked for his last name. He refused and instead offered is ID number. Apparently it is against Capital One’s policy to give out your last name.  It is just first name and ID number. Peter assured me he would talk with the department first to explain my situation so I would not have to go through all of the explanation myself.

Next, I spoke with Rudy and his ID number in the dispute department.  Peter did a fine job of relaying my information. And of course, Rudy assured me he could take care of my issue….after some further qualification as to who I was. For security purposes I suppose.

“You were billed an extra penny?” Rudy asked.

“Yes, Rudy, It is one penny and three people later,” I replied. “Can you take care of this one penny?”

After another hold, Rudy returned and said that the penny will be adjusted and that my next statement will show the correct.

So after about 20 minutes, I earned my penny back. At 3 cents an hour, I would earn $62.40 a year. But, how much did it cost Capital One? For one, I don’t ever want to call their customer service. Of course, maybe they don’t want me to either. Secondly, if their customer service is this poor for one penny, what might it be like should I have a real claim, a lost card, fraudulent transaction, stolen identity, etc. They have certainly lost my confidence in them.

Will this event change my behavior and force me to choose another credit card? I’m not sure it has come to that. But I have certainly begun to think if Capital One remains as whats in my wallet.