The story in the New York Times is compelling for everyone with a credit card. A 60 year old professor who once had his identity stolen was skeptical of online transactions. Then his mobile phone provider, T-mobile decided that they would charge an extra fee to customers who insisted on paying their bills the old fashioned way. The professor took a deep breath and decided to go the digital route, even as T-mobile caved in to customer complaints and reversed its old-school penalty fee. The professor didn’t go back. He would stay in the digital age.
Eventually, the professor would move further into the online world, signing up for bank cards to increase savings. Then noting an opportunity to increase frequent-flier miles, there he was again, signing up for an American-Express business account. Incidentally, there are about 1.5 billion credit cards in circulation today with the majority belonging to Americans. Regardless, when the professor logged in to his account, someone else’s information appeared. Every transaction plus all sorts of personal information about the other customer filled up his screen. If he so wished, he could change the billing address and add extra card users. Not a good thing if you’re the other person.
Being an honest man, the professor reported the incident to the American Express customer service center in India. But it would be several weeks and numerous calls before the problem was solved. Not very good customer service, especially if your credit card life is open to a complete stranger who can make changes. It may or may not have been an isolated incident because everyone makes mistakes. But if businesses really want to keep their customers, shouldn’t they be paying closer attention? True customer service here would have the first line staff saying – OMG, we have a problem, let’s fix it now.
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