My Bank Teaches Me a Little Something About Customer Service

December 22nd, 2006.

I am not a Christmas bargain shopper. I don’t get up at 6am and head to the store so I can stand in line for a big discount on a piece of crap that no wants or needs. Instead, I stop at the bank, buy a stack of Visa gift cards, pop them in some cards, and I call it a day. Usually, the entire process takes less than 15 minutes.

This year, I forgot a couple people on my list, so I had to make a second trip to the bank. I went to a different branch this time and requested two gift cards for $35 each. To pay for them, I had them withdraw the money from my checking account. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong.

The bank tellers crowded around each other in a little semi circle whispering frantically. Finally, they called a manager type person over to help. The manager escorted me over to her desk and then plopped down in front of her computer with a dumbfounded look on her face. Every few seconds she would click something, pause, and then muse to herself, “Hmmmm.”

Normally when I buy a gift card, they type a few things into the computer, give the card a swipe and it’s done. I bought 27 gift cards just the day before and I was in and out in 10 minutes. This time? Not so much.

Twenty seven minutes after I requested my TWO gift cards, the manager handed them over to me and said, “There ya go.”

I gave the cards away the same day I bought them foolishly thinking that everything must be fine. I mean, she obviously checked and double checked the cards 10,000 times each considering how long it took her, right?

Wrong again.

Two days after giving the cards away, I got a call from one of my friends asking me why I gave her a worthless piece of plastic for Christmas. The gift card was empty.

Livid, I checked online to make sure the money I paid for the card did, in fact, come out of my checking account. Sure enough, $79.90 was withdrawn from my account the day I bought the cards.

So I called the bank. Curtly, I explained, “I just bought two gift cards from you a couple of days ago. The money was withdrawn from my account, but my friend just informed me that her gift card was empty. You can see how this situation would be pretty embarrassing for me, can’t you?”

The guy on the phone replied, “Er…let me get the Team Leader.”

A few seconds later, he came back and said, “Well, she’s busy. But we’ve been having problems with these gift cards for awhile. Here, let me read you the email we just got from corporate…”

I interrupted to say, “No thank you. I am not interested in hearing the email. Instead, I’d like to know how my situation can be resolved. Perhaps I will just call corporate myself. Can you give me the number please? Also, can you give me the name of your Team Leader so I can let them know exactly who is not helping me?”

I swear to God, I heard him blush. “Er….hold on a second,” he said.

A few minutes later, the Team Leader finally decided I was worth talking to. She picked up the phone and said, “Hi, I’m Stacey, the Team Leader. Can I get your phone number?”

I dutifully gave her my phone number and she said, “Ok, I’ll call you back.” And then she hung up on me.

Aw, hell nah.

At this point you’re probably wondering what incompetent bank I went to, aren’t you? Well, I have no qualms about disclosing that information; it was Sky Bank. Perhaps your retard kids can get a job there someday? I swear they’d fit right in.

If it were possible to infuriate me further, Stacey had managed it, so I looked up the corporate number for Sky Bank on the Internet and gave them a ring. Briefly, I explained the situation and asked for some help.

Bank Manager Type: Uh….yeah….we’ve been having some problems with the gift cards.

V: That’s comforting to know considering that I’ve already bought and sent close to 30 of them. Why are you selling them if they are not working properly? Surely you must realize how embarrassing it can be for someone like to me to give them as presents only to be told later that they don’t work?

Bank Manager: Uh….yeah. Well, we’re looking into it and when we figure it out, I’m going to explain to you exactly how this happened.

The fuck?

V: No. That won’t be necessary. I don’t care why it happened. I am not interested in the intricacies of your computer system, nor am I particularly fascinated by all the wacky hijinks that can ensue when one purchases a gift card. All I’m interested in is how my situation can adequately be resolved. Perhaps you can simply refund my money? Then maybe you can spend a few minutes convincing me that it’s still a good idea to do business with a bank that has not yet mastered a process that pizza hut perfected?

I hated to be a bitch, I really did. But by that point, I had been on the phone for damn near a half an hour and I was sick of being jerked around.

Bank Manager: Uh, sure. I guess we can do that. We can refund your money.

V:  You can? Fantastic.

So, in the end, I got my money back and I went to another bank and bought a gift card that worked. It was all one great big hassle and fuck Sky Bank for putting me through that bullshit.

Then I realized how ironic it was that I wrote an article defending people in customer service the same week a group of them pissed me off. It just goes to show me that there are dipshits on both sides of the counter. I guess that was my Christmas lesson to learn this year.

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