Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Look Mom...I'm a Consumer Advocate

A few weeks ago, while I was embroiled in my huge Dell computer repair saga, I was also engaged in a battle with my bank. It's a long story about data theft and credit card replacement but the long and short of it is I became extremely frustrated with the lack of customer service during this incident. As with my Dell dilemma, I believe in going straight to the top so I wrote a letter to the bank's Chairman of the Board. On Tuesday, when I returned home from my Library meeting, there was a message on my answering machine from someone representing the bank. He called and left a second message yesterday so today, before leaving for my meeting at 6:00AM, I called him since he is located in an earlier time zone.

It turns out this person works in the office of the bank's President of Card Services...oohhh...doesn't that sound official? My letter had made its way from the Chairman of the Board's office to his and he was calling to respond to my concerns. We spent 20 minutes on the phone discussing my letter and the issues I raised about the actions taken by the bank during this incident and the lack of customer service provided by the bank's representatives. I was particularly pleased when the young man complimented me on my letter for its concise but focused list of various issues (I just love using bulleted lists...they make things seem so organized and important). Anyway, he told me that my letter had been discussed in great detail during a recent meeting and was being sent to all the departments and units involved in the incident.

Of course the question is whether any of it will make any real difference in the way in which the bank conducts business and I'm certainly not holding my breath. Let's face it...these major institutions have very little interest in individual consumer experiences....their focus is on the big picture and the big profits. Writing the letter, however, certainly made me feel better and at least I can say I tried.

12 comments:

Renee said...

We consumers have much more pull than we think we do. If you really wanted to put a company through the ringer...all you would have to do is mention your outrage on your blog.

Others would read it and post if they've had similar problems with that same company and it would soon be all over with people posting their displeasure...so you've got people mad enough to boycott. It can go global quickly. Do businesses realize this, I think they do... otherwise you wouldn't have gotten the call.

I once had some snaps come off of DD's clothes in the wash. grant it the outfits were old and she was just about too big for them...but I sent them to the manufacturer with a letter. My letter started a recall and I received two outfits in a larger size for DD.

Lynn said...

I think that you should charge the company for consulting fees, since they are taking information from your letter to inform/train their personnel.

Midlife Mom said...

Hey, how nice to be able to write a letter that causes so much comotion in a big company! Good job!

On your horse question on my last blog yes most horses like to swim if they get the chance. Mine LOVE it and I have to be careful because they will swim out really deep if I let them.

patches said...

Glad you received a response to your petition. Some industries are more interested in rectifying bad customer service than others. Maybe their interest is dictated by how competitive the market is for their services. I've never had much success with letter writing. I think I'll try your idea about bulleting items. It makes for a speedier read, and reduces complaints to their barest essentials.

meno said...

I'm proud of you. You did something instead of just bitching (which is my technique).

Tracey said...

I agree. With everything! Writing certainly does make one feel better, as you've taken action. It helps you burn off that it of anger, regardless of action taken at the other end. But hopefully they'll have paid attention to what you had to say!

Customer service is so lacking everywhere these days =(

Pam said...

Way to go! Sometimes it pays to go straight to the top.

Patti said...

Bullet points do make for a professional look, I agree.
Good for you for taking it to the top.

Joan said...

Renee: I'm happy to hear that the clothing company responded to a dangerous situation in such a proactive way...and it was certainly nice of them to send you 2 outfits for DD.

Lynn: I'm definitely not holding my breath...besides, I can only do one "consulting" job at a time and the Library has me booked.

Midlife mom: If causing a comotion helps them learn something, then I'm glad I did it.

Patches: Remember to always send a letter of complaint directly to the President, Chairman of the Board, or Chief Executive Officer...whichever muckie-muck's name you can locate. I find that usually gets somebody's attention.

Meno: Oh...I bitched too but only to my husband.

Tracey: It's amazing how much anger I released as I wrote the letter...by the end, I was actually pretty calm.

Pam: I learned long ago that "the top" is the only place that will listen.

Patti: Bullet points are my favorite tool in wordprocessing...they make even the most disorganized thoughts look organized.

Patti said...

Joan, I have a favor to ask, in a blogospheric sort of way.

Joan said...

Patti: What favor would you like to ask??? Please, go right ahead.

Patti said...

Joan, just wondering...
You are retired, and like to do research.
I am tired, and have no energy for research.
So I wondered if you could see if I, as a journalist, would be plagiarizing myself if I shared some previously published stuff.

There's no deadline!! Whenever.
;-)