A few weeks back I wrote about how it is each consumer's responsibility to give constructive feedback to companies. It is also each customer's responsibility to demand good customer service from those companies. As an example, I give you a story in which I clawed my way to good customer service.
My purse, along with my wallet, were stolen in August 2008. Both my Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual credit cards were used fraudulently. After I canceled both and filed a claim with both banks, I waited. Wells Fargo (my darling) reimbursed me the money within two weeks. I waited on Washington Mutual...
Then I faxed in an affidavit, a copy of my police report and other supporting documents to Washington Mutual and waited...
Nothing. I faxed it in again. Waited. Nothing. I faxed in again. Waited. Nothing.
In December, I decided to call their customer service. They told me they did not receive my documents, so I faxed them in again. Nothing. The fax machine was not broken, by the way. And so then I started calling them bi-weekly. Great fun. After a few such frequent calls, when they would tell me different things each time (i.e. they do not have my affidavit, they do not have my police report) or just blatantly disconnecting me from the call, I had had enough.
So one evening I was at work at 8 p.m. and I was already pissed off about being there late. And I had spent half an hour waiting for a customer service representative (with annoying not-even-advertisement music playing in the background...I mean, if you are going to make your customers wait, why would you not give them the quiet to work on something else?!!) only to hear that they do not have my document and that I should call back when I send it in. I was fuming, so I finally mustered the courage and desperation to launch an executive email carpet bomb (EECB).
The basic idea of an EECB is to send an email with a plea for help to all the top executives of the company. By this time, Washington Mutual had become Chase. So I went to my favorite consumer blog The Consumerist, looked up Chase's executives email addresses and typed out the angry email. And then I went to Chase's SEC filings and found the names of all VP's and non-executive Directors and typed their email addresses into my Gmail address line.
Now, I am not completely unreasonable and I understand that Chase executives are important. So I took the time to address my letter to each individually (thank God for cut and paste). I wrote an angry email in which I told each man that I had had a very bad customer service experience with his bank, that Wells Fargo is awesome and that I would like Jamie Dimon and gang to "please read over carefully and see to it so that [my issue] gets resolved." I typed out the subject line of "PLEASE HELP" in all Caps, attached a PDF of all supporting documents and went home satisfied.
The next day, three women called me back from Chase Executive Customer Service, gave me their direct extensions and promised to personally follow up on this matter. They were all very nice. Two weeks later, my money was refunded. I am pretty sure that my email never got to any of the executives, but I did get what I want. But even though my money was refunded thanks to the work of very nice women, the bank wasted a lot of my time, so I will be canceling my credit card.
- When companies do not listen to you, which they will most likely not in our bad economy, you have to creatively take matter into your own hands.
- No one (really – no one) will take care of you. You have to take care of yourself.
- You have to act. I sat around doing nothing for half a year because I was too lazy or afraid to act and demand good customer service from a company. Once I acted, I got it.
- Vote on companies with your money. I will be canceling my WaMu/Chase card and transferring those purchases to my Wells Fargo card.
- EECB's are just awesome.
Next up – LabCorp. CEO David King got paid $8.2 million in 2008 (well, a lot of it is in out-of-the money options...but still), so surely they can afford to refund me the money that they grossly overcharged me. But that is a story for another time.