We are REALLY sorry, now about that hard sell?

Some weeks ago I received the attached message and new credit card from Citicards:


I was not happy to hear that my personal data may have been compromised, but at least I live in a State that requires that a company tell me when such an event happens. In too many places that is still not the case and such an event can be quietly forgotten, more than six years after California became the first state to require such disclosure.

As usual, I’m required to activate the card by phone. I call and my home number is recognized and the activation proceeds smoothly. Till I get the message ‘Please hold for a representative.’ Oh, oh. It’s a cunning move as I can’t drop the call just in case the activation isn’t completed properly.

Turns out that there isn’t a problem with activation, but Citicard – in their misguided wisdom – want to do the hard sell on me. I’m pressured for additional services that I neither want or need. This in response to a major cock up in their systems and processes. Who on earth thought that ANY message other than a contrite apology for all the hassle that comes a credit card number change was a good idea?

Is that how you would treat your customer? I hope not. If one of my clients is ever in that situation my advice is to apologize, be contrite and ask what the company can do to make amends. Not to apply the high pressure sales tactics, with not so much as a ‘by your leave.’

And to add insult to injury, I can no longer download transactions from my Citicard account into Quicken which I use for my business and personal finances. 12 weeks later, I still can’t. ‘Customer Service’ tells me that they don’t know when it will be fixed.

Hey it’s only three months, for a feature that I’ve come to depend on. Fortunately, this is not a card I use a lot, so the volume of transactions can be hand entered, but it is a pain. And each time I have to do that for a monthly reconciliation, I’m reminded about the abysmal customer experience that Citicard makes me go through.

Compare and contrast with the customer experience at my other credit card – American Express – they have invariably done the right thing.

Citibank can send me as much marketing bumf and encouragement to spend. It won’t make me use their card, except when I have no alternative. Oh, and the last statement came with a notification that my APR is now 29+%!!!

Definitely feel like a valued customer!

So, how do YOU treat your customer when something bad happens? Do you go out of your way to make amends? And to make sure that each interaction thereafter reinforces the positives – and doesn’t keep rubbing salt in the sore wound?

Are you SURE?