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The Death of Competent Service

For three weeks, every time I have gone online to review my bank accounts, a pop-up from the bank has insisted that I “verify my address.” Clicking on “Verify” generates a message that this process has failed, and that a call to the bank is the next step. After seeing this message for a couple of weeks, I determined to resolve the problem. We have not moved or changed addresses in five years. The message teasingly indicates that a mysterious piece of mail was reportedly returned as undeliverable. Did I miss something?

A thorough review of the many numerical choices at the tollfree number reveals nothing helpful, so a customer service agent seems like the best alternative. After I briefly explain the situation, she cautiously indicates that she cannot help, but will forward me to someone in business accounts who can. The business account agent’s voice comes through my earpiece, asking about the problem. Again I repeat the brief story. Again, I learn that this CSR cannot help me, but she will be glad to send my call to the address change department. Repeat process with CSRs numbered 3, 4, 5, and 6. At this point, my exasperation overtakes my common sense (which is screaming, “This can’t be that important. It will eventually go away and it’s not hurting anyone”) and I firmly voice an epithet at the call-holding music.

Agent #6 resolves the problem quickly: this is a standard address check procedure. After a series of security questions, she clears the alert and announces that my account is clear. Hallelujah! But her comment gets my attention: “I don’t know why the other agents were unable to do this. It’s standard procedure here.” It seems that a confirmation approach to business account security has not been discussed with the agents in business accounts, address change division and so on. And there never was a returned mail piece, only the possibility of such.

I’m thinking: five of six persons hired and paid to support accountholders were unable to resolve a small, “standard address check” problem. What’s the point of having customer service if they cannot, well, serve the customer? Heaven help us if I ever have a serious account violation.

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