Merchant Banking Customer Disservice

I had the following discussion with my merchant banking company this week:

Me: Hello, I’m calling to see why my monthly fees have doubled.

Customer Service: It’s because you haven’t completed your PCI compliance documents. We raised your fees starting in September because you haven’t completed the forms.

Me: I’m not aware of any such requirement. Did you mail or email me a notice?

Customer Service: We notified you via the portal.

Me: The portal? I’m not aware of any portal. I’ve been a customer since 2007 and I’ve never heard of a portal.

Customer Service: Well, that’s how we notified you. It’s in your contract.

Me: You are saying you notified me via a portal that I’m completely unaware of. Do you know how ridiculous this sounds?

Customer Service: Yes.

Me: How does that make any sense?

Customer Service: We apologize for that.

Me: So, what do I have to do to get back to our agreed normal billing amount?

Customer Service: You need to complete your PCI compliance documentation. But, I have to have someone do some work first before you can access the PCI compliance documentation in the portal and clear up this issue. The request has timed-out and needs to be reset. That may take a couple of days.

Me: You need to know I’m going to blog about this.

What’s wrong with this picture?

  • No notice or acceptance of a billing rate change by me—their customer
  • No notice of a billing rate change that will occur if I don’t comply with their documentation requirements
  • No responsibility to service a long-standing customer with a phone call, email or snail mail notice
  • The onus and financial penalties are completely on the customer for a process that has not been communicated

Perhaps the next time someone asks me if I have merchant banking, instead of saying “I’m all set” I’ll say, “Tell me more.”

What do you think?

Thought for the week:

“To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” — Richard Branson


What do you think? I welcome your comments! Dave Gardner

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Liz Alexander · December 7, 2015 at 10:36 am

You sure you weren’t speaking with a robot, Dave? Although I suspect this is a human in robotic mode! With the advent of automation–and improvements in AI that allow for machine-human interactions that are barely discernible from human-human responses–I can see experiences like this only getting worse.

And the sad thing of all? It’s responses like that — which sound so scripted and uncompassionate or caring — that make jobs ripe for automation.

I hope companies think more deeply about the relationships they want to have with their customers and clients….and do what they can to tick people off in this machine-like way. Otherwise, we’ll be taking our business to those who deal with us, people-on-people, right?

Dave Gardner · December 7, 2015 at 11:14 am

Hello, Liz…it wasn’t a robot but sure could have been!

All the best…Dave

Dan · December 14, 2015 at 6:48 am


Well said and on point! Customer service has fallen to the way side as profits and expense reduction drives business service levels. The ability to support the bottom line can’t always be at the expense of the end customer. Email, voice mail and portals while very productive for all of us can’t be the only way a company does business. If consumers are the reason a company is in business then why do they alienate them with stupidity like you have encountered??

Thanks for bringing this up in your weekly blog. At the very least we have you, who has always been an advocate for customer service.

    Dave Gardner · December 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Thanks, Dan. I know you know what great customer service is as you deliver it every day in your business!

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