I hate writing these kinds of posts. But I’m pulling my hair out and I simply can’t believe that companies in this day and age are so manifestly clueless about the impact of customer service on brand.
I’m a customer of Countrywide, who holds my home mortgage. A few months ago, Countrywide had a major security breach, in which whatever security protocols they follow to protect private customer data allowed an employee to make off with the social security numbers, names and financial data of many thousands of customers, including myself. The employee turned around and sold that data to a third party, setting up a nightmare scenario of identity theft for Countrywide’s customers.
Following California law, Countrywide disclosed the security breach and provided me with access to credit-monitoring services through Experian. Not an ideal situation, but at least the law’s got consumers covered and is working as expected. Except, when I go to Experian to sign up for the credit-monitoring services, after filling out a tedious application online that kept having to reload for some unknown reason, I get a sweet message saying “We’re Sorry… We are currently unable to process your request. If you need assistance please email us at email@example.com. Thank you- we appreciate your business!”
Really? If you appreciated my business, you’d provide a direct phone number to someone who could tell me why you can’t process my request. Oh well. So I call Countrywide’s customer service line, the one printed on the notification in which they told me Countrywide had lost my private financial data to a thief. After going through the phone tree, I get a Countrywide service rep who provides me with a phone number to call at Experian to get help. Great!
So. I call the Experian hotline. Five minutes of phone tree crap. Special offer! Press a number! Press another number! Wait while we transfer you! You know, you could do this faster on our website! Someone will be with you soon! Press a number! Press another number! Now hold! Five minutes of hold to the tune of some generic acoustic guitar riff in an endless 3-bar loop. Thank you for holding, someone will be with you soon! Did you know you could do this faster on our website?! More crappy acoustic guitar, and then the master stroke. Thank you for holding, no one is available to assist you now, please call back later! Click.
Now I’m really happy. And when I call Countrywide, they make me even happier. I get a helpful customer service rep who tells me, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do to help you.” Really? Is that the best you can do after you lost the financial data of thousands of customers? You throw it in the lap of Experian, and when they drop the ball, you just throw up your arms and say, “Oh Well!” Except, I didn’t really want to hear that message. So I asked the service rep for her supervisor, and now it gets fun. “My supervisor can’t help you.” I had to ask: is this really customer service? I didn’t ask whether you thought your supervisor could help me, I asked to speak to your supervisor. Again: “My supervisor can’t help you.” And this was Countrywide’s position, putting up stone walls against the customers whose financial data was stolen and sold by their own employee.
What did I expect, you might ask? How about this, considering I’m a customer whose financial data you lost, considering I’m one of the tax payers bailing out your industry and saving your job: “I know that credit monitoring is really important in this situation, and I’m sorry our vendor is not fulfilling their obligation. Let me see if I can find out who is managing that business relationship and see if they know what’s going on.” Or, “Let me see if I can get someone from Experian on the line to help.” Or, “Let me get my supervisor.” My helpful suggestions were not well received by the customer rep, but she did finally relent and put me on hold for another 5 minutes to wait to speak to her supervisor. To her credit, the supervisor was more reasonable, but did nothing more than call the same Experian hotline to go through the same dead end process with me on the line.
I’m still waiting to get this resolved to find out what parting gifts I’ve received on my credit report from the Countrywide theft.
Hello! Countrywide. Anyone home? Why should a post like this ever need to be written?