I was a happy Hibernia customer for many years. I got used to their online banking system and, even though other banks might have better systems, I had a strong inclination to stay with Hibernia. Why? I didn’t know other banking systems and I wasn’t about to make my life harder by moving to a new world that was unfamiliar.
Recently CapitalOne bought Hibernia. I had some warning (even more than I had with Katrina) and so I was a little nervous but I figured I’d just let the drama unfold. The other day someone pulled the swtich at HQ and redirected all online banking at Hibernia‘s site over to the new CapitalOne site. It’s hard to create a visceral sense of what this means, but here’s my metaphor: it’s like walking down the street to a familiar location. You start out with a jaunty step, your hands in your pocket and music in your earphones. Halfway there some guy careens out of an alley, shoves you in a completely different direction and says, ‘not that way pal. Over there!’ Next thing you know you’re somewhere else that is supposed to be like the place you were going, but it isn’t that place.
That’s how I felt as I found myself suddenly staring at a new login screen. I started poking around and, to my surprise, I found the new site visually pleasing and easy to navigate. Not so bad, I thought to myself. Flash forward to the next time I bop out and cyberwalk over to the online bank. I login, and pause to enjoy the nice new screen. Enough of the jauntiness; it’s time for some Real Banking. "Today," I say to myself with great inner-certaintly, "we shall add a new payee to the list of the recipients-of-our-hard-earned dough." Click click click with the easy to navigate interface, and then the last one that says ‘Add Payee?" Yes sireee, that’s me. Pause for a full-fledged Ceremonial Click (followed by the hand pulling away in a finger flourish). And? And? What? The guy in the alley pops out and shoves me again. Hard!
"What the Hell?" I blurt back.
This unshaven Guido has a message for me and he pushes in right into my squint-eyed face. I read the error message (click on picture above). The ‘Add Payee’ function is temporarily down. Well, I think, maybe it’s a temporary thing (some problem with the new computer integration of Hibernia customers); I’ll try again later. I wait a couple of days. So just now I pulled out my laptop and tried again. And? Hmmmmm, same message.
"Clearly this is going to be a problem we’ll have to call-in to resolve," I say to myself (and that other person in my head) in my most optimistic inner cheerleader voice. Silently I’m humming as I call the handy number listed in the error message. Of course, I have to play the popular "Select All The Right Numbers" game. (the Jeopardy tune is playing as I do this). When I get to the last part of the game (where dollar values are doubled) a very important corporate message is played for me: "I’m sorry our office is called, please call back during regular business hours."[Sound effect: Wah, wah wah]. I’m sorry, but thank you for playing Online Banking at CapitalOne.
As I leave the well-designed site I pause to ruminate on my bittersweet experience. I thought the whole point of online banking was that you could do it pretty much anytime? Why do companies use technology to cut their costs (thank you for using our computers and not tying up our expensive brick-and-mortar resources), but not to improve customer service? Yeah, I’ll call back during ‘regular business hours’ because I don’t have any freakin’ choice! However, before I sulk away, can I please, most kind sir, ask a humble question: would it have been possible to add a section to the recording telling me what your ‘regular business hours’ are?
No, I guess not. That would be a tremendous inconvenience to you. God knows I don’t want to hassle CapitalOne. After all, they coined the ‘no hassle’ slogan. But, for some reason I thought they were talking about the customer not having to put up with hassles.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a bit. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a hassle to move my bank account to another bank now. After all, I’m going to have to learn a new online banking system anyway. Maybe there’s one out there that I’d actually enjoy using, one with minimal hassles and an easy to use interface.