A couple of weeks ago, I podcasted my personal caught-on-tape customer service experience with Bank of America where the customer service representative (CSR) or someone she talked to made up a story to explain why the non-800 (toll-free) phone number on the back of it's ATM cards wasn't working. It's imperative for that number to work if you're a Bank of America customer and you're oversees and the card isn't working for some reason. If that number is disconnected (which it was), and you couldn't get to your money while you're out of North America, the results could be disastrous. Even worse, I first reported the problem to Bank of America at the end of May 2006 and the company never did anything about it. In that caught-on-tape post, it seemed to be that BofA had to make one of two choices. Either re-issue new cards to every cardholder with a new, working phone number on it, or reclaim the phone number and "turn it back on." According to a letter that I received via Fedex over the weekend, BofA took the second option. Here, in part, is what the letter said:
Dear Mr. Berlind:
Executive Customer Relations was asked to investigate and respond to questions you posed during a recent call to Bank of America's Customer Service. While I regret the circumstances that prompted you to contact us, I am pleased that your concerns were brought to my attention.
It is my understanding that you had a negative experience regarding using a number provided on the back of your ATM/Debit card. After investigating the international service number, 315-724-4022, it was determined that this number was temporarily out of service. I am pleased to inform you that it has been restored.......
....The circumstances that you experienced clearly do not reflect the level of service that we take pride in delivering, and for that I apologize. Although I cannot reverse this event, I can assure you that this situation has been thoroughly reviewed and discussed.....
Renee E. Holmes
Executive Customer Relations
While I found it objectionable that BofA did nothing the first time I called and it took something a bit more publicly embarrassing to effect a change, it's good to see BoA apologizing, accepting accountability, and remedying the problem (I tested the number and it works). However, I still think the company should reconsider the menu in its interactive voice response system. The phone number appears on the back of an ATM card so it stands to reason that someone might use that number when they're having difficulty with an ATM machine. One of the top menu choices in the IVR system should have to do with getting help with a malfunctioning ATM card.
Finally, in that last blog, I was surprised to learn that even though I have my outbound caller ID blocked, BofA's systems were still able to capture my caller ID when I called the toll-free number. Thanks to a lot of ZDNet readers, I learned that when another company is footing the bill for the phone call (as is the case with a toll-free number), one of the the things they get is your phone number. This to me is even more of a reason to seek out and use alternative toll-based numbers versus toll-free numbers. I often wondered how some telemarketers were getting my unlisted phone numbers. Now I know. I was making the mistake of calling toll-free numbers which in turn was unblocking my normally blocked caller ID.