Home / Digital Bank / Are you a robot?

Are you a robot?

With one of my financial providers I am an uber, super, mega, gold, wipe-my-ass, top tier client. They usually offer me champagne and free peanuts, and will go the extra mile to deal with me. Very nice (as Borat would say it).

Thing is, I haven’t needed to call them for a year – their app is so good, I haven’t had to – but we decided to go on holiday and, as I hadn’t used their credit card for a year, thought I’d ring them to let them know a humongous transaction was about to hit the card. It is a card I hadn’t used for a year, as it’s my travel card and I haven’t been anywhere. I didn’t need to call them but, y’know, thought a courtesy call would be a good idea as they might block a humongous payment on a card that hadn’t been used for a year.

Hello sir and all that, and oh yes, thanks for letting us know.

Okey-dokey, all good.

About to hang up, the customer service representative said that there was one more thing they needed to check before ending the call.

Okey-dokey, all good.

We need to put you through to the fraud department. They’ve been trying to contact you.

Okey-dokey, all good.

I get through to the fraud department.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Ah hello, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Hello Ms. Fraud lady.

Financial firm’s fraud person: We’ve been trying to contact you, Mr. Skinner.

Me: OK, Ms. Fraud Lady

Financial firm’s fraud person: Before I can tell you what about, can you give me the reference number we sent you in relation to this case.

Me: I don’t have a reference number.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Oh. You should have received one by email or post.

Me: When did you send it?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I can’t tell you.

Me: I didn’t get it.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Then I cannot talk to you.

Me: OK.

Financial firm’s fraud person: But, in the meantime, your card is blocked.

Me: What?

Financial firm’s fraud person: Your card is blocked.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: Because we spotted some suspicious activity on your account.

Me: When?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I can’t tell you.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: Because I need that reference number.

Me: But you didn’t send me one. I never got it.

Financial firm’s fraud person: We will send you a new one.

Me: Can I use my card now, though?

Financial firm’s fraud person: No, your card is blocked.

Me: But why can’t you verify me some other way?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our compliance rules, Mr. Skinner.

Me: I work in the industry. I know banks have rules and procedures, but I’m not aware of this one.

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our rule, sir.

Me: But look, I can give you other verification information.

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t need it.

Me: How about I tell you my father’s middle name, my mother’s maiden name, my grandmother’s blood type and my inside leg measurement?

Financial firm’s fraud person: No, that’s not our procedure.

Me: I could spit down the phone and send you some DNA?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I would rather you didn’t, Mr. Skinner.

Me: You’re calling me Mr. Skinner, so you know it’s me.

Financial firm’s fraud person: I’m being polite. I need the reference number.

Me: But you never sent it to me.

Financial firm’s fraud person: We will send you a new one.

Me: When?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I cannot tell you.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our compliance rules, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Are you a robot?

Financial firm’s fraud person: No.

Me: You sound like a robot.

Financial firm’s fraud person: That’s quite offensive, sir.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t like you calling me a robot.

Me: But you sound like one.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Well, I’m not.

Me: So, when will I get a reference number?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I cannot tell you.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our compliance rules, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Are you a robot?

This went round and round for a while and eventually meant that I had to hang up. Then I had a bright idea! I’ll call back and see if I get another person to talk with who can help. I call the bank back and pass through the usual onerous security checks, but they are there to help, aren’t they?

The customer service person picks up and I explain I have a fraud issue on the card and want to clear it. They tell me they’ll put me through.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Hello, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Hello, I’m trying to clear a fraud on my card.

Financial firm’s fraud person: I know, we just spoke.

Me: Ah, don’t tell me it’s you again.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Yes (exasperated).

Me: Can you help me clear the fraud on my card and unblock it.

Financial firm’s fraud person: As I told you, not without the reference number.

Me: When will I get the reference number?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t know.

Me: How will I get the reference number?

Financial firm’s fraud person: As I told you, by post or email.

Me: Post? Who uses post?

Financial firm’s fraud person: We do.

Me: When did you last write a letter to someone?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t.

Me: So, why does your bank send letters?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our procedures, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Oh, that thing again. Why wasn’t I alerted about any of this in your app?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t know.

Me: How come the app didn’t tell me there was a fraud and block on my card?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I don’t know.

Me: Why can’t I get the reference number to talk to you in the app?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s not set up that way, sir.

Me: But I like your app. I haven’t had to call you for a year because your app works?

Financial firm’s fraud person: Great!

Me: So, can I get this reference number in the app?

Financial firm’s fraud person: No.

Me: But why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s just not set up that way, sir, as I said.

Me: So, when will I get a reference number?

Financial firm’s fraud person: I cannot tell you.

Me: Why?

Financial firm’s fraud person: Because you don’t have the reference number

Me: This is really stupid.

Financial firm’s fraud person: It’s our compliance rules, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Exactly.

Financial firm’s fraud person: Can I help you with anything else, Mr. Skinner.

Me: Are you sure you’re not a robot?

Eventually, I had to hang up that call without my card cleared for the big holiday transaction. I’m a lucky guy – I have other cards, could still book the holiday – but was really disgruntled with the service. The company who used to wipe-my-ass were playing tough and wouldn’t budge. I could hear the upset in the fraud person’s dialogue, especially when I called her a robot, but she is. She cannot answer anything. Zero flexibility and zero ability to verify any other way than with a reference number the customer does not have and never received (I’ve checked).

It’s our compliance rules, Mr. Skinner.

Quoting internal rules, procedures and processes are the most frustrating things a financial firm can ever say, because it’s all about their internal rules, procedures and processes, and nothing to do with the customer experience. In addition, telling people in the direct customer contact that they cannot have any flexibility must be just as frustrating for the service people as they might as well be just a robot.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

Check Also

The Finanser’s Week: 7th June 2021- 13th June 2021

This week’s main blogs include: Should banks have more technologists than Microsoft? I saw an …