Saturday, June 21, 2008

Recession or just Paranoid Corporations?

I tried to buy replacement razor blades for my Gillette razor today but Rite Aid would not let me. They have locked the razor blades to the shelves. The tiny little tag told me to ask for service but the pharmacist would not come out from behind her glass walls and the cashier has no idea what I was asking about. So I went to a different retailer but strangely enough encountered the same situation. My razor blades are locked to the display case and the poorly-trained clerks have no idea how to provide actual customer service.

I guess I'll have to grow a beard instead.

Proctor & Gamble will blame the slow sales of their Gillette products on the recession no doubt.

New York City 18662

A few weeks ago I explained how Visa and Citigroup refused to allow me to use my credit card to buy a new inkjet printer. They even called my home phone to tell me I was using my own credit card fraudulently. When I called Citigroup to correct this situation they refused to speak to me. They said my credit card was being handled by their Fraud department. When I called the Fraud desk, as directed, they told me they could not help me, I needed to know some mysterious password which I have never placed on the account, to my knowledge. No, the PIN code or my web site password was not good enough. I had to know some special password which I never even created in the first place. My Social Security number, birthday, home address, nor any other personal information would suffice. They promptly hung up on me because I did not know some secret password that I have never known.

Another major credit card firm that never declines my purchases did let me buy the inkjet printer.

Visa did let me buy a tank of gasoline on the card they declared to be a "Fraud," the very next day. Please understand I was not even close to my credit limit on any credit card then or ever. In fact, I stopped using that Visa card after that last tank of gas, I will pay it off like I always do each month and use a different firm's card instead from now on.

For years my insurance company, one of the largest, has not let me use their web site for any purpose whatsoever. Their site is too secure against Internet hackers to allow actual customers to use it. I am directed to call their 800 number and wait on hold for 30 or 40 minutes to speak to a Texan about my policies. I do not wait on hold that long for any business so I did not buy a new policy the other day from them. An actual human insurance agent, from another company in my home town, got the policy business instead.

My old bank refused to let me link my bank account to a very large brokerage. They even told me they did not trust that stock broker. That broker has over 350 offices across the United States. That same bank refused to open a new account for my growing business. Fifteen years of handling my finances with no overdrafts, no missed payments and weekly electronic deposits was insufficient. My flawless credit report was worthless to them as well. My old financial institution was the largest credit union in the world. Still, they are my old banker now, my new banker set up the new accounts in 30 minutes, including the link to the same stock broker.

Some firms just refuse to grow and learn about their customers.

I am sure the executives at these organizations are blaming the slowdown in business on the economy, the recession, and market turmoil. The plain and simple fact is that so many businesses are locked down so tight to prevent "fraud" that their regular customers are forced to take their business to other "friendlier" places. I realize the business executives at Citigroup, Visa, Rite Aid, my old bank, and my insurance company do not care about the business they lost this month. They will still get their 6 or 7-figure salaries no matter how many real potential customers they turned away and accused of being "frauds" or "hackers."

There are two important points those corporations are missing:

#1 When you insult a legitimate customer that customer remembers the insult.

#2 A customer that had a negative experience tends to tell their friends, family, and maybe even a larger audience, for example, people on the Internet.

Some day soon there may not even be enough profits to pay those 7-figure salaries of executives that lock down their products so securely that actual customers cannot make a purchase. I strongly suspect I am not the only customer turned away by these new policies.

No doubt they will also blame the loss of their jobs on the economy.


Washington Post article

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