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The bank suspended my credit card and the crap that followed resulted in changing my insurer

I recently found myself in a world of pain when my bank suspended my credit card due to a suspected fraudulent transaction.

The fact that this wasn’t communicated to me promptly was one thing, but this one event set off a domino effect of inconvenience, frustration, and in several cases plain anger as I was forced to deal with all the companies that I held regular payments connected to that credit card, attempting to restore them and then make back payments where they existed.

The experience with one of them was so bad I looked for alternatives and ended up canceling their policy that I had in place for over 10 years.

The Cascade of Inconveniences

 

The first wave of the administration nightmare came when the first of my automated credit card payments defaulted. These were not frivolous personal expenditures but critical regular payments - utilities, subscriptions, and insurance premiums. I acted quickly but if I didn’t, each default could potentially disrupt a service as well as add a blemish to my otherwise immaculate credit history through no fault of my own. The immediate impact was a flurry of notifications from creditors all attempting to get their situation fixed. 

The collections people, while generally very sympathetic, were often hamstrung in their ab

The Collections Quagmire

 

Attempting to resolve these issues plunged me into the world of collections departments. The whole process was plagued by long hold times and in one case a seemingly endless loop of transfers from one department to another. The collections people, while generally very sympathetic, were often hamstrung in their ability to help by inflexible policies and systems, many acknowledged that little had changed over the years. 

 

Options to pay there and then were limited and given that the whole process was triggered by a fraudulent transaction on my credit card, I was never going to hand over my other card details to a caller who had rung me, telling me that I owed them money who then asks me to verify who I was by supplying my full name, date of birth and my current address to which the answer was no. I get hit with email spam, attempts to steal my identity and any number of other phishing attempts every other day so that was never going to happen.

 

Oh, we are sorry you feel like that. You now have two choices, you can ring us back on 1300 XXX (and wait for a few hours to get through) or go to our website and download a new direct debit form, fill it out, sign it, scan it, and send it back by email or snail mail. In fairness, that was one experience, the others ranged from an online form that I completed to the best example which was an online form that was prepopulated with my details, picked up as soon as I logged in.

Customer Experience or lack thereof - The Irony for the Service Provider!

 

Now that the whole mess is over, it’s hard not to look back at what happened and be amazed at the outcomes. 

 

1. I changed my insurer

 

The effort and complexity of resolving the late payments situation and putting a new debit facility in place made me so frustrated in one case that I got a competitive quote, canceled my policy, and went to the competitor. I was a customer for 10 years and had always received great service up until that point. 

Multiple payment options

 

I am now doing the same thing for my other policies. I am looking to consolidate them into fewer providers but they MUST have multiple payment options. 

Lessons Learned and the Way Forward

 

This experience has been an eye-opener in many ways. Firstly, it underscores the need for financial institutions to balance security with customer convenience. While protecting customers from fraud is non-negotiable, banks and service providers must also ensure that their security measures do not inadvertently penalise innocent customers.

 

There is also a glaring need for better communication. If I had received a prompt notification about the suspicious activity and a temporary hold on my card, I could have taken proactive steps to manage my payments and avoid defaults. Additionally, the bank could have provided clear instructions on how to quickly verify transactions and restore the card's functionality.

 

From a customer service perspective, there's much room for improvement. The collections and customer service teams need to be empowered to offer more flexible solutions. For instance, temporarily increasing the limit on an alternate card or fast-tracking the issuance of a new card could have mitigated the situation considerably. For the service provider, allowing me to pay how I want, when I want, on the channel I want would help. We live in a digital world. It can't be that hard.

Conclusion: Finding the Middle Ground

In conclusion, while I appreciate my bank's efforts to protect my financial assets, this experience has highlighted the significant impact of such actions on a customer's life. 


As for customers, it's a wake-up call to diversify payment methods and not rely solely on a single card or account. It’s also a reminder to regularly review and update contact information to ensure timely alerts.


In a digital age where financial transactions are a keystroke away, the need for robust yet customer-friendly security measures has never been greater. The challenge for banks is to evolve their strategies to be as sophisticated in customer care as they are in fraud prevention. The same goes for the service provider. Only then can they truly claim to have their customers’ best interests at heart.

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