I avoid writing about my travails as a consumer since all of us have our own stories to tell, and the real story is about the decline in customer service (despite all of the fancy computer dashboard indicators that say otherwise).
But sometimes I can’t resist, mostly because I can’t decide if I’m more shocked or just pissed off.
I have banked at Chase for since it bought Bank One in 2004 (and I’d been a customer with Bank One since it bought First Chicago in 1998). I have an array accounts there, including my mortgage, so when I got a pitch on the masthead of my account page for refinancing a few weeks ago, I thought my longstanding relationship with the bank might make an otherwise painful process easier.
First off, I had to fill in a zillion pages of info as if I were a perfect stranger. It was weird because the the form wasn’t populated with any of the data it already possessed. I dutifully told the bank what it already knew and then hit “submit.”
What followed was, well, nothing, until a few days later I got a call at 7pm on a weeknight from someone who sounded like she was outdoors calling from a cellphone.
“I’d like to schedule your conversation with a mortgage banker,” she said.
“Right now?” I asked, with dinner cooking on the stovetop.
“Yes, or another time,” she replied.
At this point, I got a little suspicious: Her tone and the time of her call were just kinda weird, and I hadn’t called her, so maybe it wasn’t legit.
“No, I’d be happy to call and schedule a chat during business hours tomorrow,” I told her, and she gave me a number.
The next day, I called it and a recording told me how to navigate through the IVR until a live person named “Jason” picked up. He cited an MLS number and then said the call would be recorded, and proceeded to ask me for my name and address, followed by the last four digits of my Social Security number.
Again, I got a little suspicious. After all, I’d called a damn number that some stranger had given to me, and why wasn’t Jason giving ME some information that would authenticate HIS identity.
“I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable with this, I’m going to hang up,” I said.
“Oh, OK,” he replied, like he’d gotten that reaction before.
I went to the Chase website and tried to find the number I’d called. It didn’t appear anywhere. I searched the web. Nothing. I checked my “secure” mailbox on my Chase account and found no mention of my application or request for a telephone conversation.
Phew. I’d just avoided doing something really stupid. Total silence from Chase over the next few days confirmed my conclusion that I’d almost been scammed.
Then, just for chuckles, I went to check my Chase mortgage application — separate from my account login, so an unnecessary extra step — and noticed that my application has been assigned to somebody named “Jason.”
Oops. He was legit.
I used the messaging function on the page (which Chase had never used to communicate with me) to write to Jason and apologized for freaking out. He replied a few days later and said he’d told me his MLS number.
“OK,” I wrote back, “but the entire process felt kind of half-assed and I got scared, but let’s not look backwards and instead reschedule a chat,” or something close to that.
A few more days passed with no reply.
I wrote to Jason again, and said something like “OK, you don’t want my business. Let’s drop this,” to which he replied somewhat more quickly, “OK.”
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, right?
Chase’s half-assed, amateur, customer-hostile process announced to me that Chase didn’t want me to refinance my mortgage, and that it was unable or unwilling to treat me any differently than it would an utter stranger with whom it didn’t want to do any business whatsoever.
I was mistaken to think that I had a relationship with the bank.
But I am sure that it won’t have any of my accounts by the end of the year.