What do you do when your bank’s fraud management system targets you the customer, as a fraudster? After six months attempting and failing to get any sense out of anybody, you take your business elsewhere. If it’s happening a bank, can the same happen in a telco?
I’m sure my story is not unique but maybe, just maybe, making it public might knock some sense into an industry that after bloating itself into an almost ‘Mr Creosote state’, has now become so paranoid that even its own legitimate customers are being targeted by systems that appear to be totally out of control.
Perhaps a little background will illustrate how pathetic my bank has become to deal with. I travel a lot, a real lot, and find myself using ATMs all around the world to get quick cash, if I need it. I saw an ad for Lloyds International Banking some time back and the service being offered sounding perfect for my requirements. As I already had a mortgage with Lloyds TSB the process was quite straightforward and painless.
Once the account was set up I received Visa Debit/ATM cards for my wife and myself. For the first few months everything seemed to working fine but suddenly cash withdrawals at ATMs were blocked and the message, ‘refer to Issuing bank’ appeared on the screens. As I was in France, I duly called Lloyds International Bank customer care number in the UK and, after the usual round of button pressings and being put on hold, I was directed to an operator who told me the fraud protection system had detected an anomaly (because I was not in my home country presumably) and it would be cleared for use immediately.
It was, but when my wife went to use hers at a store POS, and hers was refused. Another call to Lloyds got that cleared as well. That was the start of a chain of events that literally defies logic. Despite calling and explaining that I travel constantly, my ATM transactions were rejected in six other countries over the next ten weeks and every time I had to call the UK, at my expense, to have it cleared. When I protested at having to go through so many levels to get to the fraud team I was given a direct number that, when I called, was told that they could not handle my call unless it went through International banking channels for security checks.
I’m sure that you are getting the gist of my story by now, right? Well, not quite, the best is yet to come. On returning to our home country and home town, the one listed in all the banks systems, we were both rejected by the local ATMs! You would think that, at the very least, we would be safe to use the infernal card there, wouldn’t you.
So, a number of calls to the bank again to try and have our cards exempted by the fraud system’s overbearing control, we were assured the matter would be looked into and someone from the bank would call. That was six weeks ago and only today did my wife have the nerve to use her card at our local ATM. You guessed it – rejected again.
Tired of calling and wasting what must now be at least US$50 in calls I resorted to writing, using the bank’s online secure email system, but received no response. Twitter was my last resort and was stunned to get a response within two minutes – asking if I had spoken to the International Team. Aaaarggghhhh! Because @AskLloydsTSB does not follow me, my turgid response went to everyone in the Twitterverse. Needless to say, the lines have gone dead and I am now in the process of closing all my accounts with Lloyds. If an organization cannot take control of its fraud management system what does that say about the rest of its operation?
The lesson here is clear. Yes, we all need protection from fraudsters but where do you draw the line, especially when the customer was so clear in relaying his experiences. Are we, in the telecoms industry, as pathetic as this in managing risk and customer satisfaction or is this a unique banking industry problem? If it is isolated to Lloyds TSB, you would have to think that its business is in jeopardy, not from fraudsters, but from customers leaving in droves!