Bank of America Support Chat FAIL

It’s actually quite fun to torture them.

This chat transcript says it all.

Current Transcript of the Chat Session
In this window hotkeys have been activated to allow for quick navigation between the chat transcript and the chat text edit areas. Alt + Arrow Up will set focus on the last text message in the chat transcript and Alt + Arrow Down will set focus on the chat text edit. An audible alert will be played when a chat agent has posted a new response.

Welcome to an online chat session at Bank of America. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Bank of America Online Banking Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. Your current wait time is approximately 0 minutes. Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Bank of America Online Banking Specialist.

Alfredo: Hello! Thank you for being a valued Bank of America customer! My name is Alfredo. I will be assisting you with your personal accounts today.  

You: Your Web site times out too quickly, requiring me to log in again and again. This is a huge waste of time and very frustrating. How can I adjust the timeout interval?

Alfredo: I certainly understand your concern regarding the Web Site.
Alfredo: May I have your full name and last four digits of the account?

You: It’s not one account. It’s all accounts. And I already entered my full name.

Alfredo: Please provide me the last four digits of one of your account and your full name?

You: I really wish they’d let you people think for yourselves and not read off a script.
You: #### Maria Langer

Alfredo: Thank you, Maria.
Alfredo: Maria, We need this information to verify your account information, It is for the security of your account.
Alfredo: To increase the timeout level I request you to please contact directly to our Online banking department.

You: The question I’m asking has nothing to do with my account. It’s your Web site.

Alfredo: They will be able to do this for you.

You: So you can’t help me.

Alfredo: Yes, I understand you.

You: So you wasted my time, made me provide information you didn’t need.

Alfredo: I really wish I could resolve this for you via chat, however, I really apologize, I do not have necessary tools to do that.

You: Why did you ask for information you didn’t need? You had my question. You could tell immediate that you couldn’t help me.

Alfredo: I request you to call at the number they will assist you with this.

You: Why did you continue a conversation that would go nowhere?
You: And what number? You didn’t provide one.

Alfredo: You can call them at 1.800.933.6262. We are available from 7 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Eastern Time.
Alfredo: “Please be assured that we know your time is valuable. We would not direct you to contact us by telephone unless it were absolutely necessary. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

You: Why is it that every time your Web site offers to help with a chat, no help is provided?

Alfredo: ”

You: Nice copy and paste, “Alfredo.”

Alfredo: I really wish that I can resolve this for you, However their is a separate department for this.

You: How long do you expect me to be on hold when I call that number?
You: How many buttons will I need to push?
You: Or will I need to talk to a machine and hope it understands me?

Alfredo: I regret but this is not copy and paste I actually wish I can help you with this.

You: Why is it that Bank of America continues to fail so utterly with Customer Service?

Alfredo: You will get an option to talk with a live person.

You: Is your name really Alfredo?

Alfredo: Yes, My name is Alfredo.

You: Where are you based? India?

Alfredo: I wish I could resolve it for you!
Alfredo: Yes, I am in India.

You: Exactly what I thought. This transcript will make good reading on my blog. Anything else you’d like to add?

Alfredo: I really apologize that I was not able to assist you, I hope you understand that.
Alfredo: I wish your issue would be resolved as soon as possible!

You: What I don’t understand is why BofA has a chat support feature that NEVER seems able to provide any assistance.
You: It’s a complete waste of customer time.
You: Yet so is calling them. I know I’ll be on hold for at least 15-20 minutes AFTER entering all kinds of numbers into my phone.
You: Then they’ll just ask me for the same information — like you did.
You: My time isn’t valuable to the bank.

Alfredo: I really apologies that I am not able to assist you this time but it is not like this every time.
Alfredo: Please be assured that we know your time is valuable.
Alfredo: They will be able to resolve this for you.

You: It’s cheaper to hire overseas “support” personnel in India than to employ Americans who can answer questions without reading a script.
You: Are you happy that you’ve taken away a job from an American?
You: That unemployment here is high because people like you have our jobs?
You: And you can’t even do them very well?

Alfredo: I really apologies if you think so.

You: I really think you should let your supervisor read the transcript for this chat.
You: Maybe someone will understand the frustration of BofA customers in America.
You: Maybe someone will get the idea that we don’t want to participate in time-wasting chats when all we need is someone to pick up the freaking phone and talk to us.

Alfredo: I will provide this chat transcript to my supervisor.

You: I’ll be posting this transcript on my blog. My readers will love it.
You: Anything else you want to say?

Alfredo: I request you to call at the number and they will be able to resolve the issue for you.

You: Sure, I’ll do that.

Alfredo: i apologize that you are not satisfied with our service.
Alfredo: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you by this.

You: It’s not your fault. You’re just doing one of our jobs. We could do it better.

Alfredo: I hope you understand that it is not me to do so.
Alfredo: I regret I was not able to resolve the issue for you.

You: Well, I’ve wasted enough time with you. Now I’ll waste some on the phone. You’re free to go.

When it became apparent that he would never end the chat, I did.

I need to be clear about something here: I have no problem with Indian people. I do, however, have a problem with companies like Bank of America sending support jobs overseas to places like India just to save money. (I also have a problem with pop-up chat support offers that waste time, but we won’t go there.) This kind of policy has fed our unemployment problem.

My sister, who was in banking at CitiGroup, was a victim of this twice in the span of three years when her job was sent to India. The first time, CitiGroup found another job for her; the second time, they didn’t and she was unemployed for six months. She’s underemployed now after losing another banking job to the financial crisis two years ago.

If all the jobs we sent to India and Pakistan and god knows where else were to come back to the United States, we would have no unemployment problem and no financial crisis. We’d have no deficit, either, because all these people would be earning money, spending money, and paying taxes.

Instead, we have a crisis fed, in part, by big business maximizing profits by sending American jobs overseas.

What’s even worse, however, is the quality of the work done by these people. They often have little understanding of our language and rely on computer scripts to answer questions. The above transcript makes this very clear. My initial question could have been answered in seconds by someone familiar with the language and not required to follow a script. (I almost always get better customer service on the phone when the customer service representative is US-based. I say almost because sometimes even the Americans in the job aren’t very good; it depends on how strictly they’re required to follow a script.)

So, as a result of practices like Bank of America’s we get inferior customer service and fewer jobs for Americans.

Who wins?

18 thoughts on “Bank of America Support Chat FAIL

  1. And when we do manage to get someone in customer service right here in the USA, no matter which big company it is, the reason they get nasty with us now if we refuse to hang up before they’ve answered our question or actually helped us is that they are being timed. If they spend too much time on one customer too often, depending on which company it is, they either lose their jobs or their pay is docked! That is why they interrupt us before we’ve finished telling them what we need, why they keep repeating the script, and why they get snotty when we won’t just accept the first thing they tell us and hang up.

  2. From a macro-perspective that offers a wrap of a host of disconcerting changes which sail under the flag of “progress”, we have changed from a society that exhibits economic behavior into an economy that exhibits (traces of) social behavior. That’s about it.

    We tend to think of ourselves as the ‘species-supreme” residing at the apex of the food pyramid. That is an illusion. There is another species, a superior one, the institutional species, and we merely serve as the resource to support that species and to enable it to grow and multiply, and it is rather good at it. It IS a new species that has its own culture, its own values, its own goals, all of which are foreign to us, and anything that reflects human values falls on deaf ears. And the flag that members of that species wave looks very much like a spread sheet. So hush, Maria – you are fulfilling a noble purpose – you are supporting a superior species!! Be proud of it!

  3. Hi Maria, If you are a fan of Clark Howard, the consumer guru, he urges us to choose a smaller local bank or credit union. He is on HLN network with a tv show, and his website has all the show notes. As soon as my checking is not free anymore with another big bank, Im moving. Im not sure but he doesnt have any kind words for BofA. Here is the link for all of his banking stories,
    http://www.clarkhoward.com/categories/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/banks-banking/

    • I’m not familiar with Clark Howard; I don’t watch much TV.

      No one has kind words for BofA. Their customer service sucks.

      Unfortunately, my mortgage, home equity loan, helicopter loan, two credit cards, and about six bank accounts are there. Their online banking works well. Transferring money between accounts is quick and easy using the Web. Their fees are reasonable and easily avoidable when you have as many accounts as I do. All my banking is free and my loan rates are remarkably low.

      I’m not shopping for a new bank and definitely not interested in moving my accounts anytime soon. Too much work, too much expense. I think I’m more interested in pointing out how customer service suffers when jobs are sent overseas.

      But knowing what I know today about BofA, if I had to start over with new bank accounts tomorrow, I wouldn’t use them.

  4. Sorry, but I think Alfredo is just doing his job to make a living, like most employees. Even if BofA is to blame regarding its employment, training and customer service policies and guidelines, complaining to Alfredo does not help. Taking it out on Alfredo does not help. Poor him. It is better to try to be more understanding and make complaints in a proper way, e.g. expressing your views and anger in your blog is one of the proper ways.

    • Leo: Did you read the WHOLE transcript?

      I don’t think expressing my views and anger is the best way. I think getting my views and anger in front of BofA as publicly as possible is. That’s why I went off on poor “Alfredo” and suggested he show the transcript to his supervisor. That’s why I reproduced it on my blog. But if I weren’t so lazy, I’d also find other ways to publicize it and bring it to the attention of BofA.

      ATTENTION AMERICANS: In our greed for ever higher paychecks and returns on our investments, corporations are cutting costs by sending OUR jobs overseas. Our government has been making it easy for them to do this for years. The result: fewer jobs for Americans, higher unemployment in the United States, and crappy customer service from script-reading, copy-and-paste clerks in India. Does anyone see anything GOOD about this?

  5. Thanks for your explanation. Maybe even if BofA gives the jobs to Americans instead of Indians, if they just provide the same training and same script to Americans, the transcript will turn out to be much the same (except the part on job transfer of course). I mean, if they are not trained properly and have no idea of how your problem can be solved, they will still send you away, give you another phone number for follow-up and ask you to “press 1, press 2, wait”, etc. Sorry if my guess may turn out wrong as I don’t live in the USA.

    As you mentioned, publicizing your views and anger in other ways will be more effective. I just think taking it out on Alfredo is not practical. I believe it’s quite unlikely he or his supervisor will do anything about this, but maybe it’s worth a try. I, being an employee myself, just feel sympathetic when I read that Alfredo had to handle this incident… Well, of course, it’s still part of his job no matter it’s tough or not :)

  6. I agree with you completely. Something else that is annoying to me is that BofA tries to mask the fact that we’re speaking to people from India with the names that they use. The name on your example was Alfredo, I just spoke to someone on chat at BofA who was supposedly named “Kristen.” HOWEVER, I’ve dealt with India resources for 10 years now (I’m in I/T) and I know certain phrases like “let me do the needful” that only come from an Indian person speaking English. BofA, if you’re going to try to maximize profits by using India people, fine, everyone is doing it. But don’t think that we’re stupid enough not to realize it!

  7. All of the Banks have their call centers in other parts of the world, mostly India. It is not the employees in India that are the problem, it is our Government. They encourage companies to send the work out of the country and give them tax write-offs to do it. Go after the Congress, they are the guilty party here. So are the banks of course, since they are using our money to pay those foreign employees.
    I think you were rude to the employee in India. It isn’t Alfredo’s fault that the banks prefer to pay their CEO’s such high salaries that they can’t afford to pay employees a living wage.

    • Absolutely no argument from me on those points, Verna. I agree. It’s our government that’s making it so attractive for businesses to send jobs overseas. Members of the house and senate make laws that benefit their rich business buddies who contributed big bucks to their campaigns instead of benefiting the people they’re supposed to serve. Maybe it’s time to clean house and vote out everyone in Congress? Sure seems that way to me.

  8. I understand you,but they,too are people. They feed their families. Please be kind to them.Everything will be settled if you talk respectfully and not harassing them verbally

  9. I’m embarrassed as an American to read that transcript. The guy is just doing his job. Yell at the appropriate people, lady.

  10. I am not from USA , I am from Costa Rica but, My wife is From USA ,TN , she is an example of respect and kindness, so I´ll would belive that you are just a exeption, a fail, you should know that nobody is more important that anybody else, you are proud saying that you own all your mortgage, home equity loan, helicopter loan, two credit cards, and about six bank accounts, Wow seems like you have so much money , why instead to be being racist here, you take your sister and provide her with a Job, you are not the most importante person in this world there is other people trying to live and feed their family ,I feel sorry for you ….. for real, Maria if you are disappointed with the BofA support, so open a escalation with Bank of America and tell them your frustration, with respect , then may be they will ear you, but with the manner showed by you, certainly you will be ignored. “Alfredo” showed a lot more of respect and education than you, so he deserve my respect.

  11. Awesome! Nearly 2 and half years later and I too had the opportunity to chat with “Alfredo” today, along with “Scott Anderson.” I thought maybe I was lucky enough that after two chats and a phone call with no help the “system” realized that I needed to speak to someone who could help. Turns out that even though the name was supposedly “Scott Anderson” that person was working from the same scripts with broken English. Some highlights…

    You: Hi, Scott. I’m trying to set up safe pass but I’m not receiving the text message. I verified the phone number and I’ve tried it a few times with no luck. Is there any other way to get things activated?
    Scott Anderson: I regret to hear that you are facing problem with safepass.
    Scott Anderson: Let me check what best I can do for you.

    Or how about…
    You: ok. I have the “Send SafePass Code” button.
    Scott Anderson: Please click on that.
    You: ok. And I get the box to enter the code from the mobile device.
    Scott Anderson: Yes, that is correct.
    You: Except I don’t get a code on the mobile device.
    Scott Anderson: It will take some time I would request you to please wait for some time.
    You: You only get 10 minutes.
    Scott Anderson: Yes, you are correct.
    You: I’ve tried 3 or 4 times over the past couple hours. I haven’t received any codes.
    Scott Anderson: I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
    Scott Anderson: I would request you to call our online banking support team, the team will be able to assist you further with this.

    I’ll spare everyone the rest.

    Thanks for the post, Maria, and keep the blue side up!

      • Hello, Maria. They don’t fool you. They’re there to provide service especially when you want to get refunds for the overdraft fees you have on your account for spending money that you do not have!

What do you think?