Why I cancelled my credit card and what it means about customer service.

Broadway credit cardPart of my personal curse (and also one of my best business assets) is that I’m always looking for the best deal.  I want the best deal on airfare, on office supplies, on everything!  And a coupon . . . oh man, that’s like sweet, sweet nectar from the small biz gods.

My staff is taught to always get 2-3 competitive quotes on anything we’re thinking about buying, so we can make the right choice for us.

(Side note:  one thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes the right choice involves paying more money.  In the first sentence of this blog, I said I wanted the “best deal.”  Don’t translate that to mean the cheapest.  The best deal for me means what gives me the most value.  And that can actually be more expensive.  This important distinction is especially true when shopping for talent.)

One of the most competitive industries out there is the credit card market, and it’s something that all small businesses should spend a lot of time researching before deciding where to put their charges.  You can negotiate better interest rates, annual fees. . . and of course rewards.  Cash back, miles, there are a ton of different options out there.

And I will drop one credit card for another in a rabbit’s heartbeat if I can get a sweeter deal.

A few months ago, I did just that when I noticed the Capital One “Spark” card was offering 2% (!) cash back . . . a full double what I was getting from my current card.  And I charge a lot . . . a lot . . . so that measly 1% could add up to some significant savings for my company.

And that’s where the fun ended.

Almost every time I went out of town (which is quite often), or every time I spent over a certain amount of cash, Capital One put a stop on my cards.  “Fraud protection,” they said.  They’d call me.  And rarely get me because of my schedule.  And I’d be left card-less.  And when they did get me, I couldn’t answer half of their questions because the VP of Finance in my office handles all the accounts and their passwords, etc.  It happened time and time again.  “We’re concerned about your card being compromised,” they said.  I appreciate that . . . but no card had ever contacted me this much.  No card had ever shut down my account this often.  And we had 5 or 6 cards on this account – and they’d all get shut down!  (And, we all know, they aren’t worried about me – they are worried about having to pay for charges that I didn’t make).

Protect me, yes, but there is such thing as too much protection, if it prevents me from actually using your product.

For example, an alarm is a good thing for all homes to have.  But an alarm, plus an armored gate, plus two bodyguards, plus a Pitbull on a leash out front, and a giant sign that says, “DO NOT ENTER – WE ARE WATCHING YOU!”  Not many people would want all that on their front lawn, would you?

Safeguarding your customers and yourself from fraud is essential, but you have to find the balance, so you don’t turn your customers away.

What does this have to do with the theater?

I’ve shopped for tickets on way too many sites that have impossible to read Captcha, or that require account setups, or need email confirmation of the account, or have terms and conditions that have to be agreed to that, once you agree, you’re kicked out of the sales funnel and you go back to searching for your product again.

And sometimes, I just don’t.

I canceled my credit card with Capital One and went back to my good ol’ Amex, even though I wont’ be saving as much money.  But I will be saving time, and that, for me, has huge monetary value.

Keep your customers from doing the same.  Protect them.  But don’t annoy them.


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  • Sue says:

    It’s not that they don’t want to pay for fraudulent charges. It’s that they don’t want to pay that 2%!! ROFL.

  • Len says:

    I just got a new credit card (to add to the many other, no fee points cards). To activate it, I had to call, and answer several questions given by someone with a very strong accent that was difficult to decipher. I was very patient. After that, they ran me through 4 Credit Bureau questions that required answers I couldn’t recall the information for. When they digitally checked the answers, I got some incorrect. They asked if I wanted to try again (I wonder how many times I could keep trying until I got it right). I said this isn’t worth the effort and said forget it and to cancel the card. He said, you want to cancel the card, I’ll have to transfer you to someone else. I said, pretend I never called you and hung up. Security? Whatever.

  • Kristina says:

    I simply loathe the Captcha. Half the time you can’t clearly see it, need to click for another one. It’s impossible and so 2010!

  • George says:

    Cap may be over reacting to “Target” – if this happened since December 2013.

    The Target breach was a MASSIVE breakdown of a system that had thought to have been the Industry Standard amongst Retailers.

    Honestly, there is very little margin between the Big Four; Amex, Discover, Cap One and Chase… and most of the industry is actually losing money… to make money

    Would You fill a theatre giving away “free” tickets if it stood a good chance to generate WOM? Think about that a while… that is what the Credit Card companies are doing…

    So the “over-reaction” is really due to the fact that Cap does not have the “capital” to back up the big losses that were being written off because of the Target (and Nordstrom) breach.

    I know at Chase – we – had the technology to shut down all cards that were used at Target with hours… and the capital to back up losses… I don’t think anyone else in the Industry had the staff and procedures and systems to react as quickly.

    But the ONE good thing that came out of this was the fast tracking for Chip & Pin (which is pretty much the World Wide Std – only we Americans have been sticking with the old slide and sign… or that silly 3-digit code)

    So a good part of this event goes away (until the thieves figure out how to com[romise the Retail Boxes… which is inevitable because the instinct to “steal” is always greater than the commitment to work towards making “profit” (and – no – they are not the same… just check in with Bastiat)

    Now – what I find far more intriguing – should be allowing Theatre Goers to “bitcoin” their tickets???


  • George says:

    p.s. the Industry makes its money on those of us (me included) who do not pay-off the full balance at the EOM!

  • Rialto fan says:

    I just went through the same thing with BMO Harris Bank, expanding in the U.S. significantly from Canada. Regardless of calling the ATM and Credit Card Risk Group in advance of travel, and telling them where I’ll be and when, my card was denied consistently. I had a CREDIT balance in excess of $150,000! I traveled Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii for 2 1/2 months & could not shop, get cash, or buy a meal! Fortunately I was with friends who had my bake. I am now in the process of moving auto deposits and bill payments and closing the account. Remember folks…it’s BMO HARRIS…unfriendly to consumers.

  • Adam says:

    I’m going through this today with Capital One. After reading this post, I called them, because I have a Spark card. They told me that I get miles, not cash back. I told them I don’t want the miles, because the things you can get for them (earbuds for an MP3 for only, what, 8,000,000 miles?) aren’t of interest to me. Their answer? You can’t switch. They didn’t care about losing Ken’s business and they don’t care about losing anyone else’s.

  • Too true, good customer service should give customers the freedom to enjoy your service or product. Bank’s customer service is rarely world class!

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  • Why I cancelled my credit card and what it means about customer service. – The Producer’s Perspective

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