My retention call with USBank, plus some rambling about customer service in the Twitter era.

We’ll start with the stuff that will be of interest to churners: I may have snagged a 5000 mile redemption bonus on the Korean Air Skypass Visa I applied for last year. I don’t get any value out of the card, so the $80 annual fee is a waste of money… the only reason to keep it open is to keep me eligible for the US Bank Altitude card that I may apply for later this year (although $80 for the option to apply for a card is a dumb expense).

You do get 2000 miles on your cardmember anniversary, so add the 5000 mile bonus onto that and I’m basically buying 7000 Korean Air miles for 1.14 cents each. I’m okay with that, given the small ancillary benefit of being able to get the Altitude if I want it.

The retention call was kind of funny, though. The first person I spoke to said that the only offer she could see was a 6-month reduction in my APR, which was obviously useless to me. I thanked her and asked to be transferred to the retention department, and she transferred me to Korean Air’s reservations line. Hang up call back, amirite? The second rep said she could give me 2500 miles or the APR reduction, but that I could talk to a supervisor if neither of those worked for me. I asked for the supervisor, who then said she’d give me 5000 miles right away, no strings attached. That’s what I was hoping for, since I’m consumed with the minimum spend on my SPG Business card for the next few months, so I accepted the offer.

The funny thing was how she described it — she was so flippant about adding the miles to my account that I wondered if she was being serious. I kind of imagined her sarcastically pantomiming as she told me she was putting the miles into my account as if to underscore that she was doing the exact opposite. She said the miles would post immediately, and of course they haven’t, but I’ll give it a few days before I call back. And with no documentation whatsoever, I don’t have much of a leg to stand on if I call back next week and get told that there’s no such thing as a retention offer. We’ll see.

I decided to make a questionably funny joke about it on Twitter, and I specifically didn’t tag US Bank in the post, since I didn’t want to bother them with my “comedy routine.” That didn’t stop this exchange from happening, though:


I find this so annoying, but it’s not US Bank’s fault. Twitter started as a great medium to get quick service from companies with impenetrable automated phone systems, but the expectation (and then demand) for immediate responses has led to companies having no choice but to hire support staffs that do nothing more than respond instantly, regardless of the original question. It’s about as useful as that annoyingly-affected automated voice saying, “I-I-I’m sorry, I-I-I did’t quite get that” as you scream “AGENT!” louder and louder into the phone.

So now we live in a world where companies care more about responding instantly than they care about responding to the actual question. Shitty consumers have backed them into this corner, since everyone wants to be the next viral sensation with their “OMIGOD I TWEETED AT DELTA 15 MINUTES AGO AND THEY IGNORED ME #BOYCOTTDELTA #DELTASUX #NOFILTER #BLESSED #SARAHPALIN #DELTA” bullshit.

I’ve seen this at work, where people tweet complaints at my company even though we have an extremely responsive customer service manager who spends half her day emailing people who have questions. The Twitter customer could take a few minutes to write an email and they’d get a personalized response, but it’s easier just to barf some stupid tweet complaining about how they’ll NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM YOU AGAIN #YOUSUCK. It drives me nuts, so I don’t blame companies like US Bank going out of their way to avoid making me wait more than 15 seconds for a response.

Which isn’t to say that Twitter support is always bad, only that people are assholes and have forced it to be bad. Just recently, I needed help changing an American reservation, and the Twitter rep did it for me immediately after I made the request and DM’d my confirmation number. It was super easy, and I was happy that American has invested so many resources in their Twitter support channel. I kind of feel like that’s more the exception than the rule, though. The majority of the time it’s just this response-for-response’s sake faux-communication (fauxmunication?) that only reinforces the fact that corporations may be made up of people, but they sure aren’t human.


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