Credit Card Fiasco

The first thing I noticed was that the new credit card was lighter, thinner and flimsier. It looked fake. I re-read the bank notice. It assured me that this was a genuine replacement card.

It was strange though. It had a blank card face with no identifying names or numbers and an oddly vertical, portrait-type orientation. I flipped it over and saw that all the particulars were on the back, printed flat and not-embossed. How come there was no signature bar? True, I hadn’t signed for a credit card payment in years. Maybe the banks were finally catching up with the times. (1)

I peered at the sticker for the 1-888 number to activate the card. You’d think with all this redesign, they could have used a bigger font. Reading glasses and x2 magnification later, I dialed the number and waited for robo-operator to respond.

Welcome to So&So banking services!”

Such a chipper, yet irritatingly familiar voice.

“For service in English, press 1. For service in Spanish, press 2.”

Huh? Canada has two official languages – English and French. All businesses and government services are transacted in either. Even though my French is abysmal, I have come to expect a choice of French or English. Spanish is a poor and frankly, insulting substitute.

Notwithstanding, I keyed ‘1’ and followed the instructions to type in my 12 digit card number and postal code.

“I’m sorry but your postal code is not correct. Please re-enter your 12 digit card number followed by your postal code.”

My postal code was definitely correct but allowing for mis-keys, I re-entered the information.

“I’m sorry but your postal code is not correct. Please re-enter your 12 digit card number followed by your postal code.”

I re-re-entered the information.

“I’m sorry but your postal code is not correct. Please hold while I transfer your call to an operator.”

When the operator came on line, I went through another barrage of authentication. My name. My birthday. My address. My 12 digit card number.

“Thank you, ma’am. How may I assist you?”

I explained my dilemma.

“I’m sorry ma’am but we’re having technical difficulties with the service. Can I suggest that you call back and try again in three hours?”

Ma’am was getting annoyed. Couldn’t they have declared that BEFORE this circus of authentications? Can you activate it from your end, I asked.

“I’m sorry ma’am but the system is down for me too. I’m afraid you’ll have to try again later.”

Grumpy and dissatisfied I hung up and decided to try again tomorrow. That’d give them plenty of time to resolve the ‘technical difficulties.’ Ten minutes later I received a Customer Satisfaction Survey for my service call. I ignored it. I don’t think they really wanted to know.

Two days and three tries later, I was finally able to activate my card.

My next task was to change my PIN.

Unlike every other bank, this bank had chosen to not transfer my old PIN to the new card. Instead, they issued a brand new PIN and invited me to customize it by calling a totally different 1-888- number.

<< … insert dialog with annoyingly chipper and increasingly tiresome robo-voice … >>

Many unsuccessful tries later, I was transferred to a call-center operator.

“Thank you ma’am. How may I assist you?’

I would like to change my PIN.

“I’m sorry ma’am but you can’t change your PIN now.”

But my bank notice says I can customize it.

“I’m sorry ma’am but the system is unavailable due to technical difficulties. Please use the PIN that was mailed to you. As soon as the system is up we will notify you of its availability. “

When do you expect it to be up ? Three hours? Three days? Next week?

“I’m not sure ma’am, but rest assured, you will be notified as soon as possible.”

Feeling not at all assured, I told the young lady that I was very unhappy with this new card roll-out.

“Yes ma’am. I’m sorry ma’am.”

I also told her that the automated system kept prompting me for English or Spanish. Spanish! Why not French? Afterall, this is Canada. Our official languages are French and English. Not Spanish.

“Yes ma’am. I’m sorry ma’am.”

Realising that my diatribe was accomplishing nothing, I ended the call. Afterwards, I felt bad about venting at the operator. It wasn’t her fault that the banking systems were flawed. Unfortunately, she was at the front-lines. I wondered what, if anything, she would do about my complaint.

I found out the next day.

I was using the self-checkout at the grocery store. After scanning all my groceries, I selected Credit Card for payment and tapped my card. Immediately after tapping, the language on the screen switched from English to French.

That was my last transaction with this card.


(1) According to this article Credit Card Design will Change Forever by 2024. New credit cards will no longer have magnetic strips, signature lines or embossed numbers. Instead, all cards will be chipped and re-oriented for tap payment. According to a study commissioned by Mastercard in 2020, 79% of people worldwide now use tap and pay to pay for their purchases and the easiest way to tap is to hold the card vertically.

20 Comments

  1. What a weird design that card had. You’d think they’d include a pamphlet advertising + explaining the new design, so they wouldn’t get so many calls. Over here, many companies have stopped offering phone numbers. You have to download a self-service app. If you have a problem (or WHEN), then you’re stuck with a chatbot. Some chatbots eventually let you chat with a human, who has the power to resolve issues or even pick up the phone, but some companies just have the chatbot! 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like a choice of evils. I’m not sure which is worse but I strongly suspect the chatbox. I ventured down this chatbox path & gave up … the agony is x10 when I have to type all information then wait for the useless replies. At least phone-bots are (sometimes) voice activated.

      But I agree with you. If a bank is going to roll out changes like this, they can give some warning. A few days after my fiasco, I got an email from the bank COO apologizing for all the issues. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one affected and the screw-ups were even worse for others. I expect that more than a few heads are rolling in HQ … but not my problem. I don’t use the card anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fiasco! I hate those automated calls that seem to take you around in circles 😑 The info about the change to vertical arrangement is interesting. I use tap and pay most of the time and I really don’t care what way up I need to uold the card as I’ve got no need to read anything on it while tapping!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is this new vertical design being rolled out in the UK? This year all of my new cards have been oriented this way. Coincidentally (or not) all of them have had logistical issues with the roll-out.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no problem with systems myself. Due to my work background, I know exactly why failures like this happen. At some point, someone had a brilliant idea to roll-out a newly designed card. The failure was in the execution.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Sandy, I know how you feel. Let me just say I am currently working through issues with the IRS over my last two years returns and I’m not confident that my life span will allow me to resolve these issues. I can’t tell you how many times I have become ensnared in phone options – press 1 for this, press 2 for that – that end up with me back at my starting point with no idea how proceed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel for you, especially since it’s the IRS. You have no option but to keep on trying, right?

      These robo-phone options are a nightmare. Sometimes I exhaust the entire menu of options before I’m finally handed off to a real person. Then of course, I’m advised that “Your call is important to us” and “Your approximate wait time is 3 hours and 45 minutes”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It never occurred to me that it was a scam. Up until my phone interactions, everything came thru Canada Post and was on the up and up.

      If this hadn’t been my go-to credit card, I would have given up sooner. All in all though, the full experience made me re-evaluate and dispose of the card.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How annoying. I kept thinking the whole time I was reading this that it was a scam. I know a lot of people who don’t like the tap option. They’ll go crazy if all cards go to tap only. I personally like it but I can see why some people are hesitant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not scam, just pure incompetence on the bank’s part.
      I like tap payments too. I understand why some people wouldn’t like it but it’s pretty much the norm now. Seems to me that I’ve had more fraud issues with the old style payments (with slide, sign & carbon copies) than this one. In that respect, card payments have much improved.

      Liked by 1 person

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