Bank Of America Gives You A Sales Pitch When You Call To Ask Them To Stop Giving You Sales Pitches

Jasper got a notice in the mail about marketing from Bank of America, so he called them up to opt-out. After agreeing to stop spamming him, the Bank of America CSR launched into a sales pitch for their “credit protection” services…

Jasper says:

I got a “Federally required affiliate marketing notice” from my Bank of America credit card. So I call the numbers and relatively quickly I get to talk to someone and I tell them to “limit my marketing offers” as much as possible.

Ok, blahblah, done deal. Wohoo, from Oct 2008 on, no more SPAM from BOA.

“Is there anything else I can do for you sir?”

“No”.

And then she asks….

“Are you aware of our credit protection plans….” at which point I interrupt her and tell her “Ehm… I just asked you to limit the marketing offers…..”

She goes “Ok sir, you’re right. Have a nice day”

I feel so bad for these scripted readers. There is no logic in what they have to read….

We feel bad for them too. When they launch into their painful marketing messages at the end of a call we like to pretend there was some sort of emergency and quickly end the conversation.

“Oh, my god, I’m so sorry, my pop tarts are stuck in the toaster. Have a nice day!” Click.

Anyhow, if you’d like Bank of America to stop marketing to you, Dear Reader, you can go to https://www.bankofamerica.com/privacy or call them at 1.888.341.5000. You can opt out of phone, email, and direct mail marketing as well as information sharing.

(Photo: epicharmus )

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    Infuriating that banks (not just BofA) think that every contact with customers is a sales pitch opportunity. Gratifying that the CSR in this case at least realized the stupidity of it and stopped when asked.

  2. bonzombiekitty says:

    Most likely the CSRs are required to ask for every call. Just like some cashiers are required to offer you magazine subscriptions, credit cards, etc.

    Just suck it up and say “no”. It’s a whole ten seconds out of your life.

  3. battra92 says:

    That’s probably why I prefer to do business with a local bank. No massive call centers or scripts. I just go into the one location they have and talk to someone who knows what they are doing.

    I never understood why people hate banking so much until I saw how other people actually bank. Now that my check is direct deposited into my account I don’t get to go in and see the nice tellers anymore and I kind of miss that.

    So, I’m old fashioned and sentimental.

  4. Antediluvian says:

    I had a similar call to my prescription insurance people — Medco. They had insisted on calling regularly to tell me I could save money by getting my scripts filled mail-order, and I wanted them to stop calling me.

    The _MORON_ CSR I spoke w/ INSISTED on pitching the same damn service before, during, and after the Do Not Call request. I could NOT get her to stop and understand that she needed to shut the hell up (I used different language).
    Her: “But I just want to tell you how you could save money”
    Me: “Lady, I just asked you to stop pitching me your products by phone”
    Her: “It’s not a pitch, I’m just telling you about our service”
    Me: “That’s what a sales pitch is!”
    Her: “But you don’t have to buy anything, just fill your scripts mail order”
    Me: “That’s a sales pitch! You’re trying to sell me something”
    Her: “No, you buy it from the mail order people”
    Me: (visions of her dying a horrible death)

    I finally had to get a supervisor on the line to get this resolved.

    Moral of the story: Medco’s CSR people are incompetent idiots.

  5. scoosdad says:

    Anyhow, if you’d like Bank of America to stop marketing to you, Dear Reader, you can go to [www.bankofamerica.com]

    Just tried that, and it kept telling me that the account number I was entering for my Bank of America- branded Visa card was invalid. Tried it again with a different browser, cleared cookies, spaces/no spaces, etc., still no luck. I sent them an email to tell them it was broken, at least for me.

    The rest of the online opt-out was pretty quick and painless, and they didn’t try to sell me something when it was done.

  6. DanR2 says:

    When you call simply to activate a replacement credit card (not BoA; Citi), a human comes on and jumps into a sales routine. Used to be you just had to call from your home phone and punch a few numbers.

    Smart idea actually, from the bank’s perspective–they have a captive audience. You can’t hang up until you’re sure you’ve actually got the damn card activated. I interrupted her three times asking, “is my card activated?” until she said “yes,” then I hung up.

  7. hellinmyeyes says:

    Yeah, this “credit protection” banks are offering now is getting nonstop. I’m getting them from Chase every time I call, and a couple weeks ago I noticed American Express has added it to their battery of stupid crap to peddle. I eventually wrote out a full “STOP NOW” letter to Chase after one of their reps refused to take no for an answer and enrolled me in the program without my consent. Yes, I pray I won’t lose my job or get evicted or called to war while I carry a balance, but I’m not going to pay 1% of my balance every month to hedge against that. Better yet, I’m pretty much not carrying a balance anyway.

  8. cmdrsass says:

    When you’re on the phone all day long as these CSRs are, those pitches become automatic – a reflex.

  9. hellinmyeyes says:

    @DanR2:

    Exactly, that’s what happened to me. I called to activate a card and was actually confused when a human picked up afterward. That’s when the advertising started. That’s what I’ll do the next time. “Is my card activated? Thanks, good bye.”

  10. Antediluvian says:

    @DanR2: I always take that opportunity (when calling to activate a credit card) to re-verify my opt-out marketing preferences.

  11. Jesse says:

    @hellinmyeyes:

    I wonder if you can just hang up before the human comes on the line and your credit card still works.

  12. stacye says:

    @cmdrsass: Not only are they automatic, but they are also evaluated on the recorded calls. So, if they forget to pitch it, then their QA score goes down. If their QA score goes down, then they don’t get their yearly raise, or they get fired.

  13. HunterZ says:

    They wanted me to give sales pitches in the drive-thru when I worked at Taco Bell, but I never did because I *hate* it when people do that to me. I’ve noticed that GameStop employees are trained to give sales pitches when answering the phone as well, usually for stupid sports games.

  14. Nepkarel says:

    Nice link. In stead of logging you in through your normal account, they make you give you all your info. And in stead of just taking you off the list, they make you give them your phone and e-mail addresses that you don’t want ot be SPAMMED on. Which means that if they find another account from you, they can still SPAM you. Bastards.

  15. gamin says:

    @Antediluvian: Dude but you do save with medco

  16. CRNewsom says:

    I wonder what they would do if you called in, but already had every conceivable service they offered.

    CSR: Would you like our credit protection?
    Customer: I already have it?
    CSR: Would you like extra credit protection?
    Customer: ???

  17. Starfury says:

    When you get a new credit card and call to “activate” the card they always have some pitch for payment protection plans.

  18. Etoiles says:

    @HunterZ: I’ve noticed that GameStop employees are trained to give sales pitches when answering the phone as well, usually for stupid sports games.

    I realize this derails somewhat from the original article, but as a former GameStop girl I felt compelled to jump in. ;)

    GameStop employees / stores are occasionally subject to “bonuses” when a company has made a specific deal with the chain. For example, when GTA: San Andreas came out, there was a $5000 reward to the store that had the highest number of pre-orders (that translated into actual sales — and that was a sweet $100 cash in my minimum-wage pocket). It’s not daily practice to mention a specific game in the phone greeting so if you’re often getting that, that store is probably looking for some perks from the org. They also might need to raise their numbers to get approved for more employee hours, get sent more inventory of AAA titles, etc.

  19. MD4Prez2032 says:

    I worked for them and anytime someone wanted to “opt-out” of any kind of service, we were required to sell them another.

  20. Amy Alkon000 says:

    Bank of America is firing me as a customer (after I complained that they didn’t do the most minimum due diligence in verifying the identity of the thieves they gave $12,000 of my money to, just for starters), and I started searching for a new bank.

    I’m with the person above who suggests going to a local bank. A credit union is another good idea, but the one I’d be eligible to join is far.

    Anyway, I called a Santa Monica bank (First Federal of California) that’s a community bank, and gives to the community, too (and helped me get a homeless artist an account there so he could take Paypal), which is why I thought to go to them. When I called, I got personal service the likes of which I haven’t encountered in years — the almost 20 years I’ve been with BofA, with every dime of my money in that bank. Got the bank manager on the phone right away, she e-mailed me back answers to my questions, also right away, and a few hours later, the guy who’d be taking care of my accounts called me and gave me really friendly and professional service. I sense that if I had a problem, he’d be right on it. I’ll probably switch to them before Bank of America throws me and my money on the street at the end of the month.

  21. bagumpity says:

    These sorts of things only happen because they work. Some percentage of customers are convinced to purchase the (unecessary) credit protection, and the revenue from those sales is greater than the cost to sell (phone system, employee wages, etc).

    If you really want this practice to stop, you have to make the cost/benefit calculation tip to the “cost” side. To do that, we need to start a movement to keep the CSR on the line as long as possible. Call it the “keep ‘em hanging” movement. The longer you have the CSR engaged in making the pitch (i.e. reading from the script), the fewer engagements per day he can make. That translates to fewer sales per CSR, which eventually means they’ll either have to price the product/service out of its market, employ less costly and more ignorable sales techniques, or quit altogether.

    It’s actually quite fun, if you have the time. Pretend to be interested. Ask for more details. Ask them to read the entire text of the offer, verbatim. Appear confused about something that ought to be entirely simple. Then when you’re finally getting it, say “OK, I think I have it, but could you start all over again at the beginning just so I’m sure I understand?” Don’t stop. Make it up to them to call off the process. With luck you can get them to go through the entire spiel three or four times.

  22. Antediluvian says:

    @gamin: It could certainly be true that I’d save money w/ their mail-order service, and I told them they were welcome to send me direct mail touting its benefits, but no phone calls.

    And certainly no sales pitches DURING the phone request to stop getting sales pitches over the phone.

  23. Jesse says:

    @CRNewsom:

    Citibank still drones on. I said “yes” to having credit protection when activating a card and they still continued to tell me about the service.

    @bagumpity:

    Maybe if you could get your hands on voice recognition software and integrate that with a soundboard that say automatically says for instance “I don’t understand, could you repeat?”, at every gap of silence that would be perfect.

  24. knyghtryda says:

    I opted out of everything the instant I got my citicard, and it was simple. As for BoA, the CSR was nice and didn’t try to pitch me anything when I called to have them stop mailing me crap. I think you just had a CSR on autopilot…

  25. dragonfire1481 says:

    @HunterZ: As a former Gamestop employee, this is true. They would change the phone greeting every few months to correspond with whatever game we were hyping at the time.

    Also at the call center I worked at, we were required and expected to make sales offers on EVERY CALL, we could get a straight out FAIL on a QA if we didn’t do it. This was a customer service call center, but the main focus was on sales.

  26. AgentTuttle says:

    I just wish people would think for themselves and not turn into drones. It’s like when they put a flier advertising a chimney sweep on a house with no chimney or when I ask for my nachos with no pico de gallo and then they sprinkle cilantro all over them as a garnish.

  27. 310Drew says:

    The only thing your going to do by keeping the rep on the line wasting time is holding up other customers and increasing the hold times. I work for Bank Of America. If they want you to talk to a rep, you will talk to a rep, it’s as simple as that. They don’t care if the peon already on the line finds it too difficult to say no when we offer something so they want to talk and hang up after thirty minutes, you will wait 30 minutes then. Just think of it as we are offering you options. A simple no does the job, sometimes two no’s, but how hard is that. Just think, if we didn’t make an offer in the first place, you wouldn’t have that worldpoints credit card to call in to activate. If you respond to one of our marketing efforts and take the offer, you better believe we now know it works sometimes,and we will now make additional offers to you. It is the company philosophy it’s not up to the rep to decide what product is right for you, it’s up to you, so we just make the offer. Instead of berating the associate like many of you do, next time your offered credit protection from boa, say no thats not for me, do you have any other special promotions for me. You would be suprised at how many things we can offer. Checking accounts, with opening bonuses, overdraft protection, a new credit card with a lower rate ! identity theft protection, a free mortgage quote, a consolidation loan, etc, the list goes on and on and on…..

  28. Nepkarel says:

    @ 310Drew: Really, a bank that offers financial products? Wow, that’s new.

    Now the real questions: how many of these products do I actually need, are they worth their money, and how many would not exist, if banks would be doing their job and had protected their customers data decently?

    Let me guess: 0, no, all.

    I agree though with the sense that you shouldn’t be rude to customer reps. However, I’d like them not to insult my intelligence either. Is that a fair deal?

  29. ogremustcrush says:

    Yeah, when I got my citicard and called their number to opt-out of stuff they tried to sell me on their credit monitoring service on the idea that because I was opting-out I was careful about my privacy. I just essentially started reading credit tips from the consumerist that I follow until they stopped trying to convince me that I need the service. Heh.

  30. Antediluvian says:

    @310Drew: Your ideas intrigue me. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  31. hellinmyeyes says:

    @Jesse:

    Definitely what I should have done. I suspect my fear that the card wouldn’t be activated fully if I did that was unfounded.

  32. scoosdad says:

    @scoosdad: Followup to my earlier post re: problem with opting out of marketing via a Bank of America credit card account:

    I just got an email back from them saying:

    We apologize for the inconvenience using the online privacy preferences form. There is a known technical system problem and technical support is currently working on the issue.

    They manually opted me out instead and so I’m all set. It should be pretty easy to do online once they fix the bug, whatever it is.

  33. 310Drew says:

    @Nepkarel We do not know how many products you need. Thats up to you to decide. It is our job though to let you know they exist. As for protecting customers information we actually do quite a good job at that if you do your research online. Sometimes our fraud department is actually a nuisance when being proactive and suspecting fraud and putting a hold on an account if the customer can not be reached to confirm the activity. Majority of the issues come from third party compromises such as TJX not protecting your info.

    @ hellinmyeyes – next time you get a credit card that needs to be activated, try using it before you call in, you would be suprised at how many of them come pre-activated or will “self activate” after a certain amount of time.

    Realistically only debit cards need to be activated with your pin, and I prefer to call in at 5am when nobody else is or just activated at an atm.

  34. joebobfunguy says:

    BoA really makes me sad. They have the best online system, but when we switched to them my wife started getting at least two calls a day. And this is for a business account. We tried calling them to have them stop, and they enrolled us in payroll. As you probably guessed, the charge appears every month!

  35. FLConsumer says:

    @Antediluvian: Not trying to be off-topic, BUT… Try looking up what it would cost to get your prescriptions locally. It ended up being cheaper (and less hassle) to get my father’s prescriptions at Sam’s / Costco than Medco.

    Does anyone know if BoA’s forcing their US Trust customers experience this crap from them? I know US Trust would never have done this in their day, but BoA at the helm could change things.

    Also, does Wachovia do this to their customers?

  36. Nepkarel says:

    @ 310Drew: Of course you know what products I need. You know perfectly what services I have with BOA, and you can recommend based on that knowledge. The problem is, that despite the massive data-mining that goes on to determine my credit, banks do not data mine when it comes to pitching products. That’s laziness of your side, not making my life easier.

    It may be your job to make me aware of your products, but that’s only from the perspective of your job as a seller, not from the perspective of you as a customer service represantive – who should be helping the customer, not spamming the customer.

    Last, I was talking about ID & credit protection in general. America is unique in its financial mess. ID theft *does*not*exist* in Europe, because governments have forced financial companies to look after the privacy of their customers. But then again, that would not be in the interest of American banks, because without credit and ID theft, there are also no related products to be sold.

    BTW: what is this activation nonsense about if cards are pre-activated anyway? Oh, I know, there another sales-pitch moment to the customer. Again, good for the bank, but a hassle for the customer.

    Customer service is not the same as continuous sales pitches.

  37. I’m canceling my BofA account exactly because of this sort of bullmanure this weekend.

    Every time I’d go to a teller at BofA they would insist on trying to sell me all kinds of crap even after I politely declined more than once. The tellers would do this before, during and after the transaction I was at the bank in the first place for.

    It’ll be my pleasure to tell them why I’m canceling. They’ll probably try and sell me something after the cancellation, too.

  38. Antediluvian says:

    @FLConsumer: Actually, I have prescription coverage through my husband’s insurance (a long and hard-fought battle covered here in other articles and on other venues), provided by Medco. They were pitching their 90 day supply by mail for one $10 copay vs. the 30 day supply I currently get from CVS for $10. At some point I’ll consider making the change, but for now I _like_ going to CVS, they’re good there and if I run out of pills before a refill has kicked in they’ll spot me a few. The cost savings might be significantly greater if it were for drugs that had no coverage on our plan.

    Medco’s savings will make me consider them, but their hard-sell techniques were simply horrible. In addition, I had another terrible customer service experience with their outsourced phone CSR’s (Philippines). Language and cultural barriers and a complete inability to think beyond the script.

  39. Zombilina says:

    @Pixelantes Anonymous: Exactly! I have direct deposit, and only need to see a teller once or twice a year, to deposit birthday and Christmas checks. Last December I went in to deposit a check and the teller would not stop selling me the effing credit card. I already have a BofA credit card (“but this one is better!”), and because I consider myself a generally polite person, I didn’t want to walk away while she was in mid-sentence. In the end and after at least three or four “no, thanks”‘, I had to interrupt her, take my deposit receipt and Get. The. Hell. Out. Had I known she was going to be so bloody persistent, I’d have shut her down earlier.

    A minor inconvenience in the bigger scheme of things, but obnoxious as hell.

  40. wwfmike says:

    We have a small family owned and operated clothing store and we get about 2-3 recorded sales pitches a week. A while back I waited and talked to the guy, who was all giddy because someone actually didn’t hang up, and I asked him to remove us from their calling list and he just hung up immediately. This happened two more times but the people would tell me that our number was removed. The last time I waited on the line, I got a woman and she said that “oh we are allowed to call you since you are a business”. So I asked her if that means they are allowed to continually harass us with calls and she said yes. I thanked her and hung up. At least she was honest.

  41. yashichi8bit says:

    I got this same notice. I was planning to call them today and opt-out.

    This is BS, there should be a default opt-out and the offer to opt-in.

    This notice also says something to the extent that out of their many affiliates I cannot opt out of all of them. So what I think it is sayinging is that at least one will get my info and process it as they would no matter if I opted out or not.

    I did not like this letter

  42. Marshfield says:

    BofA did OK by us until they dropped their VisaBuxx card. It was handy to be able to load funds on the kids cards for small(or large) purchases on a moment’s notice without being afraid they’d overdraw their spending limits.

    It worked pretty well, and then for some unknown reason, they dropped the Visa Buxx program, so we moved banks.