In this latest edition of Executive Customer Service cures all that ails you, reader Jeremy was able to keep his Discover Card APR from rising by escalating to the top of the customer service ziggurat. However, he doesn’t realize that he shouldn’t be so happy about keeping an 18.24% APR. We let him in on the secret…
From: Reception [redacted]
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 1:33 PM
Subject: Customer Service Issue re: Arbitrary Rate Increase
Dear Mr. Nelms,
I am contacting you in the hopes that you will be able to resolve my complaint. I have been a loyal customer of Discover for nearly 2 years now. I use my card regularly, always pay on-time, and am in good standing. I’ve always enjoyed the willingness of your company to help when I have issues and to monitor my account for fraud if there are any charges out-of-the-ordinary.
However, I received a form letter on October 10th, informing me that my APR would jump from its current 18.24% to the Prime Rate + 14.74% with no information as to the cause of this increase. I called customer service and spoke with a representative who informed me that this had nothing to do with my credit score or account standing and that rates were changing to “remain competitive” with industry standards. To keep my rate as it was, my only option was to close the account, even though your company would “hate to lose me, since I was a good customer”. Confused, I ended the call and searched online for more information.
On October 12th, several consumer advocate websites had more information on the rate change and that thousands of customer’s rates had been arbitrarily raised. It was also pointed out that the Prime Rate had just been lowered, that Discover was still offering cards between 10.99-18.99% on their website, and that no other credit card companies were doing this.
Frustrated that I was singled out but determined to stay with Discover, I again contacted customer service today – October 15th. I initially spoke with a Representative in your Ohio call center named Tiffany, asking that my rate stay the same after December 1st. I pointed out the fact that the Prime Rate had been lowered, that you were still offering the same rates as before, that none of your competitors were doing this, and that it was causing a lot of bad press for consumers. She again stated that the only way I could keep my rate current is to close the account. I asked to speak with a supervisor and she contacted me with a manager named “Kelly”. I re-stated my position to keep the current rate and said I would like to remain a Discover cardholder, but I thought this situation highly unfair and arbitrary. Kelly still would not help me and I asked whether it was better to keep a loyal customer, over increasing company profits in the short-term. Her answer was simply “no”. I then asked to be transferred to your retention department in hopes we could work out a mutually agreeable solution and she informed me that she would not transfer me as my account was “ineligible for retention”.
Now I’m contacting you, in the hope that you realize that keeping a good and loyal customer is more important than raising short-term profits. Please note I’m not asking for a significant decrease in rate, just for things to stay as they are right now. Up until this point, I’ve been quite pleased with Discover and been able to say that you aren’t like “every other credit card company”. But, if my rate is arbitrarily changed, you will be just another credit card company to me, I will close my account, transfer the balance, and never become a Discover customer again.
I’d like that not to happen though and hope you agree with me. I look forward to hearing your positive resolution to this matter, you may contact me via phone @ [redacted]
Here’s the strategy Jeremy employed, a classic system of escalation:
1. Play the loyal customer card. You would just hate for this small issue to cause you to take your business 2. elsewhere, because you really enjoy doing business with this company.
2. Not getting anywhere with first rep? Ask to speak to their supervisor.
3.Plead your case again. Is the supervisor Immovable ? Ask for retentions. Their goal is to keep you as a customer.
4. Being denied a transfer to retentions, Jeremy sent a well-crafted, thoughtful and personal email to executive customer service, where he found success.
The only problem is the resolution Jeremy sought wasn’t very good! It’s a sad state of affairs when people are pleased about a 18.24% APR. What is this, consumer Stockholm syndrome? Your APR is at least 4 points over the national average. But at least you had a successful escalation. Hopefully you won’t have to put those skills into use again…. with the new credit card company you should be switching to. Bankrate has an easy-to search database for credit card offers, and you can specify if you want to look for cards with low APRs.
RELATED: Discover Randomly Raises 400,000 Members’ APR “To Remain Competitive”