Today I decided to cancel my “Privacy Assist” credit monitoring account through Bank of America. Fun times, fun times.
I’d used Bank of America’s Privacy Assist service for a few years. Recently, I pulled a credit report for all three bureaus to see where I stood. Thanks for that by the way, Comcast, my several-years-closed account which you sent to collections after claiming I hadn’t returned equipment, despite the receipt I produced on several occasions really reminded me to watch my credit score like a hawk … assholes. In any case, the service that “comes with” freecreditreport.com’s “free credit report” seems a little more detailed, so I thought I’d switch.
I logged into my account – which is separate from my Bank of America online banking account for reasons unknown – and looked around for what I figured a large corporation like Bank of America would easily provide: the cancel link. I consider myself fairly web savvy – I mean, come on – but it struck me as odd that I simply couldn’t find the link. I checked the FAQ: the only mention of cancellation is a warning about how it would affect some bullshit software they provide. I clicked the contact link: no e-mail address, no form to fill out, just a telephone number and a mailing address.
It was at this point I realized what I was in for, exactly. Asshole Tactics. The Asshole Tactics Rules of Engagement state the following:
- Make it easy (or involuntary) to sign up for a service online.
- Require recurring payments by credit card.
- Make it impossible to cancel the service online.
- Mention nothing about how to cancel, only warnings of bad things happening should the consumer decide to cancel.
- Make the most convenient method of contact a live, person-to-person telephone conversation.
- Make every effort to side-step the cancellation request (including dire warnings, guilt trips, implications of irresponsibility at not wanting the service, etc.).
- Imply the consumer is unfriendly if they don’t play along with item #6.
- “Mistakenly” ignore the request, resulting in at least one more recurring bill.
With the exception of Rule #8, the “gentleman” with whom I spoke today followed the rules perfectly that I could tell. Whether Asshole Tactic 8 is followed or not remains to be seen. It will be another month until I know for sure. Make no mistake, there will be no need to “imply” that this consumer is unfriendly (#7) if #8 is followed.
After a mostly standard identity verification process, the guy noted I’d been “with them for some time” and asked me, “Is there any reason you don’t want to continue this important service?” I fully understood he was doing his job (customer retention or, better yet, up-sell), so I said in a kind tone, “Oh, I’d just like to cancel.”
What followed was a flurry of (scripted) attempts at attacking the ‘problem’ from different angles. Comically, one of them sounded like a spurned boyfriend/girlfriend along the lines of “if it’s anything we did wrong”. I kept responding, “no, I’d just like to cancel.” Could I have told him why? Sure, but it would’ve resulted in a whole different page of questions, selling points of their particular service versus the competition, and attempts at offers of a free month or a temporary upgrade (which I’d have to call back to ‘downgrade’ in a month, lest it turn into a ‘permanent temporary upgrade’), etc. I’ve been through this before. Many, many times.
After the first four or five times I had calmly restated that I’d “just like to cancel”, the man’s tone became … desperate? Impatient? Annoyed? I’m not sure what word best describes it. In any case, I finally told him I’m just trying to get this done and don’t want to answer any questions – please, just cancel the service.
This prompted what must be the “emergency question of last resort” in his script – it involved the dire consequences of a lack of credit monitoring service, with the implication of irresponsibility and lack of reason on my part. That’s when my patience ran out.
I didn’t curse, I didn’t yell, I only said forcefully, “Sir, either cancel the account with no further questions or put me through to your supervisor.”
At the time, I was highly annoyed by the response (in fact I sat there biting my tongue to keep from yelling), but now it’s almost entirely comical. He said, “Alright, sir, I see you prefer automation. We try to have a conversation with people, but I see you have zero tolerance. I’ve canceled the account. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Me: “Nope.” Click.
I mean … seriously? What the fuck, Bank of America? Do you really need to retain customers on that service so badly that you’re willing to resort to fly-by-night industry Asshole Tactics? I’m seriously considering moving to another bank on principle alone. Douchebags.
I realize I’ll probably have to go through the same thing with freecreditreport.com (all the signs are there – you can apparently only cancel by phone), but hey, I fight the battles as they come.
Update: I’ve since learned that the providers of Privacy Assist is a completely different entity than Bank of America (hence the crossed-out references above). That doesn’t make Bank of America look much better, however – they should be aware of Privacy Assist’s customer service practices by now, which begs the question: why would BoA continue to associate themselves with these people?