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Customer Service Waste

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Customer Service Waste

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 25, 2009


Last Friday I had occasion to contact USBank when I was helping with the transfer of a title and license plates for a car that had been purchased at the end of a lease. All should have been straight forward and correct; right? After all, banks must handle thousands of similar transactions.

Instead of just trotting off to the DMV with money and papers in hand to get the new title and have the license plates transferred, I examined the forms from the bank. The title clerk must have left for lunch between starting on the forms and finishing them, because the Title Number on the forms was correct but the VIN wasn't anywhere close. There weren't just a few typos; she had typed someone else's VIN on two forms!

When I called the bank, I understood they could not talk to me because of customer confidentiality, but I finally got a manager to look at the file and see the error. She agreed to fax the vehicle purchaser/owner a copy of the sales agreement for the end-of-lease sale.

Then I noticed that one of the forms was an Illinois DMV form that allowed for the transfer of the existing license plates, which could be done for a $3.00 fee, instead of the normal $65.00 license plate cost. This meant that the plates on the car could stay on the car.

And so I called back. This time I ran into a stone wall at the bank. I needed to talk to the department that prepared the Bill of Sale and DMV form incorrectly, but they are shielded from customer contact. That's great customer service, USBank!

The customer service rep was polite but firm. He refused all help, because the purchaser of the vehicle was not available to approve his talking with me. I pointed out that he didn't to talk to me; all he needed to do was listen. He could see the errors that USBank had made. All he had to do was get them fixed and mail them to the purchaser (not to me) at the address in their file. The supervisor must have breathing down his neck. The outcome?

USBank will overnight an Overnight envelope to me. I am to return the incorrect forms. Then they will overnight corrected forms to me. That makes THREE (3) Overnight Delivery expenses. Since it was a Friday, I could have just mailed the incorrect forms, and they would have been delivered in Wisconsin for $0.42. Instead, USBank will spend $30 to save me $0.42.

Next time you are selecting a bank that promises to keep your banking expenses low, be sure to remember this story.



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