Westpac delivers the antithesis to customer-focused service

On November 11th 2009 I cancelled my Westpac credit card. The customer service person was helpful and efficient but I wasn't convinced that the card was really and truly cancelled because  a few years back I had another allegedly cancelled card and then found extra charges and fees turn up on it after it was destroyed. So I asked whether this card was truly cancelled and I received a promise from the Westpac customer service lady that no other charges would appear.

Last week I happen to be online and noticed I could still see my cancelled credit card among my other accounts. I clicked on it and low and behold there were two charges on the card for $43 each and an interest charge of 87c. I rang the bank but it was the weekend and the dispute team was not working. They said they would ring me Tuesday. On Wednesday I receive a call from a woman from the dispute team who listened to my complaint, then said she was sorry and that she could refund the 87c. That wasn't good enough because they'd promised there would be no charges so I said they needed to pay the $86 themselves. Apparently, this was impossible. She then started pointing our that the credit card contract said I would need to pay any charges.

By this stage I'm pretty annoyed. My blood pressure was rising. I said that to merely apologise without showing you were sorry was not a real apology. And offering to pay 87c was an insult. She maintained the line that it was impossible for the bank to pay the other amounts, because that's what the contract said. At this point I mentioned that I also have a mortgage and a business account with Westpac, and like my credit card I will be looking to move them to ANZ. There was a pause. "I can refund the $86," she said. Hmmm, I thought that was impossible.

This instance occurred in the last couple of days when I was hunting around for examples of Australian companies that really have their customer at the heart of everything they do. Sadly, like this example, I can only find the antithesis to client-focussed service. There is a company in the US I discovered that really lives customer service: Zappos. They sell shoes and a bunch of other things online. Check out this customer service story.