Really, we’re just trying to help

Last Thursday evening I called my bank to report my bank card had been lost. I answered a bunch of questions and the person said they’d mail me my new card within five to seven business days. Boy was I surprised when a new card showed up in next day’s mail. The following day a new PIN code came in another letter. I called up to activate my new card and strangely, the person on the line asked me a whole lot of questions including one that I couldn’t answer–what date did I open my account? I’ve had my bank account so long I didn’t remember. After being placed on hold and asked a few more questions that I could answer, the person said my card had been activated. Boy this was excellent service!

Except it wasn’t…Sunday the ATM refused my transaction with a cryptic “your card couldn’t help us” message. Today I again tried my card (maybe I’m dense),with no luck. I went inside and told the teller my new card wouldn’t work. She looked me up in the computer after checking my ATM card and my ID and said that this wasn’t my new card, it was my old card. It had been reported lost or stolen so I couldn’t use it. All I could do is sit tight and wait a few days for my new card.

What happened? Why did my card show up early? I think I’ve figured this out. The last time I used my bank card I’m guessing that I left it at the machine. Thinking they’d be helpful, I suspect my bank then initiated a process to send me a “replacement” card which with same card number as my swallowed card, but requiring a new PIN.

If I had held off phoning in my lost card for one more day, that mysterious “replacement” card would have shown up and I would’ve been set (after I received my new PIN code in another mail). But once I reported my card as lost that nixed my old card for good. Bummer.

I have some gripes about my “replacement” card’s arrival. There were no clues about why it was being sent. Secondly, a separate mail came a day later advising me of a new PIN code, again, without explanation.

I can see some analyst pondering what to when a card has been left at a machine. Did they test the replacement procedure on real people (or eager phoning people like me)? How likely is it that someone might report a lost before the replacement mysteriously showed up? Why should phoning in a lost card invalidate the replacement process (I think I know the answer to that one as the original lost and replacement cards, having the same card number, aren’t unique…so how can the bank tell which card I was reporting as lost?)

I would’ve been happier if the person who answered the phone when I called to activate my replacement had told me, “No your card isn’t activated.” But maybe she didn’t know that it wasn’t usable. Or maybe she was just being obscure to throw off the card thief. I can only wonder. After the conversation ended, I knew my card had been activated and thought I could use it. But I couldn’t.

I know my bank was trying to be helpful by sending me a magic replacement card. But after one confusing activation phone call, two unsuccessful ATM episodes, and one helpful conversation with the bank teller, I finally figured it out. I’m crossing my fingers until my new card shows up and I use it for the first time.

Customer service that works!

It is passe to rag on poor customer service. So I won’t. Instead I’m going to praise Interlink Electronic’s customer support. A year ago I purchased a remote pointer from Interlink. I wanted to use it on my new tablet pc. Plug-and-play didn’t work so I went to their website to read the manual which directed me to press the laser button and direct the beam on the receiver’s starburst pattern for 5 seconds to re-program the device. When the green light glows steadily the receiver is programmed to the unique address of the RemotePoint Presenter Remote. After address is established, the LED will return to blinking green.

There was no starburst pattern on the receiver and no matter how long I shined the laser on it, nothing happened. So in a fit of inspiration I sent an email to their tech support. The next morning I received a reply that said that, “my device should require no reprogramming to get it to work.” But still it ended with a polite, “are you having problems with your remote?” I replied that “yes, I was still having problems and it didn’t work.” Within an hour I got a very clear email:

Try this procedure for re-training your receiver:

1. Disconnect the receiver from the USB port and wait 10 seconds.
2. Reconnect and once the LED starts to flash, position the remote no more than a foot away from the receiver.
3. Press and hold the right arrow on the remote for about 15 seconds. You should see the flashing LED on the receiver turn to solid green, then red and back to flashing green.
4. Your remote should be good to go.

And it was. I even sent another email asking for access to downloadable software that lets you reprogram the device and I got another quick reply. I could rag on Interlink’s out of date manual or plug-and-play equipment that wasn’t. But I won’t. Because their customer service (thanks Ody) was so responsive. Helpful customer service. Imagine that.