KEY QUESTION: How effective are your dispute resolution procedures?

THE SITUATION: While reviewing my online business account bank statement recently I discovered an error in a debit card transaction–a restaurant charge had been posted that was $4 more than what my receipt showed that it should be.

MY INITIAL ACTION: When the error was discovered a call was placed to the bank and I was informed that I would need to come in and fill out something called a ‘Dispute Resolution Form.’

MY SECOND ACTION: While making a deposit at the bank’s drive-up window I requested a copy of the form. A nervous teller struggled for a moment and then told me I would need to come inside because she needed me to give her some information for the form.

MY THIRD ACTION: Upon entering the bank the teller began to ask a series of hushed questions about the transaction in questions: Where was my card kept? Where did I keep my PIN number? Who else knew the PIN? Who else had access to my card? How did I think the transation could have been made without my knowledge?

After the third question I clarified that the problem was with a restaurant charge that was not in the same amount as my receipt showed. She smiled politely, made a side comment about restaurants often adding on larger tips and asked me if I had written the tip amount in and so forth. Then she returned to the form and the questions.

THE PROBLEM: No doubt it is obvious at this point, but I have already invested far more than $4 worth of my time in this and I really don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

MY FOURTH ACTION: I ask how much more there it to this “Dispute Resolution Form” and learn that there are three more pages, two of which I have to complete and one that they have to complete. Not only that, it needs to be notarized when it is all finished.

MY FINAL ACTION: I tell them it is not worth it, i.e., that I not willing to fill out a five page form for $4, return to office, call the restaurant, and resolve the matter in about 3 minutes.

THE POINT? If the bank is really there to serve me, don’t you think they could come up with an easier way to handle something so simple.

OK, I know. Some of you are asking why I didn’t just call the restaurant in the first place, and normally I would have, but I was curious about how the bank would handle the problem. My curiousity had been peaked because a similar problem occurred a couple of months ago with my Credit Union and it was solved with a simple 3 minute phone call to them.

THE LESSON: Credit Unions preach great service all of the time, and in this comparision my credit union indeed delivered exactly what I wanted–a quick, simple and to the point solution that required a single action on my part. The same situation involving my bank, however, required five different actions on my part and the final solution did not even involve them!

ACTION ADVICE: Review all of your member-oriented procedures with this little example in mind and ask this question: Have we simplified this as much as we can to better serve our members? If not, take the advice of Henry David Thoreau and simplify, simplify, simplify!