Important note: If you’re only interested in programming-related posts (rather than those related to interpersonal or possibly human-computer interaction) please stop reading.
I lived in the US between 2000 and 2003, and have since kept a bank account there which – among other things – makes online shopping easier, on occasion. Anyway, my bank over there (which shall remain nameless) has recently changed their policy regarding my account, as my salary is being paid elsewhere: basically they wanted to start charging me a $9.95 monthly fee. I phoned the bank and negotiated a fee waiver for the coming 12 months, so I could then decide whether to transfer across the $1,500 minimum to keep the account fee-free or to just close it and move my few remaining dollars elsewhere.
Today I received a letter saying my account was overdrawn (oh, and that the letter was costing me $35, which makes me even more overdrawn… just like those dratted emails you get to say your inbox is over-quota… <sigh>). I checked online, and – sure enough – I’ve been getting charged monthly fees and (now) overdraft fees.
It being Veteran’s Day (and the middle of the night, California time), I decided to give their online chat a whirl. With very interesting results that I simply couldn’t resist sharing. This isn’t the first chat I’d started with one of the bank’s online specialists: I’d previously got quite far into the discussion with someone called Caleb, but the browser-based chat window somehow navigated back to the previous page as I was typing (probably due to user error, but at the time I thought I’d hit the backspace key).
Before we move on to the chat itself, here is my question to you. If this chat were a Turing test, would you declare Cassandra human or computer? From my side I’m even now not sure whether I was communicating with a human that was having trouble deploying canned responses or a mildly deranged bot. Comments welcome.
Welcome to an online chat session at Bank X. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Bank X Online Banking Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. Your current wait time is approximately 0 minutes. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for choosing Bank X. You are now being connected to a Bank X Online Banking Specialist.
Cassandra: Thank You for being a Valued Bank X Customer, I am Cassandra, specialist in personal checking and savings accounts opened in California, may I have your Full Name as on Bank Statement & last four digits of your account number?
Kean: Kean Walmsley, xxxx
Cassandra: Thank you, Kean.
Cassandra: Good morning!
Cassandra: Please let me know how may I assist you today?
Kean: I started a chat with Caleb, but when I use the backspace key the chat closed. :-(
Kean: I have some issues with unwarranted charges on my account
Cassandra: I am sorry to know that. Please do not worry. I will try my best to help you.
Kean: I was informed by Bank X some time ago of a change in policy related to my account
Cassandra: As I understand that there are some unauthorized transactions on your account am I correct in understanding this?
Kean: I now live in Switzerland, so only keep my Bank X account open in case I come back to the US
Kean: Not unauthorized, as such
Kean: Account fees + overdraft fees (because of the account fees)
Kean: I spoke with Bank X a few months ago, and they agree to waive the fees on my account for the next year
Cassandra: I understand your concern regarding the fees.
Cassandra: I will surely check this for you.
Cassandra: Please give me a moment while I access your account.
Cassandra: Thank you for your patience, Kean.
Cassandra: As you are promised that your account will be reverse with the account fees, I will be able to refund you the $9.95 fees.
Kean: And the two $35 overdraft fees?
Cassandra: As you are a valued Bank X customer Let me check what best I can do for you.
Cassandra: I see that your account is overdrawn on 10/26 for the amount of $55.65.
Cassandra: As there were no funds in your account your account is assessed with the fees.
Kean: The amount of $55.65 took me overdrawn by $25 or so, part of which was due to the $10 fees I was being charged
Kean: As I said, I access/use this account very rarely, so was not aware of going overdrawn by $15
Kean: But I've since received $70 in fees for that $15
Kean: Plus the account fees
Cassandra: Yes, I do understand your concern here, Kean.
Cassandra: Let me check what best I can do for you at this point oftime.
Cassandra: After close review of your accounts I am unable to refund you the fee of $70.00 overdraft fees to your account and also the monthly fees to your account. Trust me I really tried my best to in refunding you the fee.
Cassandra: May I proceed with the refund to your account?
Kean: What are you going to refund?
Cassandra: I am refunding you $70.00 overdraft fees to your account.
Cassandra: And also the monthly fees of $9.95 to your account.
Kean: That's great: I'm confused because you just said you couldn't
Cassandra: I am sorry for the confusion.
Kean: Please go ahead with the refund
Cassandra: I literally tried my best in refunding you the fees, Kean. Trust me.
Cassandra: I have successfully applied $70.00 refund to your account and also the $9.95 to your account. Please allow 2 business days for the refund to post your account.
Kean: I was charged multiple $9.95 fees (one around 9/26 and one on a month later).
Kean: Will I continue to be charged on a monthly basis?
Cassandra: I see that you have a Standard checking account it requires minimum daily balance of $1,500.00. And the monthly fees is charged for the amount of $9.95 if you do not maintain this balance.
Cassandra: I will be able to refund you the two months account fees for you.
Kean: Thank you
Cassandra: You are welcome.
Kean: I understand about the $1,500 minimum: I was told I would have 12 months to decide whether to transfer the money or to close the account
Kean: They said they would apply some waiver to the fees for those 12 months
Kean: I assume that has not happened
Cassandra: I see that there is no waiver on your account thus the reason your account is assessed with the fees.
Cassandra: I have a suggestion for you.
Cassandra: May I?
Cassandra: I see that you have a good account history with us. Based on your account history with us they will be able to place a waiver on your account. Once the waiver is placed on your account your account will not be assessed with any fee.
Kean: That'd be great
Cassandra: Usually you need to visit the Banking center to get the wavier placed on your account.
Cassandra: As you are out of U.S.A I will be able to help you with the branch number who will be able to place a waiver on your account.
Cassandra: May I help you with the Branch number for you?
Kean: If you could give me the San Rafael branch, I can call them directly.
Cassandra: Yes, yes. I was talking about the same. I will help you with the San Rafael branch.
Cassandra: The branch number is 415-555-5555.
Kean: Thank you. Are they closed today for Veteran's Day?
Cassandra: Yes, they are closed today, I request you to please contact them tomorrow.
Cassandra: I personally apologize for all this trouble, Kean.
Kean: That's fine - I appreciate your help with the refunds.
Cassandra: I thank you for your understanding in this matter.
Cassandra: I have successfully applied $70.00 refund and the account fees for you. Please allow 2 business days for the refund to post your account.
Cassandra: Is there anything else I may assist you with?
Kean: That is all, thank you again.
Cassandra: We certainly give in our best when it comes to customers like you.
Cassandra: Bye! Take care! Have a great day!!
Cassandra: Have a wonderful time and keep smiling!!