Consumer Brutal, Chase Bank

Yesterday’s Innovation is Today’s Expectation


I do my banking online, as much as is possible. As an innovation it’s remarkable — not having to mail checks to pay bills is wonderful. Online banking saves me time. Checking balances, transferring money, having online records to reference, it’s all very convenient. It’s magic.

Until it isn’t.

I bank with Chase, more formally known as JP Morgan Chase. To be fair, according to my colleagues in the innovation space, this true story could probably apply to any USA bank (“stuck in the 90′s” was a phrase I heard more than once).

What happened:

I’ve been locked out of my online account.

Last week I arranged a wire transfer to an account in the UK. It’s all legit. Not my typical transaction, and that’s what’s gotten me in this mess. Clearly, some automated artificial intelligence system said “this is unusual” and flagged the transaction. That’s okay. What isn’t okay is the drill I’ve been put through to do something that should be easy and convenient. What’s missing is an easy and convenient way to verify an unusual transaction. Locking me out isn’t the right answer.

As an innovation advisor, if I was working with Chase, I’d focus on this question (at least as a starting point): “How might we (Chase) verify unusual transactions in a consumer friendly manner?”

Without having done anything wrong at all — and using their security system properly — I was locked out of my account and instructed to phone in to get it unlocked. Well, I did phone in and in the process of getting my account unlocked I hit the wrong button on my phone. Once. Was not permitted to try again even though I was on the phone with them. No amount of pleading would get me another chance, I was now banished and forced to see a local banker in person. Wow, talk about consumer-brutal.

Consumer Brutal — a term I’ve just invented to describe consumer pain. 

I live about 20 miles from the nearest branch, so, a visit is not trivial. Round trip driving is 40 minutes or more. Actually, given I usually spend Saturday’s in funky jeans and a t-shirt, it also means I have to shower and dress respectably before I make the drive. So, this is a 90 minute thing, minimum. Consumer Brutal: My visit to the bank last Saturday was unfruitful — I was there over an hour and was unable to get my account unlocked (so, really two hours). The Branch Manager did his best, but he was put on hold by his own co-workers and we both sat there waiting until the bank closed. He had to close. So I had to go. Consumer Brutal. The Branch Manager was as handcuffed to problem solve as I was. Branch Manager Brutal too. We talked about baseball while we were waiting, which was fun, but I’m wondering if Chase as an organization really wants the lead employee at a branch to be talking Little League with customers when they could be, you know, solving real problems.

Today is Monday. I called a half hour after the bank opened and there is still no resolution. The Branch Manager was apologetic but said to wait until I heard back from him before I try to login to my account again. And, I received a message from Chase, via email, related to the transaction that has caused this problem. It’s directing me to my online mailbox. Of course, I can’t see the message because I’m locked out of my account. That feels stupid — shouldn’t their vaunted systems know I’m locked out?

So I’m waiting to hear from my local branch manager. I would guess that somehow this will be resolved today, I’m hoping I don’t have to return, again, to the local office. So far I’ve spent approximately three hours of personal time attempting to resolve the matter, so far. And of course, my transaction is probably cancelled. And if so, it will be late. Which is… Consumer Brutal!

Note: Ahh, resolved. I’m allowed back into my account. Good news, no return visit is necessary. But, I have to do the wire transfer over as the original (completely valid) transaction was cancelled. Sigh. Consumer reaction: This is a very clumsy, ham-handed, and consumer unfriendly way to manage security, if effective. In sum, it’s bank friendly, Consumer Brutal. I’m thinking of changing banks. Chase has indicated they are behind the times. And that makes me feel insecure — the exact opposite of what they intended. 

All this to make my innovation point, which is: you can’t stand pat on innovation. Yesterday’s magic is today’s expectation.

Chase Bank has failed me as a consumer by putting an enormous roadblock in my way of completing a necessary and legitimate transaction. Some would say I’m supposed to feel good that they are being careful with my money and making sure no fraud is happening. Yes, and, I know for a fact that European banks have security devices and methods in place, right now (and have had for a few years) that would have prevented what has become a personal nightmare here in the USA. In other words, Chase can say “we are only trying to prevent fraud” and I’d say, good, but How might you prevent fraud AND still provide the convenient online tools I’ve grown accustomed to?

Time to innovate Chase.

Time to innovate security USA Banking industry.

Just another piece of our infrastructure that is in desperate need of updating.

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