Don't Blame The Glitch.

“I’m sorry, sir. But it’s not our fault. And there’s nothing we can do to reverse this. We had a computer glitch.”

Hmmm. That’s strange. What did he mean, a computer glitch? Who is really in charge, us or the computers? Who is accountable?

I’d recently gotten an offer in the mail to upgrade my credit card. I didn’t want the upgrade. But here’s the rub – to not get the upgrade, I actually had to opt out.

OK, no big problem. I called the credit card company and after waiting for 10 minutes, I told someone I didn’t want the upgrade. They thanked me for taking the time, I said you’re welcome, and that was that. Case closed. Or so I thought.

A month later, I have a voicemail from the bank about some important information the bank wanted to share with me. I am informed through the message that I have a brand new credit card. My old credit card number is gone.

Now I have to waste time going through my credit card statements. I have to check off my automatic payments so I can get the bank to contact a bunch of vendors to get them to change my information so I won’t appear to be a deadbeat. It’s a hassle. It’s what I was trying to prevent in the first place. I didn't want or need the new features they were offering. And if the credit card company’s own process had been followed, it could have been avoided.

Let’s assume conservatively that 50,000 other credit card users (out of about 40 million or so) had the exact same issue and needed to contact their vendors to change their info. That’s 50,000 hours wasted because of a “glitch” that the company felt it was too unimportant to bother to correct.

The situation reminds me of a post by Vancouver-based social media and occasional technology blogger Darren Barefoot wrote a little while back when dealing with his bank (I Wanted to Like Vancity, But Now I Loathe Them). He wrote:

“I’m out of patience and goodwill. That’s three errors in six months, in our first year with a new bank. If we performed like this at Capulet, all of our clients would fire us.”

No one is demanding the impossible here.The program bug could have been avoided if the bank had only thought to not outsource its hassles to its customers. No one needed to resort to the lame excuse of the inoperable computer glitch. Indeed, most of the time, these kinds of “glitches” are swiftly corrected by companies that try to be accountable.

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by someone who went that extra mile to fix a problem instead of just giving up because of a glitch?