Monday, April 7, 2008

More about service attitudes

No ranting and raving this time. Just a few observations on the erosion of service attitudes in the on-line, telephone line purchase of commoditized items. I've recently needed to refinance my mortgage as we've purchased a new home. Thought the logical place to start would be my current provider. For years I've done virtually all my banking on line and my mortgage was always renewed with no issues. This time however the provider announced that they weren't really all that interested in renegotiating and in fact maybe I should be looking in other directions. Surprising enough as that was, I decided what the heck, let's find alternatives then. Here's where I learned a good lesson about what you get and what you give up in on-line dealings. I initiated discussions with RBC - met face to face with a mortgage advisor. Normally I dread these interactions but this person was friendly, helpful, resourceful, engaging, and gosh darn it actually interested in securing our business. How refreshing I thought. She came back with some excellent advice and recommendations so then I thought well let's go back to my current on-line provider and see what they say. Same response. Then I thought, well I'll move the mortgage. At that point, always the naif, I expected some action. Nope. Same response. So asked what the penalty would be for early payment of the mortgage. That seemed fairly straightforward...simple calculation of interest differential and/or payment of interest on three-month period. Nope. Won't tell me a darn thing unless I send them a LETTER by snail mail 30 days prior to my closing date on new property.
Simple observation is this: when you're dealing with purely commoditized transactions such as savings, RSP, and the like the on-line bank is just dandy. BUT when you need advice and assistance there is no replacement for face-to-face conversation with a committed person. It's just too easy for a faceless voice on the end of a phone line or email to retreat to the comfort of standard policy and procedure. You just have to give up any notion of independent thought on the part of the service provider and I guess that's partly why you get superior rates.
Oh, wait. That's not right either since RBC have offered a superior rate and superior service and insight.
And one other thing...this on-line service provider wants my request for a change sent snail mail. Oy!
Gives hope to those of us who value human interaction over purely transactional relationships.

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