Glitches, Breakdowns & Failures Are the New Normal

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
business breakdowns and meltdowns

Companies have powerful technology to enable a good customer experience, but it seems that business glitches, breakdowns and meltdowns are on the rise.

Despite increasingly powerful enterprise systems and software, business glitches, breakdowns and meltdowns seem to be on the rise. Here are a few of the irritating and maddening problems I've encountered over the last few weeks and how the companies involved responded to them.

Chase: I attempt to pay for a bottle of water at a vending machine using Apple Pay, and the bank rejects the transaction (even though I've used Apple Pay successfully elsewhere). I spend nearly 45 minutes navigating three levels of phone support, and I'm told the problem won't happen again.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I attempt to use Apple Pay at a Michael's store, and the bank again blocks the transaction, even though the regular credit card works just fine. After another 20 minutes with a Chase representative, he finally admits that this is a known issue. Grade: C-

Apple: Normally, Apple delivers stellar support. But twice, after downloading a ring tone from iTunes for a member of the household, it vanishes. I decide to make my own ringtone and ask for the $2.58 refund.

We send iTunes a note asking for a refund. No reply. We send it again. No reply. Two weeks later, I'm forced to call and waste 27 minutes of everyone's time for this measly sum. Grade: D

Wells Fargo: Suddenly, my Health Savings Account (HSA) disappears when I log onto online banking. When I call the bank, the representative tells me the account is closed because I'm three months and $9 behind in paying monthly service fees.

However, I had already spent all the funds in the account on medical expenses, and the site wouldn't let me deposit anything more, thinking it was a contribution above my annual limit. I figured I would simply add funds after January 1, and the bank would be happy. But, no, without a letter, email or phone call, the bank just shuttered the account and reported the so-called delinquency to credit bureaus.

Fortunately, the rep is able to open a new account, but can we say huge H-A-S-S-L-E? It's incredible that no one would review the account or situation before taking action, especially since I'm a premiere customer. This is clearly a case of automation gone wrong and analytics MIA. Grade: F

This article was originally published on 2014-12-29
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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