Customer Deflection Mismanagement

I’ve been on hold with my bank: Washington Mutual, which now calls itself by the felicitous nickname “WAMU”, or “wammoo”. I’m calling them because I’ve arrived at this Identity Management Error page…

… (and yes, it actually does look like that, and say that, just like it did last November), after failing (not repeatedly but in just one try) to log in to my business account.

WAMU’s customer deflection system is easily one of the most labyrinthine and aversive I have ever encountered.

At one point the call center maze voice tells me to enter my account number and my “telephone access code”, whatever that is. So I guess it might be the last digits of my social security number. Nope. How about the last four of my company’s federal ID number. No luck. The last five digits? Six? Bzzzt. Then I try just punching zero at every possible choice point. But the system keeps telling me to now enter my account number.
Finally I reach a human being. She says she can’t help, and puts me through to a “business account professional” or something. After giving him my account number, over and over, his system finally accespt it. He tells me that the phone access code is the last four digits of the federal ID number. I ask why that didn’t work when I tried it. He says he doesn’t know. Finally he tells me “the system is down” and to call back later. At least he gave me his own personal number for that.

Oh, that “Your opinion counts” thing? Total bullshit. It goes nowhere, just like it did five months ago.

Anyway, I had to bitch somewhere, and this seems as good a place as any.


  1. Iain Henderson

    Yes, my bank (First Direct) in UK did a security upgrade last week and managed to forget about their 21,000 safari users – so no online banking for me for a bit without all the hassle of installing a new browser and going back through the security process.

  2. Dean Landsman

    “Your Opinion Counts” is the standard message in user-based and user held ratings and data collectionware.

    By telling them (the respondents) that their opinion counts, the company providing the research tool almost always increases response rate by a very significant percent.

    Telling the respondents that their input counts elevates them to a status in which they are incumbent, “the people who count” ergo, the upper crust.

    The data supporting this is very strong — also the data supporting the exact wording.

    If you’ve ever filled out a questionnaire or survey form from a major research organization the odds are pretty high that they’ve told you that YOUR OPINION COUNTS.

  3. shell

    I don’t know how many times I have called my internet company because my internet was down – and have the call center refer me to the website. What?! I think as companies continue to cut costs – we will run into this more and more. I watched an interview that talked alot about this. Pretty interesting.

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