Last month I had the misfortune of having a credit card hijacked for fraudulent online purchases. Citibank was wonderful, detecting the activity and stopping it immediately. I had direct billing from several places going to that account, and I quickly set about switching those to a different card using online self-service. All went well for my electric bill and NY Times subscription, but when I tried to change the direct billing for my home land line, Internet and satellite TV, which are combined into a single monthly bill, things went seriously wrong. As luck would have it, that month’s direct billing was set to process the next day, so I felt a sense of urgency in getting it moved to a different payment source.
The telco would only take direct payment online by Visa, so I couldn’t use my Amex and wouldn’t have a new Visa number for a week. I could have it directly billed to a bank account, but that would take 2 weeks (!) to setup. So I called customer service. I knew I was in trouble when the billing IVR asked me to “press 1 for land line, 2 for Internet, 3 for satellite TV” but had no option for converged billing. I spoke with 6 people at 4 different 1-800 numbers before resolving the issue, and it took over 2 hours of my time. One lady told me I could use Amex to make a payment by phone. Wrong. I tried making a payment using a debit card, but to do so I had to enter the 18-digit account number for my phone/internet/satellite bill. And where do you get that? Turns out the ONLY place to get your 18-digit account number is on your paper bill, which I don’t receive because I have paperless online billing. My account number isn’t shown online “for security reasons.” What a debacle.
All 6 people I spoke with had one thing in common: the attitude that this wasn’t their problem. And that, my friends, is the reason for this rant today. (more…)