Canadian's Internet Business

Updated: Learn from CIBC’s Example of Bad Online Customer Support

I tweet about good customer service much more often than bad, because most companies have the good business sense to make things right when given the chance.  Then CIBC raised my line of credit interest rate from 7-11% for no apparent reason and refused to do anything about it.  I tried calling and also made an appointment to meet with them, but all they would do is blame the computer and offered no explanation as to why the rate would suddenly jump.  The message was I’m not a customer at all, but rather someone they’re doing a favour for.

I decided it was a good opportunity to test the power of online influence with negative Twitter feedback.

What CIBC Did Right

My tweet was addressed in a promising manner.

It was obvious the first mission was to get me off of public Twitter and into a private message (DM).  That’s a good strategy, so I sent them a message as they requested.  Since the characters are so limited in Twitter, I asked that they contact me via e-mail and provided my address.  CIBC’s Twitter agent replied that someone would be in touch.

What CIBC Did Wrong

They didn’t follow through.  Once they got me off Twitter, there apparently was no need to bother with me further.  I received no e-mail from CIBC support and can only guess they consider the matter closed.

What CIBC Should Have Done

The customer isn’t always right, but in this case I most certainly am.  With a spotless credit rating, no late payments and many extra payments, over 10 years at their bank, etc., I am the perfect customer.  This bank, with it’s billions of dollars in profit, is making hundreds of dollars from my combined debt every single month.  It would cost them much less to quietly lower my rate and keep me as a customer.  The negative impact is compounded by the damage of bad publicity from a Canadian online influencer, with a reach of hundreds of thousands across various networks and outlets.

The Lessons

Besides being an example that we can all learn from, this post also serves as a warning to CIBC customers.  Watch your interest rates and don’t expect them to think you are as important to them as you believe you should be.  If you’re looking for a bank you can bet your business on, find one that truly understands the concept and value of good customer service.

Update:

After my experience and hearing from our readers since publishing this article, a pattern has emerged that the public must be made aware of. The line of credit and CIBC Visa credit cards have all followed this same “strategy”. Offer increase after increase or automatically increase the credit limit until it’s nice & high. Oh what a good customer you are, dig yourself in deeper by transferring other debt to your CIBC credit card or consolidate with a line of credit. Then as soon as they have you as high as they can get you, they slam you with increases in interest rates. We’re talking prime plus 14% on a line of credit and relentless increases on credit cards.  That could ruin a small business.

This bank is obviously only focused on brutally assaulting their customers, not working with them. What they apparently don’t understand, is as soon as these victims manage to dig themselves out of debt they leave CIBC and never come back. What’s worse, they’re telling everyone they can just how abusive this bank is. On top of that, many will either be forced into bankruptcy or will focus on paying off their debt faster, resulting in lost profit for CIBC.  It’s the worst “business strategy” I’ve ever seen, but they’re blinded by their billions in profits.

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I’ll be shopping around for a bank that can at least get these basics of customer service right.  Do you have any financial institution recommendations based on your own positive experience?  Please share them with us in the comments below

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