Can the Clueless Survive?

by Moshe Yudkowsky

Yesterday I received yet another phone call from Chase Bank's collections department. The call wasn't for me; it was for a relative who experienced fraud on their card. But the collections department continues to call me instead of calling the overseas direct contact number I gave them, and since apparently the fraud department and the collections department aren't on speaking terms these harassing phone calls continue. I remain caught in the cross-fire of interdeparmental warfare.

I spoke to Matt, a supervisor in the collections department, and I explained at length and with some vehemence that this harassment had to stop or I'd file with the FCC. Matt explained that his department, as a matter of policy, only makes calls to the numbers pre-programmed into their autodialing system at the pre-programmed intervals, and even though I'd given them the correct contact number they'd continue to call me. He offered to further explain bank policy, but I wasn't interested: I don't care about their policies. I care about the effect of those policies, which is harassment.

After hanging up on Chase Bank, I realized how much the bank and other clueless companies depend on dumb phone systems. My home number is dumb; I don't even have caller ID, because it rankles to pay for a service that ought to be free. My cell phone is smarter, with caller ID built in. My office number is on the brink of brilliance: I'm part way through the process of switching to VoIP. As a matter of course — it's built into ViaTalk's basic VoIP service — if I were to convert my home number to VoIP, I could automatically route all calls from Chase Bank's collection department to a busy signal. No muss, no fuss, and no harassment.

What this means is that VoIP implies challenges not only to classical telephone companies and telemarketing scum but to established companies as well. Chase Bank's dimwitted policies and inefficient, ineffective procedures may work when their victims have no choice; but once everyone has a smart phone system, how can a dumb company alienate its customers and still survive? If Chase Bank can't figure out how to place or even how to receive an overseas telephone call, how can they expect to cope when telecommunications become truly borderless?


2007-08-02 16:20:00
I have had some recent trouble along the same lines with another card but my wife has a Chase account. The automated calls are on purpose without a doubt. The man you spoke to lied as they often do. When the account is closed the calls will stop, so, they do have the ability to remove your number. It is harassment plain and simple. The oldest technique to get your friend to call back. If more people would litigate on this issue they might eventually adjust their policies to reflect something more fair and balanced. But they seem to act with a kind of fearless defiance of the laws that are intended to protect the consumer. These situation quickly get to the point of litigation where lenders demonstrate their unfair advantage.
2007-10-27 18:56:31
I guess this sort of thing is a pattern with Chase. We've been fighting with them concerning an $8000 invalid charge for years. I've repeatedly, and in writing, asked them to cease the harassing phone calls. Now, they have started to call my 91 year old dad, who lives 120 miles away! They have no shame, and a class-action lawsuit is clearly called for. Where to find the right kind of law firm?
David Ohme
2008-01-06 08:25:21
I've had issues with Chase bank also. I was in a car accident and lost my job and income, meanwhile having a past due amount on my Chase credit card. Citi gave me a hardship break for 6 months, but Chase increased my interest rate then proceeded to collections. I had told them for a year that I would receive a settlement soon and pay them in full. All the while the Chase collections call and call and call wanting to make a "deal". Pay half now and half next month. WHAT??? If I can't make the $400 payment how in the hell can I pay $2400 now and $2400 next month??? Thanks to Chase I now hate banking practices for their heartless greed based tactics disguised a customer service.
You R the clueless one
2008-01-07 04:22:26
Ok...your first few lines really discredit your article. The FCC regulates communications, the Federal Reserve Bank regulates the financial sector. The Federal Trade Commission, well, lets be nice and say you would be spitting into the wind dealing with them over a complaint. Vote with your feet and wallet and move to another bank.
Moshe Yudkowsky
2008-01-07 05:44:14
I see that "clueless" didn't actually read my blog entry, or perhaps failed to comprehend it. It's an interesting question for a blogger: do you delete pejorative articles from people who are off topic, or leave them in place and respond? Especially from people who are insulting, anonymous and possibly just trolls?

In this case I think I'll respond. Yes, indeed, the FCC regulates communications; and they're an appropriate Federal agency to complain to about inapproriate phone calls. Other agencies don't have jurisdiction.

Since I wasn't involved in the credit card dispute and didn't even have a Chase credit card, I can scarcely "vote with my feet."

And, of course, that's not the point of the article in any case. It's about clueless companies that rely on dumb phone calls to dumb telephones in an age when being smart is how you win.

The stream of continuing comments on this article (not all are displayed, for unknown reasons) tells me that Chase is still out there, pursuing an outmoded policy that can't possibly work in the long run.

2008-01-08 07:43:36
My family member used to work for this "organized" company. She had to quit. Apparently they use mobster methods to harrass the public.