Credit Cards: What do people complain about ?

The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put out the complaints that it has received about credit card companies since June 1. Banks are naturally unhappy. But they should not be because instead of a "buzz" in forums, Facebook here are  actual complaints that give huge insight as to what annoys folks the most. The types of complaints  are available as a neat pie chart and table at the CFPB website.  At the time of writing here are the 28 categories of  complaints totalling 133 complaints from June 1 to June 19.  All credit card companies might want to use the CFPB pie chart  table as some great actionable insight. Here are the top two complaints, about 39 % of complaints as of today, and what credit card companies might do to address them:

  1. Billing disputes top the list with 33 out of 133 complaints or about a quarter of complaints. Here is how this dispute plays out at the consumer end: you call the card company to complain about the bill. It's not clear whether this is for charge disputes (that need to go to the merchant) or charges that the bank imposes. Either way if you are charged for something wrongly, you would be angry. Add to this an operator who is not empathetic, or a process that does not resolve the issue quickly but just bounces the customer around. What should banks do?  Treat all billing disputes as potential big deals. Think of these complaints a bit like the happier sales conversion process when a consumer actually signs up for a new credit card. Now going backward, the consumer is getting progressively  so annoyed as to file a complain with CFPB, mention on Facebook and Twitter and any other "?" website. The ? being the bank in question. If 25% complaints can be sorted out by this one issue, its both worth studying deeply and handling on a fast track.
  2. APR or Interest Rate: This one had over 14% contribution to the complaints. When credit cards keep talking about interest in the teens and twenties as penalties when everyone else is giving almost free credit ( OK I mean the 0.99 and 1.99 % interest you see advertised for autos), it does seem unfair. This one is a policy issue and Bank CEO's/CFO's need to listen to the marketing folks who are bringing back the feedback that it's not a good idea to write threatening letters to all customers about high interest rates and actually charging many of them for the slightest infraction.

The rest of the 26 issues are 6.5% or less of all complaints and probably become part of the long tail of complaints.

The CFPB putting out the formal complaint data will just add one more Internet source for the consumer who is anyway not listening to traditional marketing messages. An interesting challenge for the credit card organizations. Contact StratoServe.

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