Remember the time you ordered all your holiday gifts through Amazon.com and there was a delivery mix-up that nearly left you empty-handed at the big family party? You fumed, but you still love shopping at Amazon – who doesn`t? What about the time that you went to Costco to stock up on your favorite brand of yogurt, only to get home and find that the entire case is expired? You forgave them, didn`t you? And I bet you don`t hold it against Starbucks when your favorite cute barista mixes up your order and gives you regular milk instead of soy.
But what about when your credit card company slapped you with a penalty APR just because you were a little bit late making your payment? You were just about to call them to work out a deal, and – BOOM – penalty APR. They did end up working with you and lowering your APR, but the whole thing left a bad taste in your mouth. You couldn`t quite forgive them, could you?
Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?
According to a recent study, when it comes to credit card companies Americans are a hard-hearted bunch, refusing for forgive them when fees are issued, credit limits are lowered, APRs are hiked, terms and conditions are changed, or other irksome events occur.
The Temkin Forgiveness Ratings were invented in 2011 and are designed to analyze customer loyalty and satisfaction among Americans. They survey 10,000 consumers on their feelings about 206 companies from 18 different industries, from grocery stores and coffee shops to auto manufacturers and health insurers. And of course, credit-card issuing banks – which came in at the very bottom of the survey.
Some of the best-rated companies were Hyatt, Costco, Chick-Fil-A, Amazon, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Apple and BMW. The big losers, in addition to credit-card issuers, were Comcast, Quest, Chrysler, US Airways, Anthem and CIGNA.
One Bank Takes Top Spot
The winning company in the survey – the one that Americans seem to be happiest with and most loyal to, most ready to forgive for any wrinkle in service, is actually a bank. USAA is a credit-card issuing bank that caters to military families, and they earned the top spot with a 54 percent forgiveness rating. They are the lone credit-card issuing company that did well, perhaps because they are a specialized bank and don`t do business with the public at large.
Hey, What Did We Do?
Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Boston-based group that bears his name and which specializes in customer research, said that the survey`s results indicate that people just don`t seem to like credit card companies. He says that when people like someone, “you`re willing to forgive them for just about anything. With people you don`t like, it`s hard to forgive them for even the littlest of issues.”
Among the banks at the bottom of the heap in the Tempkin survey are Citigroup, HSBC and Bank of America. Citigroup came in dead last with a rating of negative eight percent.
The response from The American Bankers Association? Jeff Sigmund, senior director of public relations at the ABA, issued a general statement rather than responding directly to the survey. “Most people see credit cards as a useful financial tool and have a positive relationship with their own card issuer. Providing good customer service and resolving any issues quickly is of paramount importance and remains our highest priority.”
Can`t Live With Them, Can`t Live Without Them
With credit cards being such an essential tool for most Americans, and millions of Americans using their cards every day for everything from paying bills to buying dinner to paying for gas at the pump, it may simply be a case of loving to hate our credit cards. After all, where would we be without them? The very people who claim to hate their credit card companies may be the same folks cashing in reward points for frequent flyer miles and cashing rebate rewards checks from their credit cards.
Of course, dealing with the right credit card company is important. Consumers should shop around for the credit card and issuing bank that seems best to them. If they have good experiences with their credit card issuers, it`ll go a long way toward customer loyalty.