How to Lose a Guy in 10 eStatements

Matt Swain
Jul 8, 2010

After succumbing to the marketing pleas of one major bank, I moved exclusively to electronic bill presentment and payment. It was the first credit card statement for which I “turned off” paper and I was curious to see how I would like it. For this bank, moving me to electronic presentment may have resulted in short-term cost savings; however, there was a hidden cost that they may not have considered – the loss of a customer.

Last night, I received an email from this particular bank notifying me that my credit card statement was available online. When I went into the account, I was surprised to find a late fee and interest fee for a missed payment. 

Apparently, the chain had broken somewhere in this billing cycle. I immediately thought that I had missed the email reminder, but it turns out that the reminder never came. I sorted my email Inbox by related emails and it showed the following:

Sorted Inbox

I had received messages in March, April, May, and July notifying me of a credit card statement; however, I have no record of a similar email in June. While the bank took the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell me, they forgot to mention that my statement was available and that I was going to be penalized for a missed payment. Yes, I could set up an automatic payment and avoid this problem, but that’s not the point. If a bank asks me to move to eStatements, I expect that bank to provide the statement every month (and so does the government).

I cannot think of a single instance where I did not receive a paper bill or statement in the mail in a given month. That physical mail piece is my trigger to take action. Even if I choose to pay the bill online, the visual signal of a bill on the corner of my dining room table is my reminder. With my move to electronic presentment for this bill, I lost the physical reminder and paid for it. It cost me $39.00 in late fees and $15.58 in interest.

When I called the customer care center to plead my case, they were unsympathetic. The representatives I spoke with explained that my payment is due regardless of whether or not the notification is delivered. You may have found it comical to listen to me explaining that I did the bank a favor by turning off my printed statement, and they return the favor by sending me marketing messages instead of payment notifications in June; however, my pleas fell on deaf ears. The line that Jimmy, the phone rep, gave me was something to the tune of “unfortunately, we cannot remove the late fees from your account due to the current economic conditions the bank is enduring.” This bank’s profits doubled from 2008 to 2009 to $12 billion.

In the end, I closed the account due to my frustration. It wouldn’t surprise me if this bank spends well over the $54.58 (in fees I paid) on marketing to get my business back over the next 10 years.

The bottom line is that companies need to think about their implementation of EBPP strategies. There is no question in my mind that if I had continued to receive a printed statement from this bank, they would still have my business today. While I will continue to support electronic bills and statements from my other providers, I will be receiving them in both print and electronic formats.

Have you had similar experiences with electronic bill presentment and payment? Have you seen the opposite occur with print? How is your company approaching the EBPP discussion? InfoTrends is launching a study on this topic this August in a multi-client study entitled The Future of Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment in North America. The study will address the EBPP discussion from the perspective of the consumer, vendor, provider, and corporation to better understand how companies can find the perfect balance of printed and electronic bill presentment and payment while minimizing consumer frustration.

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