PNC Bank Risks Thousands for a $75 Payout

It's not what you say, it's what you do that matters.

If “happy customers are your best advertising,” as Andy Sernovitz writes in Word of Mouth Marketing, then it follows that unhappy customers are your worst advertising.

While this is a basic rule of marketing, it’s one that companies constantly fail to follow.  As a result of their poor customer service, or misguided policies (or both), they create mounds of negative advertising that damage their reputation, but also their bottom line.

While I typically write and teach about grassroots communications, I have the current misfortune of being a highly dissatisfied customer.  It’s become a case study for my Grassroots Communications course on poor customer service and its consequences.

Here’s a quick recap: I closed my business account at PNC Bank in December 2009.  In February 2010 PNC honored a previously authorized electronic transaction in the amount of $472.50. This caused “my account” to be overdrawn.  According to PNC, I now owed them $75 in fees and overdraft charges.  Pure profit!

Six months later, despite my best efforts, this matter remains unresolved. I’ve made dozens of phone calls, visited three branches and in May (against my better judgment), reimbursed PNC for the original transaction (less fees and penalties).  PNC’s response?  They failed to cash my check and reported me to a collection agency.

It was only until I filed a formal complaint with the US Comptroller of the Currency, and threatened a lawsuit, that PNC began to respond in earnest.  Six months later.

What’s amazing to me is how much PNC is willing to risk for a measly $75 in fees.  I’ve since shared this horror story with dozens of people, all of them potential PNC customers. Think of all the time PNC employees have spent trying to collect this money or resolve this problem of their own making.  That cost alone must run into the thousands.

PNC’s behavior stands in stark contrast to that of my current bank, Burke and Herbert.  Customer service is one of their core marketing strategies and it was on display when I recently visited their Monroe Avenue Branch.  The manager could not have been more helpful in my efforts to resolve this matter with their competitor, PNC.

And come to think of it, that’s why I moved my money there in the first place.

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One Response

  1. This is interesting as I was just notified of a $75 fee for paying off my mortgage! What the heck!

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