December 12, 2006

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Falling Between the Cracks

Here's a great example of defective process logic:

Last week I lost my wallet travelling to a meeting outside London. I immediately called my bank and credit card companies to tell them the bad news. One company stuck in my mind in particular, for two reasons:

1. I spent nearly 25 minutes on hold trying to get through to someone on their "super-emergency-ultra-efficient-yes-sir-lickety-split" Lost & Stolen Cards hotline, who then proceeded to ask me for the 16-digit number on the front of the card I'd lost
2. My card had almost expired anyway, and the replacement card - sent before I called their hotline - arrived this morning

So what? Well, the replacement they've sent me was created before I reported my card lost. So they've canceled that one, too. I can appreciate the logic; if there's another replacement on the way - the one they said they'd send when I reported the card lost - then surely that's just them being extra-specially efficient, isn't it? Except - er, well - it isn't. The replacement card for my replacement card isn't on it's way. It's kind of a double whammy. They were extra-specially efficient in canceling the card that was sent before I phoned their hotline because it would be superceded by the next one when it arrived. And then they were extra-specially-double-whammy-with-knobs-on efficient when they decided not to send that second replacement card because one was already on its way.

Now, I could be wrong, but I'm sure I've met the guy who wrote that code...

Anyway, to add insult to injury, if you're not reporting your card lost or stolen, there's no option on their customer service hotline to speak to a real person. As with many banks these days, this service has now been buried under a mountain of menu options. So I had to report my card lost again just so I could inform them that the replacement card they'd sent me couldn't be activated. It was then that the chap helpfully told me that it had been canceled, and that there was no replacement card on the way.

I think it was Douglas Adams who wrote about technology that "could never go wrong". When something "can never go wrong", inevitably:

1. It immediately does go wrong, and
2. There's no contingency allowed for fixing it when it does

It never occured to the credit card company, when they designed their call centre systems, to include a menu option for customers "who have reported their card lost or stolen just before it was due to expire anyway while a replacement card is already on its way in the mail so we end up canceling that replacement and not sending the other replacement, thus leaving the customer with no card at all". No, that one seems to have slipped through the cracks...
Posted 1 week, 6 days ago on December 12, 2006