In order to serve you better: Chase resets your marketing preferences


Whenever a company says "In order to serve you better", you can be pretty sure they're about to do something that will make your life more miserable.

This time, I'm going to call out Chase Financial Services, who recently sent out notices to customers who had specified that they did not want to receive marketing materials informing them that they now have greater control over which marketing materials they will receive, and the default is that they will receive everything. Strange, you'd think that if somebody said, "Don't send me marketing materials," then they probably meant "Don't send me marketing materials," and therefore that the translation of this into a "fine-grained control" is "no to everything." Because that's how they've interpreted it up until now anyway.

Of course, the real reason they did this is to reset all their customer's preferences so they can start sending them advertising again. Notice that your opt-out choice must be renewed every five years. Hey, at least it's better than having to reiterate your preferences every three months like some companies require.

Comments (17)
  1. Matthieu says:

    They are very smart… :-(

  2. Don’t get me started on marketing stuff.  Just the other night I got a call from an auto-dialer at American Express.  It informed me "there are no available agents to speak to you at this time, but if you’d like to speak to an agent you can call us back at ###."  Huh, why is the computer still dialing numbers if there are no agents to connect it too?

  3. John says:

    I propose we put all marketers on a space ship and rocket them directly into the sun.

  4. Wesha says:

    Huh, why is the computer still dialing numbers if there are no agents to connect it too?

    The problem is that, to optimize the process, the software dials you by the time it expects the agent to finish the conversation (so the agent will be connected with you and can start talking immediately, rather than twiddling his thumbs through the dial sequence). Unsurprisingly, its predictions are only 95% accurate, so welcome to the unfortunate 5%.

  5. bramster says:

    One I’ve seen. . .   "For your convenience this wicket is closed"

  6. Mikkin says:

    Huh, why is the computer still dialing numbers if there are no agents to connect it too?

    It is called anticipatory dialing. In order to serve you better, the autodialer assumes that an agent will become available by the time you pick up. That way you do not get a cranky agent who has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to serve you.

    This practice used to result in a lot of dead calls: "Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?" Some jurisdictions now have laws, not banning the practice, but limiting the percentage of calls left hanging more than a limited time.

    The recorded message is serving you twice as well by predialing aggressively and avoiding a dead line rule at the same time.

  7. Marty Fried says:

    I regret ever getting a Chase credit card. They call constantly (several eper week), and some of the agents are pushy and rude.  I had one tell me "please listen and don’t interrupt".  Then, after the spiel about a service to pay my bill if I can’t, I said I had a service, called a savings account.  He hung up on me.  Now I threaten to cancel the card when they call due to too many calls.  And I will, if it keeps up.

  8. DriverDude says:

    "Now I threaten to cancel the card when they call due to too many calls.  And I will, if it keeps up."

    You should. I used to have Sprint long-distance phone service. They kept telemarketing me for the same service even though I was already a customer – and I told their customer service to stop marketing to me. Eventually I canceled my service and never heard from them again.

    Chase doesn’t call me anymore but they keep sending me "convience checks" – great way for mail theives to also steal my money.

  9. Jerry Pisk says:

    Aren’t companies using autodialers required to put a human on the line within 2 seconds of you asking for one? So if Amex is using autodialers without (enough) human backing behind them they’re breaking the rules (maybe even the law, not sure whether this is just something the FCC came up with or if it’s an actual law).

  10. Brad C. says:

    My favorite part is the fact that the letter was sent December 10th.  I heard once that banks know the best times to notify customers of fee increases are August and December, because those two months people are frequently on vacation and may not be able to pay as careful attention to bills.  This letter was very carefully designed to be lost or forgotten during the holiday rush, allowing them months or years worth of "opt-in" direct advertising.

    Shameful and disgusting.

  11. Jivlain says:

    @John:

    Maybe instead we could just declare that we were going to populate a new world, and send them on Spaceship B?

  12. David says:

    One thing I noticed down the bottom of the letter is that if you move house, your marketing preferences get reset again.

    Because, you know, you only opted out because you didn’t have a mailbox that could handle the load before, right?

  13. Lascaille says:

    While I apppreciate your annoyance I think this is totally inevitable; when you have a product that’s hard to enhance, the only way to really generate more business is through marketing, even when you have an enhancable product marketing is often easier than recruiting genuine talent to enhance that product: marketers are ‘people persons’ and are good at (oddly enough) marketing themselves and their ideas, which generally tend to be about the benefits of more marketing.

    Companies will mail and email you a neverending stream of crap because it makes money, and they will also telemarket constantly until it’s made illegal because, despite virtually everyone hating it, it STILL makes money. Most people are passive and somewhat dim; they can be made to buy/spend small increments without a lot of effort.

    To provide some balance, the marketing environment in the USA/UK is fairly oblique compared with the developing world, where entire gameshows on primetime TV literally advertise one product repeatedly for 3 hours straight – and are popular, and when commercial breaks can consist of the exact same 30-second advert repeated 6 times back to back.

  14. Yuhong Bao says:

    "Most people are passive and somewhat dim; they can be made to buy/spend small increments without a lot of effort." And notice that it adds up.

  15. Peter says:

    John: "I propose we put all marketers on a space ship and rocket them directly into the sun."

    That’s an unnecessarily cruel suggestion. I believe the correct etiquette in such situations is to load them onto a spaceship and send them "ahead" of the rest of us to colonise a new world? ;-)

  16. jd2066 says:

    This reminds of when Yahoo introduced it’s marketing preferences a few years ago.

    They did the same thing of resetting all the marketing settings to the default.

  17. They actually are being rolled back.

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