Friday, September 23, 2011

Perspective: Penny-wise, Pound-foolish

I have some recent (behavioral) evidence that many corporate executives are skimping on IT resources in the short term, risking eventual loss of business or higher costs over time.  This certainly falls in the category of perspective.

Today I picked up the mail and opened an envelope from my doctor’s office.  It was a bill for zero dollars.  It told me what I already knew, that I didn’t owe them any more money for my recent visit, but costing them for the printing, the postage and the enclosed return envelope that I didn’t’ need.

Earlier in the day I received 3 identical e-mails from my broker telling me that my profile had changed.  (I changed from my current listed bank to the one that sends me two identical e-mails at the same time every month reminding me to balance my checkbook.)  The brokerage is very careful in these cases and sends two small test deposits to the new bank.  I looked at the bank website and found the two deposits in my checking account.  So far, so good.  Then I returned to the brokerage site to confirm and was told to come back in a couple days after they made the deposits.  Apparently they were not yet aware that the deposits were made.  Somebody’s programs are not talking to each other.

The reason for the above change is that I am ending my relationship with the bank that was originally listed with the broker.  At this bank every time I come in and they look up my account and say, “I just signed you up for next quarter’s bonus points!” – like they are starting off by doing me a big favor.  Then I tell them that I already signed up and wonder why their PC doesn’t indicate it.  If they said, “I see you are already signed up,” at least I would think they are on the ball, however, when I checked later at home, it is very difficult to get that information, so they just sign me up whenever I talk to them.  (This, by the way, is the credit card that I was issued two of and just got one cancelled when I received a solicitation for another identical one in the mail – another case of programs not communicating.)  But I digress.  The reason I went to the bank was to transfer out my IRA and, not wanting any trouble from the IRS, I specifically asked for a check made out to the new bank showing me as FBO (for the benefit of).  They told me that their computer wouldn’t do that without a transfer request from the receiving bank, which would take longer than the 10-day grace period.  (And they wonder why I’m changing banks!)  So I have a rollover instead of a transfer, which means that each bank (or each bank’s computer) must send me an additional tax form.

Finally, in the process of checking on the bonus-points question, I noticed that the department store where I ordered a wedding present on line is about to bill me twice, once on the day I submitted the order and again on the day they shipped it. 

I hope all these companies are saving a bundle from off-shoring, because they are losing a lot of goodwill by this display of incompetence to their customers.

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