Canceling Credit Cards: Why Not Online?

I recently canceled a couple credit cards and has to go through a tedious phone process to do so. You know the drill. Call the main 800 number, fumble through a horrible phone system, and then find the cancel option as the last possible selection in the option tree. In both cases, this transferred me to someone asking if I was sure I wanted to cancel only to then transfer me to an “account specialist” who would help me further.

So here I am, in the right place. But now, of course, the account specialist needs to talk to me like a concerned mother who can’t believe her child wants new parents. Next comes the onslaught of deals, none of which I’m interested in. Well, there is one deal I could go for, but it happens so rarely: If you can give me 0% interest for 12 months or more with no transfer fee, then I might stick around.

Nowadays, though, everyone (understandably) wants their 3% transfer fee, which eliminates most of the benefit I’d get from shuffling funds to take advantage of a risk-free 5% savings account. If you have good credit, it’s an easy way to make a few hundred bucks while sleeping. But I digress.

The point is more that I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather just have accounts closed that I don’t need or use. But the conversation on the phone is so awkward with these account specialists. How am I supposed to answer the [what feels like] never-ending stream of questions like, “Is there anything we could have done better?”

I even had one guy ask me “which credit card do you use consistently and why?” What the? I didn’t sign up for a focus group, I just wanna cancel my damn credit card! And now, somehow, I’m the bad guy if I want to cut the crap and push for what I want. So why can’t I do this online? Anything else I might have done by mail or phone in a different century (for my credit card) I now do online. But not this.

I know the obvious answer to my question above. Having account specialists force awkward conversations in the hopes of retaining customers is probably a small price to pay for keeping customers. I wonder, though, what the value is (to a company) of customers leaving with respect for the company rather than leaving annoyed.

  • I 100% agree! If someone wants to get rid of a credit card, why should it take the better part of an hour, not to mention that it dings your credit? We just end up putting our unwanted cards in a drawer. It's easier.

  • That's funny, Tom, because we do the cards-in-a-drawer thing too! But every couple of years I figure it's time to make the divorce official. The weird thing is that even though it can only waste my time and hurt my credit score, it still feels satisfying…

  • bkalb

    Hey Bob. I like the new website so far, and just registered. I actually cancelled a Circuit City credit card last month (Can't remember which company's card is was though). Cancelling was actually pretty simple. A lot of times with the automated phone systems if you hit “0” enough times you'll go straight to a person. From there I just had to say “no thank you” sternly a couple of times and it was done with. I have in the past though had more difficult experiences. One other thing I'd really like to hear about from someone is the American Express platinum card. I just signed up for one after years of being a gold card holder and tossing the platinum offers in the shredder. What caught my attention was the claim that you can get free companion airfare on some of the major airlines and complementary room upgrades at hotels. I was skepitcal and never did it because of the atrocious annual fee ($450) but called and talked them into cutting it in half for the first year. Figured I'll give it a shot and if I can save $450 in airfare and hotel rooms over the next year I'll keep it, and if not, I'll get rid of it. If anyone has any experience with this card I'd like to hear about it. There is a lot of blog-talk out there which seems to be split 50/50 on the card.

  • Hi Brady, good to hear from you. You're canceling experiences sound much
    nicer than mine. Even when I was able to get straight to a person, it
    was rarely the right person (the “retention” department has to help,
    apparently). Anyway, about the AMEX Platinum card… haven't tried it,
    but I do have an AMEX Hilton card, which has no annual fee. I run my
    whole life through the thing and get a few free nights a year at
    whatever Hilton I want. For no annual fee I can't complain.

  • kalll

    You have an interesting way of seeing things, I won't deny that you are mostly right but everything you experience here is pure marketing and it's not meant to annoy you. As an option you could tell them what bothers you, they should know how to listen.

  • i think, maybe online sometimes got risky

  • I gave the same suggestion to one of my friends, who works with a bank, card dept. My question was why it is so easy to get a card, and similarly difficult enough to get it cancel. Why cant I just do this all online and this will even save your resource cost. I mean even if the want feed back they can put a simple form with 5, 7 or so question with bullets to answer.

  • My thoughts exactly…

  • My thoughts exactly…