“How to Lose Customers” an idiot’s guide, courtesy of The Halifax Bank

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology” – H.L. Mencken

Forgive me for trotting out one of my favourite quotations again, but it pops into my head almost every time I am screwed around by a bank.

We all know the smug wretches who run these shambolic rip-off factories are obscenely overpaid. Some were involved in the scams that led to the last economic collapse and should be in jail. But we sigh, and accept this as part of the filthy alliance between them and the politicians.

No; what really drives me crazy is their sheer incompetence. Even First Direct who get far higher marks than the others can fail – as when their fraud detectors stopped me drawing money in New York even though I had told them I would be there on certain dates.

But Halifax, who will probably be losing my business shortly, seem to be exceptionally clueless. Recently I spent a choleric few minutes when I learned my card had been declined not for a specific reason, but just because “there’s a lot more fraud about”. As a result I found I had not, as I imagined, paid for two airline tickets between New York and London.

Ask yourself this: a customer of long standing to whom you have extended up to £35,000 credit flies between those two cities 4 -5 times a year, every year. One day he uses his card to buy two more tickets.

Even assuming you have the intelligence of a 5 year old would you conclude this latest transaction was fraudulent?

(Victim shakes head and wanders off into corner sighing).


About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.

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