Drawing The Line With Poor Customer Service

Last year, I wrote a breakup letter to Chase Bank. It was pretty ugly. I'll save you the heartbreaking details, but trust me, they had it coming.

Closing the account was another nightmare. They wouldn't let me break up with them! They told me I couldn't close the account because my signature on the request form did not match the signature they had on file. An understandable concern, but I'd been signing my name as either a squiggly line or “The Hawk,” for the past few years, so I don't really understand why my signature had suddenly become so important.

It took months. But my account was finally closed, and I've been recovering nicely since the breakup. I'm in a new relationship with a financial institution that I can trust, depend on and, most importantly, I rarely have to call for anything.

Before and since then, I've had plenty of other issues with banks, organizations and institutions. There was the $2.00 fee some ATM company charged me even though their machine was broken. There was the totally disputable $100 traffic ticket. And the list goes on, as I'm sure it does for you, too.

These issues cost us more than the charge itself. They cost us time, sanity and, oftentimes, grace (Chase's customer service really brought out the worst in me).

The other day, I was on the phone, on hold, about that aforementioned $2.00 ATM fee. While listening to ABBA's “Dancing Queen,” I took the phone away from my ear to see how long I'd been waiting. Twenty minutes.

I hung up. I felt myself getting frustrated, and I let it go. Maybe this wasn't the most frugal thing to do, but then again, maybe it was - after all, your time is valuable, too. And in that moment, I decided that my time was worth more than $2.00.

My point is this - and it's not exactly a point, really, but a question: Where do you draw the line? How much of a fight do you put up before you decide that the customer service battle is just not worth it?

Financial justice vs. letting it go

Regarding those two dollars, my mom would have probably told me to stay on the phone. “It's the principle,” she would likely say. But I wonder if that principle has any place in getting rich slowly. The mind-set of working to get what is owed to you certainly has its roots in frugality, but if your time and sanity are valuable, then isn't wasting it on two dollars sort of defeating the purpose of frugality?