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Annoy Customers – Lesson From MBNA

By Sean | December 8, 2010

I called MBNA one of my credit card providers to sort out a problem I’d become aware of.

The representative I spoke with did something so common in the marketplace that most of us tend to think a business is in the right when they accuse us of a crime or of lying without evidence to support it.

The simplest example of this was when I tried to return a mop to a grocery store in California. I had the receipt somewhere my car but didn’t want the hassle of searching for it.

She demanded that I produce a receipt insisting that I may be lying about where I bought it. I turned to the cashier and said “you know me” and looked her in the eye. She intervened and they gave me the refund.

What astonished me is not that they had a policy of “no receipt no refund” — because that doesn’t accuse anyone of anything — it’s just a policy. What I find unpleasant is when employees suggest that I might be defrauding them and that I must prove my innocence before they’ll help me.

And this is what an MBNA employee did yesterday. She cast doubt on whether or not I’d actually received a letter they’d sent even though I told her otherwise. Why is our society so prone to accusing people without probable cause (some kind of evidence) that you actually did something wrong?

Why are we prone to accepting that sort of communication from people as a reasonable argument? What they are essentially saying is “because you cannot prove your innocence the reasonable default position is that you are guilty”.

In our society we “say” that justice is best served by presuming innocence unless compelling evidence of guilt exists. But why do we act otherwise? Even my own family members have been prone to believe they have a right to presume guilt because they have a suspicion someone is guilty.

The press and other media promote “guilt by suspicion” making billions from it every day. Yet there is not one of us wants that done to us — why do we do it to customers who trusted us with their money?

Isn’t the fact that they trusted us with their money sufficient to give them the benefit of the doubt when there is reasonable doubt?

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