Welcome to an online Small Business chat session at Bank of America. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Small Business Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. You are number 1 in a queue of 1. Thank you for your patience.
You are now chatting with Jan . Welcome to Bank of America. How can I help you complete your online application today?
Jan : Hello! Welcome to our Small Business Chat where I will be happy to help you find the best accounts that fit your business needs. How can I help you to get started today?
you: Hi I don’t understand why the system will not accept the promotional code SBFOL2.
Jan : That is for the banking center. I will be happy to provide you an offer code.
Jan : May I ask you for your state?
you: Sure, CA. This isn’t the Banking Center?
Jan : And which checking account you are applying for?
you: In response to an offer of up to $220 or something like that
Jan : Online the incentive is $100
Jan : The promotional code is C100BUS
Jan : You may visit our local banking center as well for their offer.
you: it’s just a straight forward $100 for opening a standard business account? No additional or hidden obligations?
Jan : That is all. The $100 will be deposited to the new account within 50 days
you: Okay. This was an internet offer though, that says that it will be honored online or in a brick-and-mortar bank.
Jan : At this time, the offer code does not work online.
you: That’s false representation to the detriment of the consumer. This is a currently advertised offer by Bank of America which explicitly represents that the offer is available online or in a physical bank.
you: a.k.a. deceptive advertising practices.
Jan : May I ask if you received a flyer?
Jan : You may apply at the banking center for this offer.
you: Yes I did, and you keep repeating that. By banking center do you mean a physical bank location?
you: This language is from the promotional flyer:
Jan : Yes I do
you: 1 Offer expires 1/18/2008 and is available in any Bank of America banking center or online when this referral form is presented at the time of account opening. To receive any of the offers described, the referee/new customer must not be a current business checking customer and the new checking account must remain open until we can verify its eligibility, which generally takes no more than 90 days. The referee/new customer is not eligible for this offer if they were a signer on a Bank of America business checking account that was closed within the last three months.
you: Don’t miss out. This offer ends on 1/18/2008. The OFFER CODE found in this email must be used when applying online or in a banking center. Offer Code: SBFOL2
Jan : Offer expires 1/18/2008 and is available in any Bank of America banking center or online when this referral form is presented at the time of account opening.
Jan : I agree that online should not be on there
you: That doesnt help us much.
Jan : But the form needs to be presented at the time you open the account which is not an option online.
Jan : May I ask you for your state?
you: I am in California. I would imagine that entering the code is the functional equivalent of presenting the offer since Bank of America explicitly represents in multiple places that the offer is available BOTH online and in a bank.
Jan : At this time the offer code is not in the system to accept online.
Jan : Since the letter is needed to be presented at the time the account is opened, you may visit our local banking center .
you: Okay Jan, let me share the legal doctrine of Contra Proferentem with you. It is a legal rule of contract interpretation that requires that when a term is found to be ambiguous it shall be construed against the party that drafted the offer. That is, the preferred interpretation will be the one that works in favor of the party who did not draft the offer.
Jan : I am not able to make any changes to the application so it will accept this code.
Jan : You will have a better chance of getting this amount at the banking center.
you: In this case, that means that when Bank of America drafts an offer that represents that an offer is available online, and there is some kind of ambiguity, then a court of law will interpret that against Bank of America.
Jan : Okay
you: And you have a better chance of making Bank of America liable for deceptive advertising practices and fraudulent representation by refusing to see this as something you need to resolve.
Jan : Is there anything else I can help you with today?
you: I’m sorry, I don’t see where I’ve been rude or disrespectful, and it’s quite impossible for me to raise my voice, so I’m having difficulty understanding your decision to deflect my unresolved question with the suggestion that you’ve helped me with anything at all, yet.
you: May I ask if you are a computer program or a human being?
Jan : I am real just as you are.
you: Okay, that was a serious question and it wasn’t meant to give offense. I’m really at a loss here. I’ve been a Bank of America personal checking customer for my entire adult life, and something which is meant to strengthen our relationship (mine and Bank of America’s. not yours and mine, obviously) is going to end like this? Surely there is a chapter in the customer service manual that advises you to take a different course of action here.
Jan : This is a sales channel which means that we do not have access to systems or applications.
Jan : I do not have the authority to change online procedures.
you: Nor to comply with them, apparently.
Jan : Since this is an offering at the banking center, you will be able to apply and get the incentive
Jan : Online the incentive is $100.
Jan : If you would like for me to stand by as you complete the application, I will be happy to.
you: This is not merely an offer at a banking center. Have you been following our chat conversation?
Jan : Yes I have
you: May I ask how many people you are chatting with concurrently?
Jan : Just you.
an : If you would like to complete the online application, please feel free to use the offer code C100BUS for $100.
Jan : The online application form for business accounts requires all applicants (new or current customers):
Jan : -To have a registered business,
Jan : -To be 18 or older,
Jan : -To be a US citizen,
Jan : -To have a US physical street address (not a PO Box),
Jan : -To have a Social Security Number.
Jan : Do you meet all of these?
you: Yes. I meet each of your requirements.
Jan : Great! You may complete the online application for your new small business accounts.
you: So, comments like those are what lead me to suspect that you might be some complex arrangement of “1″s and “0″s.
Jan : Okay
Jan : What else may I assist you with today?
you: Is it that you don’t believe that the offer from Bank of America that I have here actually says what I cut and pasted and shared with you, in an attempt to resolve my problem?
Jan : I wish I could assist you further. We do not have a way to make the code work. If you want the offer of $220, please visit our banking center. If you want to apply online, please use C100BUS.
you: I understand that to be a clear feature of your proposed solution. I’m curious what you see as your obligation beyond when we click-off to work to remedy this deceptive advertising practice that Bank of America is at this very moment employing. See, as an agent of Bank of America that limits your ability to throw your virtual hands in the air and type that “its wrong, too bad.”
Jan : I will be sure management is aware that “online” is in the flyer you received.
you: In several places, so that it is not the case that this is a typo, but rather that it constitutes a fundamental feature of the offer. It is how Bank of America intended its message to be understood by the consumer, in the hope that consumers would rely upon that offer, and go online to apply (a much more likely occurrence than going into a bank these days), only to discover after completing the application process that the offer code has been rejected by the system. Then, when the confused consumer clicks to chat, they are offered a significantly reduced benefit and told (in rather blunt and unapologetic terms) that’s the offer, regardless of what we told you to get you here.
Jan : I do apologize that you feel this way. I will be sure management reviews the offer and sees that it is correct.
Jan : Our intention is to be provide new customers with incentives whether online or at the banking centers.
you: Sure, some will be like me and try to explore resolution in more depth. But many will, out of time constraints and resignation to the world’s many imperfections, take the reduced incentive since they’ve already done all the work. And this is what Bank of America relies upon in its deceptive advertising practice, I wager.
you: Okay. I think I’ve tried as diligently as I possibly (or at least reasonably) could have to give Bank of America the opportunity to respond appropriately. How would one go about getting a transcript of one of these customer service chat conversations?
Jan : You may copy and paste to a word document.
Jan : Is there anything else I can help you with today?
you: I see. So there is no way to authenticate that what I would have if I were to do what you suggest as an actual verifiable chat between Jan and Luke on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 ending somewhere around 3:15 p.m.?
you: I could have just typed up the whole thing myself at home without ever actually having chatted with Jan?
Jan : We appreciate you visiting our Small Business chat and would like to thank you for this opportunity to expand your relationship with Bank of America! Have a wonderful day!
you: If that is the case, do you have an ID number?
you: Jan, you can help me by answering that question.
Jan : My name Jan and there is not an ID number.
you: And does Bank of America make it a practice to only hire one person per name?
Jan : What else may I do to assist you in completing this application?
you: You can tell me how I would differentiate this Jan from any other Jan that might type to customers on behalf of Bank of America.
Jan : May I please have your name and a number you can be reached at?
you: Is there a chat ID or tracking number for this conversation?
Jan : No there is not.
Jan : Thanks again for visiting our chat! Is there anything I can assist you with regarding applying for a new account online?
you: Really? That certainly can’t be industry standard practice. But you’d like *my* name and contact information? Why, I’m “you” clearly. Why isn’t that sufficient to identify me should you need to reference this conversation?
Jan : If you provide me with your name and number I will have an Associate contact you.
Jan : If not, please visit our local banking center.
you: But that isn’t responsive to my question or my concern. Rather, (don’t disconnect yet):
you: I’m concerned about your implied position that, were I to want to look into this further, that would be more or less futile since *this* conversation basically never happened.
you: There is no procedure for emailing me a transcript of this conversation?
you: (for example)
you: Is it that you are thinking of what to type or that you’ve unilaterally decided to disconnect?
Jan : Not at this time.
you: You’re not at this time thinking about what to type or you have not yet disconnected?
Jan : There is no procedure for emailing me a transcript of this conversation? Response: Not at this time.
You are being transferred to an automated process because you exhibited unacceptable language or behavior.
Bank of America. Higher Standards.
you: Um… hello? Are you there “automated process”? Perhaps you can help me…
[to which there was no response, and, whereupon, at 3:29 p.m. on Wednesday, May 02, 2007, “you” disconnected]