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Portfolio of Eamon Thomas Sisk

When Branding gets in the way of Customer Experience

tagged: branding, UX

I’ve been customer of Chase Bank for nearly four years now but up until recently I’ve only had a checking account with them. When I received my Chase Freedom card it looked a lot like my debit card which is great for identifying that it’s a Chase card but not great for differentiating the two.

If you do a google search for each you’ll see what I mean here and here. While not identical, I’m still required to actually look at the cards to make sure I’m grabbing the one I want to use. The Freedom card also has a green edge as opposed to the debit card which is just blue. Unfortunately, this visual indicator is still not enough in all circumstances. I’ve mistakenly used my Freedom card at an ATM and have paid for it.

I happened to be traveling outside the US with limited access to a phone and internet when this occured. I didn’t think much of it at the time. When the ATM reported that I entered an invalid PIN, I realized my error and switched to my debit card with no problems. It wasn’t until a few days later when I tried to use my Freedom card to purchase something and was unable to because Chase put a hold on my card due to ‘suspicious activity’.

Trying to get things cleared up with Chase was pretty painful. I had to spend a considerable amount of time and money try to talk to Chase over a shoddy wifi connection. Dropping calls, dwindling Skype credits (without a card to refill) and a drawn out verification process made for a stressful experience.

Granted, I may be a bit of an extreme case considering I was outside of the US with limited means to communication but I can’t help but wonder how this could’ve been avoided if the cards had more than a green edge to differentiate the two. I’d be interested to know what percentage of Chase customers carry more than one of their cards. Of the number of multiple cardholders, how many have been flagged for inserting the wrong card? How many of the holds Chase places are because of this issue? How much time do their fraud investigators waste on this issue? Should there be an internal system in place for recognizing multiple cardholders and provide cards that reliably differentiate themselves from each other for every additional card a customer signs up for?

While these are questions I cannot answer, I wonder if this is something Chase keeps tabs on. It seems like such a system could potentially save the company a lot of money and at the same time, provide a better customer experience.