Bank of America Calls Woman Highly Offensive Name... Then Apologizes
The following is a tale of how even a century-old institution like Bank of America can successfully negotiate a potential social media firestorm -- unfortunately, the same cannot be said for JPMorgan Chase.
Here are the basic facts. On February 6, a California writer received a credit card offer from Bank of America. It was addressed to "Lisa Is A Slut McIntire." To be clear, her first name is "Lisa" and her last name is "McIntire." But while we don't know her actual middle name, it seems relatively clear that it's not "Is A Slut."
For the rest, I'll defer to the Twitter conversation that ensued...
@LisaMcIntire We're incredibly sorry this happened and are researching now so we can take the appropriate action. ^bm— Bank of America (@BofA_Help) February 6, 2014
Judging from the amount of time @BofA_Help is taking to call me back, they are assembling the legal dream team of the century.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
All right, kiddos, gather around. I shall now tell you how I came to receive a credit card offer for "Lisa Is A Slut McIntire."— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
First, I received phone call from a very sincere, very apologetic woman named Melissa Leitzell, VP of Communications for @Golden_Key.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
She went through, in exquisite detail, all of the timestamps of changes made to my @Golden_Key account since 2001.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
Based on the information she was able to get from IT, the "offensive language" (her term) was input between 2004 and 2008.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
They haven't been able to pinpoint how "Is A Slut" became my middle name, but they're still investigating.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
I'm on the phone with Melissa Leitzell when BofA finally called. And again, I want to emphasize how genuine and helpful Leitzell was.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
I then call back BofA and speak to Max White, a "senior advocate" with the office of the CEO and president.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
White was also very apologetic and took responsibility for the action.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
Apparently, BofA will flag more traditional curse words, according to White, but "slut" is not one of them!— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
Honestly, I felt bad that neither person I spoke to on the phone could bring themselves to say "slut." Not that I blame them!— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
Anyway, Max White said he'd also look into it, but at that point, I already knew that the mystery middle name originated with @Golden_Key.— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) February 7, 2014
In short, McIntire was inducted into an honor society known as Golden Key. Someone inputting her information at said honor society appears to have made the changes sometime between 2004 and 2008. The information was then transferred to Bank of America, which automatically generated a credit card application for McIntire with the unfortunate handle.
Given the media firestorm that erupted soon after McIntire posted her first message, it's actually quite impressive that Bank of America was able to quarantine the potential problem as well as it did -- to be fair, it probably helps that McIntire had a sense of humor about the ordeal.
More critically, however, it shows just how important it is for companies -- particularly consumer-facing ones like the Charlotte-based bank -- to proactively participate in social media channels. In this day and age, brand matters. And in this day and age, a brand can suffer almost immediate and irreparable damage from exchanges like the one above if they're not managed adroitly.
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The article Bank of America Calls Woman Highly Offensive Name... Then Apologizes originally appeared on Fool.com.John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Bank of America. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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