After more than three weeks, I was finally able to get my missing transfer from Coinbase taken care of. It was a simple fix but it took more than three weeks, constant follow up, opening a case with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and having a Coinbase “specialist” get involved. All I needed was a trace number so my bank could find the in-limbo funds. Was it really necessary to go through all of that just to get a trace number that could have been provided in the first request for support? I don’t think so.
Thinking about service
It seems the customer-is-king notion is falling by the wayside as tech companies grow larger and larger and feel that if they burn a few customers, that is not going to affect the bottom line. While that may be true to some extent, I hate to admit that, these companies are operating in the wild west of crypto are ultimately deciding the future rules and regulations to come down, based on their actions and the actions of their customers.
Cold, robot-like emails
Coinbase does have a phone line for support but that is reserved for compromised accounts, so you have to endure scripted-response emails from a no-name support person (robot?), who is most likely working remote without easy access to supervisors. While I was dealing with my issue, here is an example of the emails I had to ensure:
Thank you for contacting Coinbase Support.
I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
For sells or withdrawals, we initiate the transfer of funds from our bank to yours and the process takes 3–5 business days but may take up no later than 10 business days from the time that you have initiated the withdrawal.
We would love to process your funds faster, but we are dependent on the speed of our traditional financial system, which is an external bank process that Coinbase doesn’t have control with. We’re always researching new ways to make transfers faster while still maintaining safety (both yours and ours), security and convenience.
Thank you for bearing with us.
I got that email or a similarly worded one about four times.
It was only after I opened a claim with BBB and then threatened to open up a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), was a specialist finally involved.
I sincerely apologize for the delay getting back to you on this case.
Having investigated the issue, I am working with a specialist to address it properly.
We will follow-up with you as soon as we have an update.
Thank you for your patience, and for choosing Coinbase!
I then waited three days and had to email them again to get the following email that finally resolved the problem:
Your withdrawal has completed on our end. Below is the trace number for your funds.
Please [contact] your bank’s customer support line and explain that you have funds missing and give them the trace number. They should be able to locate your funds and forward them to your personal account.
They must have been really annoyed with me because they did not use my name in the salutation, nor did they sign off with the customer support signature.
CFPB is full of complaints and so is BBB
The CFPB is, according to Reddit, much better at getting Coinbase to take action to resolve issues. Here is a list of the more than 2,600 complaints filed against Coinbase, for which many are for funds not received or missing funds.
Checking out the BBB, they have given Coinbase an F rating with more than 1,500 complaints against the company. Coinbase also has more than 450 open complaints that have not even responded to.
While Coinbase did go through growing pains over the past year as their customer base expanded by some three mln, the CEO Brian Armstrong, pledged to grow customer support. While they hired more support specialists to tackle the growing mountain of customer issues, using email as a medium of support without any personalization does not do the customer any justice. A good, old-fashioned phone call can clear problems faster than emails in many complex cases.
Alternatives exist but also suffer from poor customer support
After becoming so irate with Coinbase, it was only natural that I sought out alternatives. I opened an account with Gemini, founded by the Winklevoss twins in 2015, and have so far been pleased with its service.
Compared to Coinbase’s 10 million users, Gemini does not have its user base readily available. I did look into the reviews on BBB and found that Gemini also has an F rating from the BBB as they never responded to any of the complaints, only 15, filed against them. It appears that in mid to late 2017, when the exchange was just getting started, they were suffering from frozen funds and misplaced money. I was unable to find any recent complaints.
Gemini, too, only has support via email, to its detriment.
Suggestions for a better customer experience
When it comes to handling other people’s money it is best to do so in a quick effective manner. If there is any question in the mind of the customer about where their money is, it is best to address it quickly and with full details about the situation.
If a customer is missing a deposit and sends a request for help, a proper response would include the following:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing you
here is what we know so far, here is what we are working on for you
here are codes and numbers that may assist in this matter
my name is X and I will be assisting you on this matter
here is a case number
here is a phone number for expedited/personalized support
These are small and rather easy things to implement in the customer support process. I know if I got an email with the above in response to my issue, I would be able to feel secure that someone is diligently working to resolve this issues and if need to reach out to someone for more help, a dedicated person is there to help.
It’s a little that can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction.