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Credit card lenders operate in a tightly regulated industry with strict rules governing how they market their products, and rightly so.
Unfortunately the regulations don’t extend to laying down rules for improving the UX of their websites.
Having paid off my Tesco credit card sometime ago I thought it about time that I cancelled it so I’m not tempted to plunge myself back into further debt.
Considering the ease with which I signed up to the credit card in the first place, I naively assumed it would be equally simple to rid myself of the unwanted contract. How wrong I was.
I will go on to detail the shoddy customer experience offered by the Tesco credit card site, but by way of comparison I’ve also looked several other lenders to see how easy it is to find the information required to opt out of their services.
To be clear, I was fully expecting to have to call Tesco’s customer service department in order to cancel my credit card, however I thought that the site would at least make it easy to find the correct phone number...
I’ve scoured the various account options on the Tesco website and can find no mention of the cancellation policy.
Even the ‘Manage your account’ section offers no indication as to how customers can leave.
Searching for ‘cancel’, ‘cancel my credit card’ or ‘cancellation policy’ within credit cards is equally useless.
These are the top five results if you search ‘cancellation policy’ in the FAQ section for credit cards:
Eventually I was forced to give up on trying to find any answers online and just called the customer service department instead.
In the FAQs section of the NatWest credit card site a search for ‘cancel’ recovers information on the cancellation of direct debits and standing orders rather than the actual card.
In fairness though it’s likely that these are more common questions so the results could be based on user behaviour.
A search for ‘cancel credit card’ brings back the required information as the top result.
I couldn’t find a search tool on the Halifax website so had to navigate around using the various tabs.
I eventually located the cancellation information under the ‘Using your credit card’ tab within the ‘existing customers’ section of the site. It took a few minutes of browsing before I found the telephone number and to be honest I expected to find the information under the ‘managing your credit card’ tab.
Sainsbury’s website is extremely user-friendly and offers a great FAQ section for credit cards, but I couldn’t find any mention of how to cancel or close an account.
However Sainsbury’s does have a search function in the top corner which links to a Q&A pop-up that reveals the phone number that want-away customers have to call.
Santander has all the information you need online, housed within the ‘How do I?’ section. I think this is a neat bit of copywriting as it’s more descriptive than ‘FAQ’.
The ‘close an account’ tab gives users the phone numbers they need to call to cancel credit cards, savings or current accounts.
However it’s worth pointing out that Santander’s search tool wasn’t much use. The top results for ‘cancel a credit card’ didn’t answer my question, while two of them even had the same title.
This obviously wasn’t a comprehensive analysis of the credit card industry, but from this small sample it does appear that more can be done to inform customers of the steps they need to take to cancel a credit card.
Tesco offers the least assistance in this area, while the other lenders could also do more to improve the user experience.
In my opinion one of the main problems is the language used by the banks and other lenders. Consumers talk about ‘cancelling’ credit cards, whereas the websites all refer to ‘closing’ credit card accounts.
When was the last time you heard someone say they were going to “close my credit card”?
It may irk the credit card companies to admit that their customers are choosing to cancel the service, but it would certainly improve the UX and make the process a lot less frustrating.