Photo of Frustrated Man Holds Head

Amazon and the Unpleasant Synchrony Card Experience

Post Published on August 2, 2021.
Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by davemackey.

I’ve held a few retail (store) cards in my day. I’m particularly fond of them when they offer x% cash back and more generous terms (e.g. lower APR, longer repayment plans, etc.) are nice even if I try to avoid using them. A number of these cards have been managed through Synchrony, formerly GE’s financing arm (now spun-off as a separate entity). Overall the experience has been unremarkable. The Synchrony site management is fairly bland but that’s fine by me. I’m looking for functionality, not a visual experience.

It has always been a bit of a nuisance that the cards have to redirect to GE/Synchrony’s site. If you hold multiple retail cards at the same time and they all use Synchrony behind the scenes one’s password manager tends to become confused. But this is a fairly minor annoyance (though one you’d think they could rectify…).

I try to write here more about what I enjoy than what I don’t…but every once in a while I feel like talking about a negative experience I’ve had with a company / service might result in something positive happening. I know, kind of shocking, who am I? But the power of the internet can make it so.

In any case I’ve had a pretty unpleasant experience with my Amazon Synchrony account the past two months. It happened after I switched cellular carriers. It seems Synchrony (and a few other accounts) decided that my number was no longer valid and reset it to nothing (sweet!). With the others I’ve been able to resolve this with a single phone call – but Synchrony has required two phone calls and both time consuming and frustrating.

Here’s what happens.

  1. I attempt to log into my Amazon Synchrony account.
  2. I’m told that they can’t verify my identity or some such nonsense and that I’ll need to verify my identity via a phone/text message to my phone on file.
  3. The phone number they list as being my account number is one I don’t recognize (maybe a generic place holder value?).
  4. They offer me the option to enter the correct number, which I do, but then instantly refuse to accept it (why offer me the option to provide a number if you will just refuse it?).
  5. I have to call a number they provide, wait on hold, verify my identity (e.g. account number, last four of social, name, etc.), and explain to a representative the problem.
  6. They begin a verification process

The verification process is as follows:

  1. Request my correct phone number.
  2. Send me an SMS message with a web link.
  3. Provide verification information about myself again (name, address, zip, etc.).
  4. Open the web link and record a 5 second video of myself slowly shaking my head from side to side.
  5. Take a photo of the front of my driver’s license.
  6. Take a photo of the back of my driver’s license.
  7. Wait for the system to be happy with my video/photos (if not, go back to step 4).
  8. Receive a confirmation code (fairly lengthy, alphanumeric).
  9. Provide confirmation code to representative.
  10. Log out of all open Synchrony sessions.
  11. Representative overrides verification.
  12. I’m now able to log in.

Doing this once is annoying (and a waste of time) but now I’ve had to do it two times and according to the representative the issue is that it takes them 30-60 days to update the number for verification purposes (even though it shows as updated in my account). This means I could end up doing this again in another thirty days.

At this point I’ve invested nearly 30 mins on the phone with representatives. I know, it isn’t that much. But what if I changed that time into money?

Below is how much that time is “worth” based on how much you make hourly:

  • $10/hr = $5
  • $20/hr = $10
  • $30/hr = $15
  • $40/hr = $20
  • $50/hr = $25
  • $../hr = $??

We’d probably feel a bit more irritated if they charged us $x for their mistake – right?

So, dear Amazon and Synchrony, please get it together. Thanks.

Sidebar on Expectations

I know I may come across as a bit of a grump in this post…and maybe I am. However I’d like to explain some caveats to my approach:

  1. My expectations decrease as the size of the business decreases. e.g., what annoys me about a large, multinational corporation I’m much more ready to accept from a smaller company.
  2. My frustration is not with (usually) the individuals I interact with but with the larger corporate entity – which certainly has the assets to do better.
  3. I’m particularly frustrated when core functionality fails and that isn’t functionality that shows similar failures from similar businesses.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

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