The Bank That Changed Its Customer’s Password


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Steve Jetley, a customer of Lloyds TSB bank, was unhappy with the service he received. So, he set his online banking password as “Lloyds is pants” (‘pants’ is UK slang for ‘useless’).

A mischievous employee altered it to “no we are not”.

So, Jetley tried an alternative – “Barclays is better”. The bank refused it.

Jetley then tried “censorship”. The bank refused to allow that, too, saying it was too many letters.

The rebel customer compromised with a six letter word which implied the bank was cr*p.

Lloyds then said there are new rules that say numbers have to be used, so the word was unacceptable.

Don’t you think that someone – either the customer or the bank – should have said “Thank you and goodbye: you/I am no longer a customer” before the farce unravelled to this stage?

It wouldn’t have been as amusing, though, I suppose.

The serious learning points:

  1. Unhappy customers become saboteurs.
  2. Baiting them doesn’t help.
  3. Finding out why they are unhappy makes more sense.
  4. If the relationship has completely broken down and you can’t fix it for them, say goodbye.

Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher was passed a complaining note from a serial complaining customer. It had passed up the chain of command and no one knew how to respond to the customer, as all previous responses to her complaints had done nothing to appease her. So, one of his colleagues wrote “This one’s for you” or something like that on the letter and passed it to the CEO.

The letter explained why the passenger would never fly with Southwest again. The things she wanted them to do so that she would fly with them again were outside Southwest’s low-cost strategy. It took the then CEO one minute to pass back a hand-written note to send to the customer: “Dear Mrs. Crabapple. We will miss you. Love, Herb.”

Source: The bank customer story was in the Times of London last week. The Kelleher anecdote is from Kevin and Jackie Freiberg’s book, Nuts!

Phil Dourado
Author, Speaker, Independent Consultant
Founding editor of Customer Service Management Journal in the United States, and of its companion title, Customer Service Management Journal (now rebranded as Customer Management Magazine) in the United Kingdom. He is the author of The 6 Second Leader (Capstone, John Wiley & Sons, 27).


  1. Phil,

    I thoroughly agree with your main point, which is that there are times when customer and vendor need to just part ways. But when I first heard about the Lloyd’s incident last week, I was less concerned about the customer and rep getting into a war of words than why, in this day and age, the rep had access to the customer’s password. Having taken a computer programming course or two, I know that you can actually capture and set passwords without their being visible to anyone. So how, exactly, did the rep ever even know what the customer’s password was?

    But even to your main point, I think sometimes businesses are too quick to cut what they think as troublesome customers without looking into what the customers’ beefs are. Perhaps in solving that one customer’s problem, an organization can actually improve the customer experience for many other people.

    Gwynne Young, Managing Editor, CustomerThink


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