Lee Odden

A Story of US Bank Visa Losing Yet Another Customer

Lee Odden     Rant

[Start Rant]

Anyone in the search biz who knows me, knows I’m a pretty easy going person and sometimes even rational. 🙂 My experience with usbank Visa both in the past and today trying to buy a product online and later a domain name transfer gave me a good taste of the unreasonable way seemingly reasonable companies are serving customers. And making it difficult to stay on as customers.

First, I attempted to purchase a product I was planning to use as a prize for a contest at our office. I should have just had Amie take care of this stuff, but I thought it would only take a few seconds like most of the monthly online purchases I make. However, in this case, the online merchant checkout screen said there was a problem with the usbank Visa.

I called usbank Visa and the auto attendant directs me to some balance info: zero. In fact, there’s a credit. OK. As the computerish auto attendant rambles a myriad of options, I say “operator “. A live person comes on the line and I explain the “no go” purchase. I’m informed that all online transactions are flagged and that I have to call the merchant to get an authorization code. “ALL online purchases? For everyone that tries to use a Visa to purchase online?”, I say. “Yes”, says the Visa CSR. The Visa CSR’s answer seems so outlandish I am literally speechless, which is probably a good thing.

“You’ll have to call the web site and make the transaction manually”, says the Visa rep. With many other pressing things to do, I relent without a debate and resolve myself to purchase the item with another card later or just stop by a retailer on my way home.

With the registered trademark status on TopRank, we’ve been reaching out to companies using the name and exercising our right to soley use the name in a search marketing or online marketing context. One company decided to just sell us the domain name.

An hour after the usabank Visa situation above, I initiated an online transfer request on the domain name. The registrar’s online payment screen displayed a message that the usbank Visa had a problem. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding,” and wondering, “Why am I not having one of our capable staff handle this again?”. I called Visa, got an operator and asked what was up. I was then informed that online purchases were being flagged.

I told the rep I was trying to transfer a domain name and that I had to do it online. Her response was, “What’s a domain name”? “Visa.com is a domain name” I said, losing my faith in the potential for a reasonable outcome.

I attempted to use a little logic with the rep who was becoming snotty. “OK, just so we understand each other, I’m trying to order online because I don’t want to or cannot call the online merchant and you’re telling me online orders are flagged for potential fraud and that I have to call the online merchant and conduct the transaction manually, which is what I’m trying to avoid in the first place. Does this make sense to you?”

The clearly annoyed CSR rep repeated the script on the screen in front of her. Something about, “We are sorry for the in-con-veeeen-ience sir, it is only for your protection….”. “But does this make any sense to you at all?”, I asked. The CSR relented and raised the “flag” on the purchase so the transaction would go through. I appreciated this and asked if I would have to go through the same process every time I tried to order online, because my other credit cards didn’t work this way.

The usbank Visa rep then threw out the clincher: “Sir, there’s no reason for you to get upset, our policy states that ………”. I had to put the phone down for a second and smile, and noticed two ice houses on the frozen lake outside my office window. One with an old fashioned TV antennae attached to the roof and one with a satellite dish. I bet snotty usbank Visa CSRs were the last thing on their minds.

There was no yelling, no raised voice, no accusations, just a naive attempt at a rational conversation. Silly me. I said goodbye and hung up.

It seems a bit odd that one company has such a hard time with what appears to be an overzealous online fraud protection effort, which in spirit, sounds great. But in practice, it makes using their product extremely inconvenient.

Everyone else at our company with a corporate credit card moved from usbank Visa to another credit card company because of situations like this. I am the sole holdout because of the airline miles connected to the card and because I like being loyal to companies I do business with.

Situations like that mentioned above have happened several times before in the past year with usbank Visa . There comes a time when a loyal customer like myself has to throw in the towel and finally take the hint that the hindrances far exceed any benefits. It’s time to change. If I change, I’ll just end up getting better service elsewhere. If usbank Visa would change, they’re probably keep more of their customers.

Now I wouldn’t want anyone linking to this post with anchor text like “usbank Visa sucks” or anything like that, so please don’t. I am however, curious if others have had similar situations with usbank Visa or other CC companies where “all online purchases are flagged”?

[/End Rant]

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I get a lot of calls from my credit card security department (First Card Visa) due to my unusual online purchasing activity (frequent domain purchases and plenty of small Paypal transactions). However, they’ve never prevented me from making a purchase nor have I ever had a problem such as you described.

    “What’s a Domain Name?”…gotta remember that one:.)

  2. Boy am I a glutton for punishment. I tried ordering from walmart.com and it was flagged again. USBank Visa reps told me to have someone from walmart.com call Visa in order to say it was ok for my card to pay Walmart. How nuts is that????

  3. Avatar Joe Beaulaurier says

    Hi Lee,

    I’ve been using a Motley Fool Visa card since 2003 (https://wwwn.applyonlinenow.com/us/tmf5/) and it’s performed flawlessly for me. They were recently bought by Bank of America so you can imagine teeth-sucking noises when I discovered that. But to their credit a year later, it’s still a great card both offline and online.

    Of course now that I’ve said this I will get a letter telling me they’re discontinuing the card or something…

    Along the same thread, my recent gripe has been about companies irresponsibly pushing cards to me (http://www.301url.com/ccgripe).

  4. Chase was kind enough to prevent me from spending money two weeks before Christmas because it was “unusual.”

    Enjoy all of the details here:

  5. Hello Lee,

    I don’t have a Credit Card with US Bank “Thank God!”, however, when I purchased my KIA in June of 05′ the dealer I purchased from found an interest rate and term that I felt comfortable with, the lender was US Bank.

    At that time, I didn’t think or care to research the lender and it’s policies, I was just happy to have my new car. Over the course of 2 years I have patroned several of their offices.

    The look of their branches range from “80’s Modern” to ‘Government help facility”. No matter how busy, there seems to be no more then three tellers, very slow lines, and that, coupled with an old DOS system, which appears to not be connected to a modern data base and out dated, loud printers.

    One month in particular when my payment was coming due I looked at my calendar and noticed that the payment due date fell on a Sunday. At the time I had a sales job covering different territories, so I called US Bank to locate branches in those areas. The CSR informed me that if as a convenience I could make my payment in branch on a Saturday. I said, “Great, this way I won’t be rushed on my lunch hour.”

    Saturday came and I wrote out a check at the teller window, when I got my receipt my eyes bugged out, it was dated with Mondays date and no effective date to point out the actual date of payment. I said something to the teller and She told me that they only count working days. I said, “Well, you are working aren’t you?” She angrily told me “Working consist of Monday thru Friday, you should know that. I also pointed out that they don’t show a balance on the their receipts. She said had to call their 800 number for that.

    However, the Coup de grace of this story happened when, along with my receipt, she handed me an application for a Checking account and a Visa. It truly was my saving grace, because I laughed so hard, I completely forgot about the discontent I felt moments prior.