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Incident Report: Schwab

Category:communicationDate of Incident:2003.11.15
Company:Charles SchwabItem or Service:email


Charles Schwab is a well-respected discount stock broker and, in fact, one of the first to make inroads into establishing a presence on the web, lo those many years ago in the mid-90's.


If you have signed up for electronic statements, Schwab sends out an e-mail when you have a new statement available, similar to this:

Subject: Your Schwab account statement is ready
From: "Charles Schwab & Co., Inc." <>
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 17:55:24 -0500

Your account statement is available at the Schwab website.

Please log in and enroll: 

Account statements will be maintained for a rolling 18-month
period beginning with the first statement you receive in the
Schwab eStatement format.

Upon following their directions, I observed no new statement. So I sent an inquiry to that effect, asking for clarification. Here is the response:

Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 11:43:32 -0500 (EST) 
From: "Charles Schwab and Co., Inc." <>
Subject: RE:Fwd: Your Schwab account statement is ready

Thank you for your email regarding your statement.  

The notice you received is admittedly misleading as it goes out to all accounts.
There actually was no October statement for your account.
 We only generate statements on a quarterly basis if there is no account activity.

Please contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.
 Thank you for using Schwab's Email Customer Service.

Schwab Email Customer Service

Scenario problems:

So let me see if I've got this. Schwab sends an e-mail to all account holders, saying that each has a new statement, thereby causing many people--those who had no activity in the month--to each have to go to their website, hunt around, scratch their heads, and finally leave perplexed, wondering why they got such an e-mail. That is convenient for the company, but orders of magnitude less convenient for customers. (Actually, it is really only convenient for the one or two programmers directly involved in that part of their website; I can't imagine that that was really a design decision approved by management.)

In a Nutshell:

It is unfortunate that the customer service representative responding to my e-mail didn't take this opportunity to turn this fiasco around...

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