Should it be this hard to report a lost credit card?

Assorted credit cards

I called Bank of America to report a lost credit card yesterday and it hung up on me, an automated message saying it just couldn't help me right now.

That was right after I told the answering system that was supposed to be transferring me to an actual person that I had noticed fraudulent charges on the account.

Shouldn't that have set off some alarm bells somewhere?

Does every contact with Bank of America have to start with an annoying, often malfunctioning automated answering system that may -- or may not -- connect you to the bank's understaffed service center?

Could this be one of the reasons the 2010 annual customer-service survey conducted by MSN Money and Zogby International found Bank of America has the worst customer service of any bank and the second-worst of all 150 companies in the survey?

I called about noon because my wife can't find the credit card on our joint Bank of America account.

Neither my credit card nor my statements provide a special number to report lost or stolen cards. There's only one 800 number for "Customer Service."

So I punched it in and began trying to satisfy the automated answering machine.

Enter your 16-digit account number. OK, I did that. Enter your ZIP code. OK, I did that, too.

Without any further prompting the machine began reciting the details of my account. How much I owed. When my last payment was made. That sort of thing.

I listened patiently.

Finally it provided another menu for customers who needed more help.

Reporting a lost or stolen credit card was one of those options. I obediently hit the "6" button on my phone expecting to be connected to a customer service rep.

Wrong. The machine began reciting the card's most recent transactions and wanted to know if any of them were fraudulent.

I figured the best way to actually speak with someone was to answer "yes." So I did, and sure enough, the machine said it was transferring me to the next customer service representative.

I hadn't been waiting long before the automated voice came back on the line to say Bank of America just couldn't help me right now and click, I was disconnected.

I called back.

Enter your 16-digit account number the machine asked. So I did it again.

Enter your birth date. First the month. Then the date. Then the year. Did that too.

Enter your nine-digit Social Security number.

The machine said it was wrong. Entered it again, checked the display to make sure I hadn't screwed up. The machine said it was wrong, again.

It took me four phone calls over two days to battle my way through the answering system, wait my turn, and finally be connected to a customer service rep.

By then I was wondering whether I really needed this credit card and if I'd be better off just closing the account.

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