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Truliant FCU Raises Fear of Being Declined in New Website Pitch for Opt-in Debit Card Overdraft Protection

By Jim Bruene on June 10, 2010 3:50 PM | Comments (1)

image Three weeks ago I noticed that North Carolina-based Truliant Federal Credit Union had posted a highly visible opt-in overdraft pitch on its login page (see screenshot #5, below). I checked back today and found that the CU is still running a login page ad, albeit smaller (ss #2), and has also taken the message to its homepage (ss #1).

The new ads are more fear-based compared to the previous friend-of-the-customer approach (see note 1). In addition, the 180,000-member CU has moved to an online opt-in form (ss #4). Previously, customers could only ask for someone to contact them (ss #6).

Truliant has considerably simplified the landing-page message. In May, it offered a credit line option in addition to the simple $29-per-item system (ss #6). Apparently, that wasn't working as well as hoped. Now, members clicking on either the homepage or login-page promo receive a short, semi-urgent message (ss #3) that links to the online opt-in form.

Analysis: While I think the CU does an adequate job explaining the new opt-in options (see note 2 for suggested improvements), I'm disappointed it moved away from giving the credit line option equal billing. With an APR of 6.5% to 11.5% and no transaction/advance fees, it's a much more cost-effective option (note 3).   

1. Truliant FCU homepage visitors receive a large homepage pitch to opt-in for overdraft protection (10 June 2010)
Note: It must be a brand new banner since the underlying hyperlink, after the ads have cycled once, has a typo causing it to lead to an error page (9:25 AM PDT)

image

2. Overdraft protection message on login page (link, 10 June 2010)

image

3. Landing page (link, 10 June 2010)       4. Opt-in form (link,10 June 2010)
Click to enlarge                                           Click to enlarge

image    image

5. Previous login page had two ads for OD protection (20 May 2010)

image

6. Previous landing page included a line-of-credit option (link, 20 May 2010)
Note: In May there was no online opt-in form; interested members could only select a "contact me" button. The landing page now links to the form shown in #4 above.

image

Notes:
I hate singling out Truliant for this post. It has one of the best blogs in all of banking that does a great job educating and connecting with members. And because the CU has done a decent job with the overdraft opt-in process, I'd give it a B or B- grade. But my job is to look for potential improvements, so here goes.

1. Is making members afraid of using their Truliant debit card really a good way to endear them to the brand? Sure, the ads are likely to produce clickthroughs and they definitely don't cross over into the misleading category, but is there a little "crying wolf" here? Something to think about.

2. Other suggestions for improvement:

  • The three choices on the online form are not as clear as they could be. The most popular choice, number 2, has both a YES and NO in it. That's the kind of wording that gives your members a headache. It would be far simpler if you just asked customers to tell you which types of transactions they want covered:
       A. Paper checks and automatic drafts (yes/no)
       B. Debit card transactions that don't require a PIN (yes/no)
  • The landing page confuses the matter by using three different terms (debit without PIN, debit, and signature debit) without providing a detailed definition. At minimum, a link to a clear definition of the term should be included.
  • The landing page says you have to "opt in again by August 15." That sounds like I need to do something now and something again later this summer.
  • The "nightmare" scenario presented on the landing page, being denied at the grocery store POS when you have a hungry family to feed, is a good example of the downside of not electing to have debit-card OD protection. And even though the $29 charge is mentioned in the previous paragraph, members skimming the landing page may still not understand it will cost them $29 to avoid this embarrassment/hassle. I'd go overboard here and place an asterisk by this line and disclose the $29 fee again in fine print at the bottom.  

3. If the problem is that it's too hard to qualify for the credit line, the CU should consider a higher-APR and/or more-fee version for riskier members.

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Hi. I think everything you said in this write up is pretty much true. I am currently conducting a study about online credit card applications and other credit account information and somehow, Google led me to this. I think I'll be visiting your blog more often from now on.

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