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Simple - how not to launch an alternative to your regular bank

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy July 17, 2013
Want to know how not to launch a service? Check out this email thread from - a new type of finance service that wants to get back to old fashioned banking service.

meet simple
Earlier today I received this email out of the blue:

Hi Dennis,

I'm excited to invite you to apply for Simple 

You'll join tens of thousands of people like you who have replaced their bank with a smarter way to save and spend.

 I started Simple because I believed we could build a great company by helping you better manage your money and achieve your financial goals. I realized a few years ago that banks make money by keeping their customers confused, and that just seemed wrong.

We decided to do things differently. By focusing on building an intuitive and friendly customer experience, we've crafted something that we're really proud of and our customers love.

Here's how we're better:

  • Simple does not profit from fees.
  • We account for your regular bills and savings goals, and tell you what’s Safe-to-SpendTM today.
  • Our customer service team delivers fantastic experiences that will brighten your day and provides personal service when things go wrong.
  • Our Goals feature offers an easy way to budget and save, right in your account.

You can apply for your Simple account today

I know you'll love Simple and look forward to sharing it with you.


Co-founder and CEO, Simple

Awesome?  Sounds like it except for one tiny detail: in order to apply, you have to be a US resident. Which I am not. So - I hit the reply button pointing out this minor inconvenience only to be more surprised to receive the following email:


Just a heads up, this email address receives a lot of messages. If you're already a Simple customer, please don't use this address-- instead, message us through the Simple interface, or call us at 888-248-0632.

If you're corresponding with us about the identity verification process, we'll get back to you within two days. For anything urgent, give us a call.

If you're emailing to find out why you were rejected for a Simple account, please know it's very difficult to reverse these decisions. We outlined some common reasons for rejection here.  

We will respond to your email within about a week.

[My emphasis added.]

So let me get this straight:

  • Someone, somewhere has put me on a mailing list. This has to be the case as I've never heard of Simple before now.
  • I get what purports to be a personalised invitation - but it isn't and doesn't apply to me anyway.
  • The autoresponder email has no clue WTF I am talking about.
  • They'll get back to me in 'about a week.'

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favor of seeing disruption in the traditional banking community and the model looks to be good. But...if this is how they launch a service then what possible trust can I put in their ability to deliver? Zero. Nada. None. Simple? Right....more like stupid.

On the other hand, others who have kicked the tires claim it's on OK service. Maybe so but this is absolutely not the way to go about trying to harvest new customers.

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