Friday, November 6, 2009

The Evil Eye

I am trying to be optimistic about this whole financial mess.

I had to go back to the bank yesterday because the promised phone call regarding the exorbitant fees tacked onto my account had not materialized and I gave them an extra day. Plus, when I went to log onto my account online, I was denied. That was frustration and a half.

The screen said to create a new password. Okay, that I can accept. I attempted to do that and was told to call a toll free number. Call the toll free number and get the English or Spanish option. Then get "Enter your account number or your Social Security number." I entered my account number and got a repeat of the sentence. I did this for 15 minutes, hanging up and trying again with either the account number or my Social Security number.

In frustration, I found another toll free number and called that. I did get through to an operator that time. I explain I was having problems and could she transfer me or was there another number I could call. She informed me I had to call the previous number. I explained I'd been doing this for 15 minutes. I understood she couldn't help me but could she send my call somewhere else or give me another number. No. I had to call the original number. Again I explained the problem and when she told me yet again, that I had to call the original number, I asked to speak to a supervisor. She told me to call the first number and hung up on me. No, I didn't get her name because I was, at this point, nearly in tears.

So, yesterday, armed with times and a list of everything I have done, I went back to the bank and talked to the man who, it turns out, is at the top of the food chain at this branch. I told him exactly what I did, what number I called and what happened. He called the same number I did and got the same voice prompt. "Oh well, you have to dial..." I forget what number it is, to get out of that circle. It's not explained. There is zero explanation on the phone system.

I told him that's horrible customer service. As a customer, I wouldn't know to push that number because that's NOT what the message says.
He knows because he works there.

He looked at my account. He had to do a great deal of manipulation of the account numbers to get into the screen that shows my accounts. I have a temporary number until this mess gets sorted out, but he got in and wrote everything down for me.

That's when he noticed the Mastercard account, the one they screwed up on the online payment for, had been closed. I received no notice that this was going to happen. He said that's against the law, first of all and secondly, I should have received a letter AND a phone call from a live person. So, he showed me the protest email he was sending.

Then there is the matter of the fees attached to my checking account. I came, yesterday, with the letters telling me I needed to make the account positive, you know, the ones I didn't get until 4 days AFTER I was supposed to fix this. He looked them over and admitted the letters were confusing because they are system generated and not in chronological order. I should have received a phone call from a live person. I've only received these calls that tell me to go online, which I couldn't, to see what the problem was. Again, he showed me the protest email he was sending up the food chain.

Unfortunately, the review of my account could take "5 to 7 business days" and I protested last Thursday. I told him I have been unable to pay any bills because I have no idea how much money is in my account. I will have to call other credit card companies and explain the problem so additional fees won't get attached to those accounts. So, far, that has gone well. It takes longer than expected to get through the explanations so I have missed a couple cards that are on the east coast. Fortunately, I don't have much so it's not a stack. It's just embarrassing to have to explain this every single time. Mr. manager said he would ask that a decision be expedited.

So, here we come to the weekend. I have a check from liquid funds that I could deposit or start a new account. I really don't want the hassle of a new account, but this is beyond ridiculous. I am to write up all the problems I have had with how this bank's online system works, how their phone system works and that ridiculous hang up on Wednesday. Mr. manager assures me he will see that it gets passed up to those who deal with customer service. I'm also thinking I should send a copy to the Better Business Bureau, my congressman, my senator and the Illinois Attorney General. The latter's office takes a very dim view of this kind of thing.

I was remembering when I refinanced my mortgage and got a debit card. I put it aside and didn't use it. At the time, we were getting paper payroll and expense checks. Those expense checks were what I lived on.

Now, everything is electronic. My paycheck and expense checks are direct deposit. The only thing I see is the email saying the expense check has been deposited and the statement from my paycheck. I never see anything that requires me to go to the bank. Am I better off this way?

I'm thinking, for me, I need to have X number of dollars at the beginning of the week and that's all I have to live on. It's too easy to swipe the debit card at Caribou Coffee or Flips Italian Beef or Carol's Garden Restaurant. I'm thinking, for the time being, I need to go back to the old ledger form of financial accounting. Everything I buy or any check I write, needs to be entered into some sort of ledger so I can account for every penny. Perhaps I got lax. Perhaps I got too trusting although I do look at my accounts at least 4 times a month online. I match up all receipts but, for me, maybe that's not enough.

I don't know. I just know I can't go through this again and I need to have concrete specific proof that I didn't spend more than I took in so if this were to happen again, I can come back and say, "I did not screw up. You did."

I need pie. After work, I'm going over to Dominicks and getting a pie, a whole pie, and I'm going to take a long time to eat it.

Beverage: China Black Tea


1 comment:

  1. I am proud of you. It might not happen right away but something will be done about it. You should send a letter to all those organizations. Especially right now there is a lot of attention being paid to banks and how they handle people's money. Your letter might not initiate action all on it's own but it could be the one that initiates the "snowball" effect.