Monday, September 24, 2007

Show Me The Money!

Well, I think I've gotten the stupid bank thing straightened out, or at least on its way to being straightened out, but, aargh, was it annoying.

I called the bank's customer service number, navigated their labyrinthine phone menu system, and, after giving my account number (twice), social security number, name, date of birth, street address, blood type and shoe size, I was finally permitted to discuss my problem with a human being. (OK, I made up the last two. But, honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd asked.) Said human being listened to my tale of woe, pulled up my records, went, "Gosh, yes, that's clearly a mistake!" and cheerfully informed me that it was no problem, they could get the double-deduction and the overdraft fees removed for me right away, you betcha! "Hooray!" I thought. "Good bank!" And then she said she'd have to transfer me to the "check department," so they could deal with it.

So, OK, I get the "check department" -- which turns out to be the check fraud department -- and give them my name, rank, serial number, six-thousand-digit account number, etc., etc. all over again, and once again launch into the Tale of Woe. Another person pulls up my records and, while I am in the process of explaining about the overdrafts, interrupts to inform me that I have the wrong department. My mortgage company submits their checks electronically, so I need the department that deals with electronic transactions.

So, I am transferred again, and again give six pages worth of identifying info, all the while thinking, Jesus Christ, how many departments does this bank have, and are none of them capable of communicating?! I recite the Tale a third time, whereupon I am informed that, why, no, the bank cannot and will not help me, as the mistake was made on the mortgage company's end, and is their responsibility, overdrafts and all. Indeed, as far as they are concerned, the overdrafts are perfectly legitimate, because my account was negative, end of story. All of which was explained to me politely enough, but I'm afraid I got pretty snippy at this point, leading the person I was talking to to explain how those first-tier phone-answering people like to tell you things even when they don't know what they're talking about. Which just made me snippier. I feel kind of bad about it now. I imagine the electronic-department person is as annoyed about this kind of thing as I am, and it wasn't her fault person #1 was a lying idiot. But from a customer-service standpoint, that kind of shit is just plain unacceptable. Telling me that the problem is on the other party's end and that they're responsible for refunding my money is reasonable (and, in this case, perfectly true). Promising me it'll all get cleared up right away, making me play phone tag for fifteen minutes and then telling me I'm S.O.L. as far as you're concerned? Bullshit. I'm still annoyed about it, and even more annoyed that I took it out on somebody who was only trying to do her job.

Fortunately, when I called the mortgage company, I immediately got somebody who seemed to both know what he was talking about and to have the authority to do something about it. He instantly agreed that it was all their fault, was friendly and sympathetic, and assured me that they'd credit me for the whole thing ASAP, overdrafts and all, and that if I faxed them a copy of my bank statement (or even the online records, since I hadn't gotten a paper statement for the month yet), they'd have it taken care of in a couple of days, maximum. (This as opposed to my bank who told me that I'd have to sign an affidavit saying the debit was wrongly applied, warned me that if I didn't mail it back promptly it would be ignored, and then told me it would take them ten days to do anything about it once they got it.)

To attempt to balance out my bad-customer karma or something, I gave that guy praise and a high customer-survey rating. I just really hope he doesn't fall down on the follow-through. In the meantime, I've transferred some money over from my savings account to make sure nothing that clears in the next couple of days sends me into the negative again. Man, I'm just really glad this happened now, when I've got an actual financial cushion, and not back in my starving-college-student days. Because, in that case, I actually would have starved. (Erm, not that I had a mortgage then, of course.)

Oh, and the craptacular icing on the craptastic cake? Today I get a whole slew of overdraft notices in the mail. Thanks, bank. It's real helpful to be informed of that after I've been bouncing stuff for over a week. *rolls eyes*


  1. Ah yes...I have similar fun with the jerks who I pay my student loan too. They regularly wait until random times in the month to cash my check and then if I don't watch it screws up a multitude of other things with an occasional overdraft...and I don't dare call them and awake the demons that be, as I'm happy that they just take my money and stay away. I'm glad you were able to get help...that sort of thing makes me feel all helpless watching people and machines move my money about all over willy nilly doesn't it?

    Oh god I just daid willy silly...

  2. What really gets me about the whole thing is that I keep really careful track of my money. I don't allow automatic deductions from my account, because I want to be the one who controls exactly what comes out when, and I want to know exactly how much I can expect to be in there. And I always keep enough in the account to cover any outstanding checks, with a bit of a margin-for-error cushion. As a result, I haven't had an overdraft since I was a broke college student and my housemate bounced the check she wrote me for her share of the rent.

    But, of course, knowing exactly how much money is supposed to be in my account means I'm not likely to check... And that margin-for-error cushion is way less than my mortgage payment.