Friday, April 16, 2010

Surreal, but not magic

I'm currently, in this very moment, engaged in a running, frustrating online "chat" with a BoA representative somewhere far, far away, I'm quite sure. It's not even funny enough to reproduce, but I might do it anyway, because, frustration, you know. I'm simultaneously engaged in writing a response to the Brookline Parking Fine Violations Bureau for the ticket for parking in front of my own house, in broad daylight, with plenty of street parking around. I figure, just dive into bureaucratic misery, why not?

Just typed this line to my online nonfriend: "Jack? Are you waiting to see if I die or just go away??" I mean, what the hell. I don't have high hopes of success in this endeavor.

Speaking of bureaucratic misery, I also seem to have reached an impasse (denial) from my wonderful, beloved insurance company: Travelers (never use them, people, never). While all the other owners got reimbursed by their better-than-mine insurance co(s) for the few thousand we each paid out in the disaster-that-was-sewer-line-breaking-and-backing-up-into-my-bathtub-that-resulted-in-fight-with-plumber-and-more-badness, I apparently shall not be.

I seem to be drowning in bureaucratic depths, huh? My day's been better than this -- had mindblowing workout today, holy crap. Our regular instructor was unexpectedly out, so we got a sub who helps out with the "mixed martial arts" evening classes you have to pay more for and that're, apparently, far more hard core than what we do ... and, oh my god. It was awesome. Stunning. I have bruises in all kinds of places. I hurt in all kinds of place. I had ice down my pants on the way home. Sorry if TMI, it was just an exciting class. So I had this thought driving home: could I have been a Marine in a past life? An exceedingly odd thought for me, I fully agree. And there are plenty of ways that doesn't gel, but ... OK, Jack and I finally reached the end of our road. And now I'm gonna be late for my thing tonight, and I'm starving. For your dubious entertainment, here's how I just spent what feels like a good chunk of my life....

Welcome to an online chat session at Bank of America. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Bank of America Online Banking Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. Your current wait time is approximately 1 minutes [IT WAS MORE]. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Bank of America Online Banking Specialist.
Neeta: Hello! Thank you for being a valued Bank of America customer! My name is Neeta. How may I assist you with your checking and savings accounts? May I have your full name and the last 4 digits of your accounts?
You: Hi Neeta, I don't understand why I was charged overdraft twice when I transferred money this morning and all the charges are still showing as pending. My name is Shana ... and checking account is XXX.
Neeta: I understand your concern regarding the overdraft fees on your account
Neeta: I will surely check that for you.
Neeta: May I have your full name and the last 4 digits of your accounts?
You: Um, I gave you my full name and last 4 digits already....
Neeta: I apologize for the inconvenience.
Neeta: Thank you for the information, Shana
Neeta: Please give me a minute, while I research your account details.
Neeta: Shana, i see that the fees are now in pending status
Neeta: Please contact us once the fees are posted to your account so that we are able to assist you accordingly [Great irony here, is this is exactly where, well, you'll see....]
You: That makes no sense. Why do I have to wait before they go through before someone explains why they're being charged? There's adequate money in the account.
Neeta: I will explain you.
Neeta: I suggest you to please click on the OD/ NSF fee while viewing the account activity transaction history and then click on how did this fee occur?
Neeta: It will give you a clear picture why the fee was assessed to your account
You: OK, this isn't helping. I've already done that. Is there someone else I can talk/type to there, please?
Neeta: I am able to transfer the chat to our supervisor.
Please wait while I transfer the chat to Jack who can best assist you today.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Bank of America Online Banking Specialist.
Jack: Hi Shana, this is Jack the floor supervisor.
Jack: I understand your query is regarding the pending OD fees on the account.
You: Hi, Jack. That's correct.
Jack: Please give me a minute while I access your account and check the details.
You: OK
Jack: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
Jack: Thanks a lot for your patience, let me explain the details for you.
You: OK
Jack: Your starting balance for 15th April was $XXX.
Jack: There were 3 transactions to start with, XXX CAMBRIDGE - $XXX, XXX - $ XXX, CHECKCARD XXX - $XXX
Jack: After this there were 3 transaction of $ XXX - CHECKCARD XXX.
You: OK, but the XXX charge is still pending.
Jack: That's right Shana, when we approve a request to authorize your check card transaction the available balance in your account is reduced by the amount listed in the request by the merchant.
Jack: A transaction made with your check card or ATM Card using a PIN typically is processed and posted to your account on the same day that the transaction is made, or on the next business day.
Jack: But a transaction made with your check card without your PIN, may take several business days to post to your account.
You: OK. So it still hasn't posted to my account, and I transferred money to cover it, so why am I getting charged, twice?
Jack: It's not yet posted but we have made the money available so that the merchant can complete the transaction.
You: OK, with that same logic, I also made additional money available from another account to cover the transaction. [Are you noticing how my brilliant, calm logic isn't fazing him in the slightest?]
Jack: May I know when was money transferred?
Jack: Because I see that with holds your current account balance is in negative, (- $XXX)
You: The money was transferred first thing this morning when I saw pending amounts wouldn't be covered. I show a positive balance right now of $XXX. I also see a positive balance of $XXX at the end of the day yesterday.
Jack: Thank you for your patience, I will be right with you.
You: OK
Jack: The $XXX balance for yesterday was without the hold for XXX transaction, with hold the balance on the account is in negative (- $XXX).
You: When I look at my online account activity/transactions, it shows the balance and the amount of transaction, period, and the balances are positive.
Jack: Please click on the option: “Available balance history” in the left panel under Balance Summary.
Jack: Here you will be able to see the balance including authorization holds (pending transactions).
You: That means I have to go digging to double check my balance every time I look at my online accounts? That doesn't make much sense and doesn't seem fair, or feel like good customer service.
Jack: I apologize for the delay. I'll be with you shortly.
Jack: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
Jack: I apologize for the delay. I'll be with you shortly.
You: As another side note, I got two "low threshold balance" warnings today at 4:47. What's the use of getting those if they come after I'm getting charged?
Jack: Thank you for your patience, I will be right with you.
You: Jack? Are you waiting to see if I die or just go away??
Jack: Sorry for the delay here, was just checking the details to see what could be done.
Jack: We ensure Customers are educated about how to navigate through the various screens of online banking.
You: Just checking...
Jack: This is one of the important screens and I would request you to always keep a tab of your balance using the same.
You: What?
Jack: I mean in future please check your balance by clicking on the option: “Available balance history” in the left panel under Balance Summary.
Jack: This will give you a clear understanding of the balance available.
You: I still maintain making customers dig for more information beyond what's initially displayed isn't good customer service - especially when they're getting charged, and then getting a warning about maybe getting charged after the charges have happened. Please tell me you have more for me than this. I'd like both $XXX charges reversed.
Jack: I am sorry Shana we cannot refund the OD fees unless it is a bank error.
You: Wow, that was a lot of my life spent here to hear that. Sounds like I'm at the end of the road here. I'll see where else I can go with this. Have a good life.
Jack: You could chat back with us once the fees are posted, I cannot assure whether we would be able to give a refund here but we can have a look and take a decision.
You: Oh dear god. Maybe I'll just try the lottery.
Jack: I am really sorry about this Shana, we cannot take a decision when the fee is pending.
Jack: That's the reason I am asking you to chat back once the fee is posted.
You: OK, I give up for now. Bye.

Hey, they can't all be happy bedtime stories....


  1. I believe that banks have taken the path of the devil in the Biblical sense. Before the devil was known as evil-incarnate, he was an angel, god's right hand man. Then, if you believe in all that, he succumbs to sin and falls from grace. It used to be that banks would help people, promoting responsible habits like saving for the future and adhering to a budget. Then they realized that they could make buckets of money from people and they succumbed to greed. Yes, banks = pure evil. Credit card companies, now they are pure evil concentrate; you can usually find them in the frozen aisle next to early peas and Hot Pockets.

  2. I like it - banks as our modern-day Satan-fallen-from-grace. Yet, we sure don't want to godFORBID regulate them or anything, do we?? Sorry, talking to the Republicans there. Anyway, it's a sad state of affairs. While on the phone with my insurance company, fighting away, I was struck by the quaint, absurd notion that supposedly this was MY insurance company - that they worked for ME, that they were there to help me and protect me from losses. Actually, the idea is so sad to me, it doesn't bear deep thinking about.... Why am I reminded of the horrific Virginia Slims ad campaign: We've come a long way, baby. Tragic irony, indeed.

  3. I had a long conversation with a conservative friend of mine recently and he presented to me, in factual overtone, that Reagan saved this nation from a horrible depression by deregulating banks and allowing them to do as they would with interest rates and banking fees. He likened it to airline deregulation, pointing out that airfares have come down significantly. I countered that not only is banking deregulation bad but also that the deregulation of airlines isn't comparable because that's not the only mode of transportation in the US. I also added that Reagan was a horrific actor, and then proceeded to point out that we had an actor as a president. An actor. No tragic irony here, just tragic.