Thursday, July 23, 2009

How To Fight Your Bank and Remain Friends

How many hours a week do you spend talking to your bank on the phone or at the customer service desk? I must have a great relationship with my bank . . . almost a marriage. We speak to one another several times a week. We're almost inseparable. We argue over issues that can't resolve. In response. In response I give them the cold shoulder at times and in anger they raise my finance charges or charge me extra service fees. I lose my temper and tell them they're incompetent and I'm sorry I ever hooked up with them in the first place and hang up the phone in disgust.

Yes, my bank and I are quite a pair.

This morning I told a customer service representative that he doesn't care about me as a consumer. I blasted him, "Come on, admit it. You don't care about me. You're cold and reading out of a manual like a robot. I'm a number not a person."

This kind of interchange takes lace at least a once a week . . . I'm sorry to admit. Me and my bank.

Today's conflicts started because I started receiving email notifications that my checking account is overdrawn. Here's their heartwarming message: "Unfortunately, on 07/21/09 your available balance in your Wells Fargo account XXX-XXX-XXXX was insufficient to cover one or more of your checks, Check Card purchases, or other transactions." Do you see how the bailouts have made the banks so much nicer than ever before? At least, they felt bad for me and said, "Unfortunately . . . "

I won't bore you with a long and complicated detais, but the short version is this: A few months ago my bank suggested I send them an authorization form to take $26.86 per month out of my account to cover a minimal loan modification charge on my Home Equity account. In previous months the bank was withdrawing the money without any hitch. Now they wanted to make this transaction more official. I complied and faxed them the form.

Somehow this form cancelled the loan modification agreement. No one told me and they informed me that I must pay them $2000 to fix it. That's when the relationship went south, "How can you make me pay you $2000 when I did what you asked me to do and now you're punishing me for it. You made a mistake. Admit it." The answer was robotic, "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir. However, for you to make your account current you owe us $2000." I traded blows with this rep for fifteen long grueling minutes. I kept repeating, "I did what you asked and your bank blew it. It's your mistake. Come on, admit you're bank is wrong. I know you won't because you could care less about your customers. It's all a show. Your bank should be ashamed of itself."

Then I realized I had it. "Let me speak to your supervisor." It's like trying to settle an argument with your spouse by discussing it with an older sister or brother. The supervisor was pleasant but handed me off to another department. At this third department I spoke with a more sensible gentleman whose name was J.J. I always get worried when a person doesn't have a name - just letters. What's he hiding?

J.J. was cool. He repeated back to me what he understood the problem to be and then admitted -the bank made a MISTAKE! I couldn't believe my ears. A warm, fuzzy feeling came over me, "How could I be mad at my bank. She's so nice when she wants to be. She holds my money and gives it to me when I need it. Gives me interest bearing checking accounts and waives my late fees"

We were friends again. Like a great marriage counselor, J.J. brought me and my bank back into a loving relationship. All I needed to hear from the bank were three little words, "We were wrong." I was shocked when I heard the confession but it was like a blanket of peace that came down from heaven. I wanted to shout it out to the people on the streets, "The bank admitted it was wrong!"

Will I speak to my bank again? Sure. Will we go at it and trade blows, "Yes, of course." Did they waste my time? They always do. At one point I said, "You made a mistake and you're taking my time to fix it. I charge $40 an hour so the clock is ticking. I will send you an invoice for the time you are taking out of my day to fix your mistake."

What's the key? Keep complaining until you get someone on the line who is not a robot and can objectively understand what is taking place.

Why am I telling you all this? Simply because as individuals we are getting less and less important and the corporations are getting bigger. They say they care about you. They don't. If you are against the wall with a corporation, push back until you get a real human to talk to you.

If Obamacare ever passes, these kind of encounters will be run-of-the mill. This time you'll be arguing with a government employee who most likely won't budge. For now, my bank and I are getting along quite well. When the day comes the government is handling your health care and you need immediate medical attention and they tell you that you can't see a doctor for three months, what are you going to do? Will you ever hear the words, "We were wrong" from a government operated heathcare plan that is running amuck ? You'll have to wait and find out.


Anonymous said...

It is a pity, that now I can not express - there is no free time. But I will be released - I will necessarily write that I think.

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