Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You

I've always despised my bank, despite being a loyal member since 1982. I've always wanted to dump them, and now I am taking steps.

My hostility to my bank began when I first came to college, and they lost the check from the old branch. This was way back before the internet, before electronic transfers and ATMs, when it actually mattered where your branch was.

When they found the check again, I had the manager write me a check and close the account. Boy was he steamed. I opened one in a rival bank.

But then they ticked me off too (not sure why), and I moved back to the original bank brand, because they were the only one near where I moved to. I think that was 1984, but the card says I've been loyal since 1982. I wouldn't put it past them to have messed that up too.

I worked for the worst, most weasely, dishonest, smarmy, arrogant boss ever in the early 1990s. It turned out that he had worked for my terrible bank.

Their staff have always been overbearing and arrogant on the phone. In person they are suspicious and sneaky. In 1995, I financed my first car through them, and was in a hurry. The delighted lady kept adding a half percent interest every time she got a new fact from me. There may have been an extra half percent because I have a vowel in my name. It finally came to 14.5 percent.

I paid it off in six months, just so they wouldn't get much interest income out of me.

Then at one point, they cut off my access to my account when I told them I didn't want the check card feature of the new ATM card they forced on us without asking. You can read all about it, but you'd be better off to skip it:

March 8, 1998


This is a letter of complaint supplementing to two complaints I registered with your officials by phone.

In February I requested a new ATM-only card to replace my Express ATM & Check Card. My access to your ATMs was blocked when my Express ATM & Check Card was terminated. I was not informed it would be terminated. The action appears to be a retaliatory response to my request to register a complaint about service.

Point #1: Well Fargo officials inform me that it is the policy of the bank to immediately terminate all functions of an Express ATM & Check Card when a customer requests an ATM-only card to replace their Express ATM & Check Card. If this is your policy, it is unnecessary and highly inconvenient to the customer as it deprives them of access to their funds until the new card arrives.

Point #2: A service agent identified by you as "Marisa" gave me very poor, confusing, and frustrating service when I called to request a new ATM-only card to replace my Express ATM & Check Card. If you have a complete rather than fractional recording of this call please retain it and review it. I asked her for a new ATM-only card to replace my current Express ATM & Check Card. That in itself is sufficient and clearly understood. The call should have ended there, with "We will do that. Thank you for calling." No other discussion needed to ensue. Instead, she led me repeatedly down a pathway regarding whether I still had the "old" card, and whether I could use that. This was unnecessary and confusing. Since I was requesting a new card, the "old" card, in my mind, was my Express ATM & Check Card. After repeatedly and pointlessly dragging me through discussion of the "old" card, I finally realized she thought I still retained the ATM-only card which Well Fargo replaced when they sent me my Express ATM & Check Card. It was wrong for her to assume I had chosen not to follow the bank's recommendation that replaced cards be destroyed.

Point #3:
After requesting to register a complaint with the supervisor of "Marisa," and having done so, my access to your ATMs was blocked when my Express ATM & Check Card was terminated -- without any agent of yours informing me this would happen. This appears to be a retaliatory action on the part of "Marisa," a punitive response to my complaint. The supervisor and "Marisa" both had the responsibility to inform me the ATM access would be canceled, and neither one informed me. It is a very serious matter when a bank customer is denied access to their funds due to personal animus on the part of the bank's agents. Banking requires the highest levels of integrity and you have the responsibility to make sure these agents cannot commit this sort of act again.

Please inform me in writing of all further avenues of redress that are available to me within your process. Let me know the ID number or code you have assigned to this matter. Please inform me in writing, immediately, what you expect to be the date of your resolution of this matter and the date on which I will be informed. Please inform me in writing of the full and complete details of your resolution of the matter.

In response to this letter I received nothing. I went to Europe for a month. When I got back, I checked my PO box, and there was a box in there with a nonspecific apology letter, plus apples, peaches, cheese, and other things which had rotted in the box during the time I was away.

They continued in this fumbling, arrogant vein for years. But now my revenge is at hand. You see, E-Trade, which has been my broker for many years, and which has always offered me excellent customer service, has this thing called "E-Trade complete," whereby you can write checks against your E-Trade brokerage account, and use their debit card as a credit card, and use it at ATMs of any bank -- and E-Trade will automatically refund the ATM fees, up to five per month. I don't use the ATM five times per month, and with the amount E-Trade allows me to withdraw being 2.5 times that allowed by my bank, it should not be an issue.

I've been writing the checks for a while now, and when the debit card came, I made several online purchases successfully. Friday I used it at the electronics store to buy several things, including a new Canon Powershot A520. Saturday used it to get cash from the ATM -- at my bank.

We shall see how automatic that ATM fee refund is. I'll try depositing checks with E-Trade by endorsing them "for deposit only" and mailing them in. If these last two things work out well, then I'll write a big check from my bank to E-Trade and zero out the bank account.

I have been thinking about writing them a letter explaining how much I despise them, and gloating about leaving. But then again, just doing it silently might be more satisfying. What do you think?

Left grip is 33 pounds (30, 33, 31), right grip is 82 pounds (80, 81, 82), left leg balance is 4.93 seconds, and inhale volume is 4450 mL.

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