Apologies for digging this deep into the “everything” category, but I need to vent.
I’ve been wrangling with Bank of America since Saturday over a screw-up in their system that caused my checking account to be overdrawn. I had set up my checking account to pay my credit card bill automatically, with e-mail alerts telling me 1) when these payments had been scheduled and 2) when they were posted. Money has been tight and cash flow erratic, so I tried to cancel the automatic payments to pay manually as finances permit. Turns out I only canceled the auto-payment for October.
Saturday at 1:26 PM an e-mail arrived that said an automatic payment had been posted the day before. meaning that it was too late to cancel the payment. Knowing that this had overdrawn my account, I immediately logged into online banking to transfer money from another account to cover it. The system wouldn’t let me, something about maintenance. After several tries and failures, I started calling customer service numbers. After 20+ minutes, I finally selected a random menu item that seemed most likely to get me a real human being.
The rep that answered couldn’t help me because of the system maintenance issue, but he said that final processing of automatic payments doesn’t take place until the end of the day. If I made a transfer into the account the same day as the payment was deducted from it, I should be able to avoid the overdraft charge. That’s a problem, I explained, because the transaction was yesterday, but I didn’t receive the alert until today. And I never did receive the payment-scheduled alert or I could have taken care of it days ago. The alerts go out the same day as the transaction, he said, so I should contact my ISP about why my messages are coming through late. Oh, it’s my ISP’s fault? Really?? That’s not what the message headers say.
I returned to the Web site to register a complaint, triggering a pop-up window inviting me to chat with a support representative. I cut and pasted the rant I had just written into the chat window. The rep, who might actually have been a real person and not software, told me that the system would be down for another hour and a half but that I should be able to log in after that. He couldn’t help me otherwise, so he provided a direct number to another support department. I was so mad by then I decided to deal with it on Monday and not ruin the rest of the weekend (but I did log on later and successfully made the transfer).
My memory was jogged this afternoon by an e-mail alert that my account was overdrawn (approximately 46 hours after the transfer that brought it back into the black), so I called the support number provided by the chat rep. The first rep I talked to was not very helpful. She did assure me that the automatic bill pay had been canceled, but things got a bit heated when she kept insisting that e-mail alerts were available only if I made payments through e-Bills, not Bill Pay. Total BS, since I had been receiving alerts from Bill Pay for almost two years. She also contradicted Saturday’s rep, saying that alerts go out within one to three business days of the transaction. Business days?? “Computers don’t take weekends off,” I snarled. “But the bank does,” she insisted, as though the absence of humans from a building would affect an automated process.
With no suggestions for how I could avoid penalties if the Bank of America computer system doesn’t send alerts in a timely fashion, she transferred me to another rep. After a long conversation that included me restating my problem, telling her repeatedly that a $.99 online debit card transaction on a different account was not the issue, and ranting about how her employer was screwing its customers at every possible opportunity (“I’m yelling, but I’m not angry at you“), she finally gave up and said she would refund the overdraft charge, because that seemed to be the issue I was most upset about. It hadn’t been a stroll in the park up to that point, but that remark really got to me.
Yeah, I said, thirty-five bucks is a lot of money to me right now, but I’d still be pissed on principle. What I was angriest about was being exploited at every turn by a soulless financial giant that my tax dollars had bailed out. All the stress and inconvenience dealing with this issue cost me far more than $35, so it really was the principle of the thing. By the time I hung up the phone, I was a wreck.
This incident followed repeated mailings from Bank of America threatening to “escalate” on our second mortgage, even after my husband made a payment by phone and received assurances from a rep that our account was current. He paid a visit to the local branch this afternoon to make sure that BoA wasn’t about to illegitimately foreclose on our home (as happened to Angela Iannelli—the bastards even took her parrot) and let the staff there know that we would be taking our business elsewhere. No reflection on them—they’ve always treated us very well.
There aren’t a lot of banking options in our little town if you want a local branch, but with online banking and ubiquitous ATMs that’s not as much of a problem as it used to be. If our new bank will take over our loans and transfer balances to new credit cards, we might never have to give the greedy bastards at Bank of America another penny. And that would make me very, very happy.