Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Dear Bank of America: Why Bernie's Message Resonates
But we're not talking about apathetic customer service or Williams Sonoma sending the wrong cake. We're talking about hundreds of dollars of late fees and a damaged credit score.
So here's the story: once upon a time when I was in high school, my mom went with me to Bank of America to set up my very first checking account. And, of course, she had to co-sign for that account because SEE ABOVE: kid in high school (i.e., no money).
I think setting up the account was pretty much the first, last and only transaction my mother made, but who knows? Maybe she covered a bounced check or two when I was in college. I WAS NOT ALWAYS THE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE PERSON YOU SEE BEFORE YOU NOW. Anyway, she's had nothing as in NOTHING to do with the account for probably 40+ years. No debit card, no checks, no online ID, nothing. NADA. ZILCH.
But apparently, a while back, BofA sent out a notice asking her to update her info or...? Who knows. Her access to the account would be limited? Well, you would expect that, I guess, and it wouldn't be a problem for her since it's not her account. Anyway, she claims she never received the notice. Even if she did, I'm sure she would have had no idea what to do with it since it was referring to a bank account she wouldn't recognize.
Last night at 7:00ish PM I received an email telling me my scheduled payments had all been canceled. Then I received an email telling me my debit card had been canceled. Then I received an email telling me my Zelle account had been canceled. I didn't see any of this--and what would I have done anyway after hours?
This morning I went into B of A to pay some bills, and I noticed it was going to pull the money from my business account. UH NO. Paying personal bills with business funds is not okay. Nor is there enough money in that account to cover all these bills. So I kept trying to figure out what was going on, I pop over to my email and BOOM. I see a long list of canceled transactions and the notice to call B of A if I believe there is a mistake.
Naturally, I believe there is a mistake.
I phone and learn--after waiting TWENTY MINUTES ON HOLD--that, yep, my account has been frozen, my bill pay has been wiped out completely, and no, I wouldn't be notified ahead of time--NO WARNING WHATSOEVER--because the communications only go to the person whose profile is under review. NOT THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY USES THE ACCOUNT, WHOSE MONEY IS SITTING IN THE ACCOUNT, WHOSE NAME IS ON THE CHECKS AND DEBIT CARD AND PAYROLL. NO TEXT, NO PHONE CALL, NO EMAIL to let me know what was happening with MY account and MY money.
Why in the name of heaven would the other person on the account--the person who actually uses the account, who is depositing money into the account, writing checks on the account, not be notified? No one could tell me. Or rather, COMPANY POLICY was the uncomfortable answer. But why would there be such an idiotic and illogical policy??? I'M SO SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE was the response because of course there's no good answer. This isn't a security precaution, it's not a safety precaution, it's completely illogical not to contact the person who will be affected and who could maybe even solve the problem.
So the second customer service rep says she can take the freeze off for 72 hours so that I can go in person to my bank and try to figure it out. Oh, but if I want to take my mom off the account, they'll have to close the account and open a new one. WHAT???? WHY????
Also she couldn't re-link my debit card to my account because my card was canceled. But she did think she had straightened out the bill pay situation, although I would have to go in and redo all those payments--now late--from scratch. And yeah, BofA was probably not going to cover all those late fees coz COMPANY POLICY, SORRY.
Except, I couldn't. When I went into the account, it was still pulling the money from the business account. So guess what that means? Let's say my mom WAS a bad guy. BofA JUST GAVE HER ACCESS TO MY BUSINESS ACCOUNT THROUGH THE PAY CENTER EVEN THOUGH SHE'S NEVER BEEN ON MY BUSINESS ACCOUNT. THAT 80 YEAR OLD FIEND COULD HAVE CLEANED OUT MY BUSINESS ACCOUNT,
So I called BoA back and...yeah, whatever the last one did was wrong and the new one says he's fixed it but it's going to be 24 hours before anything takes effect, meanwhile, yeah, all the old info is gone and has to be redone, SORRY NOT SORRY COMPANY POLICY.
The moral of the story? I'm figuring out what to do with my SIX Bank of America accounts. Is it more trouble to update my mom's info and let her remain on the account OR should I move all the accounts elsewhere OR just some of the accounts? I don't want to reward BofA for horrible and irresponsible business practices (and lousy customer service) with my continued business but who the hell has time to deal with all this bullshit? Not me. Asking me to go in person to my bank to sort out a problem of BofA's manufacturing? Is adding insult to injury. Or vice versa. Anyway, this is why most of us ordinary folks--your customers, BofA--think you are out of control and need to be reined in. We feel we need to be protected against your irresponsible and indefensible COMPANY POLICIES, and if it's not Bernie, it will be someone else because You're. Out of. Control.