Monday, May 21, 2012


Listen, kid, we're all in it together.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from my bank which began, "We've been listening to you." The letter went on to tell me that henceforth, I would be subject to a monthly service charge of 15 dollars on my checking account.

I'm pretty sure I never said I wanted that.

I went in to the bank the next day to tell them that they needed to work on their listening skills. They thought that was pretty hilarious. I spoke to a Personal Banker about my situation. She told me that to get rid of the service charge, I would need to switch to a more basic type of account. But when she tried to change my account, she was unable to do so -- The System wouldn't let her. She spoke to the Bank Manager, but the Bank Manager was powerless to intervene on my behalf. The System had spoken.

The only option available was to close my old account and open a new one. Easy Peasy, right? But, before I could close the account, it had to have a zero balance. That meant no outstanding checks or holds or payments pending. Thus spake The System. It being the beginning of the month, I had just written a rent check. So I would have to wait for that to clear. Plus I have several recurring automated payments tied to the account, including a couple on PayPal. And not all of them conveniently take place at the first of the month. So I had to find a time when all my payments had cycled through The System, and then quickly pounce.

Meanwhile, I signed a bunch of forms so that my Personal Banker could set up the new account in readiness for the Big Switcheroo. Then I waited.

But I did not wait idly. Each day I went online to check the status of my old account: rent check - cleared, Visa card - cleared, PayPal - cleared. So far so good. Just for kicks, I checked the new account as well. There I found a negative balance of 59 dollars: 19 bucks for new checks and a 40 dollar overdraft fee.

What the...?

I went down to the bank and spoke to my Personal Banker. She told me that The System had automatically charged me for the new checks, even though it shouldn't have. Then it hit me with the overdraft fee just for good measure. She graciously removed the charge and the overdraft fee and apologized for The System's overly zealous actions.

I told her that the time had come for El Switcherino. Close my old account and transfer my money to the new one. The window is open. The time is ripe. All ashore that's going ashore. Etc., etc.

But wait... What's this? The System says I have an outstanding hold on the account and it cannot be closed. I asked my Personal Banker what the hold was for. She said she did not know. I asked her who would know. She said that only I would know. "How would I know?" I asked. She said that I would know because I was the one who had made the transaction. But I pointed out that all of my transactions were accounted for. There was nothing outstanding. Please close the account now. She shook her head sadly. The System will not allow it.

At this point I was becoming a little agitated. Also, I was late for work. My Personal Banker seemed to sense my mood and suggested that I come back on Monday to close the account. With any luck the missing hold will have cleared by then. Instead of leaping across the desk and strangling her with my bare hands, I suggested that she figure out exactly what the hold is for, leave that amount in the old account and transfer the rest to the new account. Then, when the hold clears and the balance zeroes out, close the old account.

My Personal Banker agreed with my plan and promised to call me with an update. I went into work, where I spent most of the morning obsessively monitoring my account status online. I saw that most of my money had been debited from my old account, except for about 12 dollars to cover some Thai food I had picked up the night before. This transaction had already appeared on my old account, but for some reason was still on hold. What I did not see was any money whatsoever having been transferred into my new account. I called my Personal Banker and politely inquired: "Where the hell is my goddamn money?" She became quite flustered and promised to call me back right away. A few minutes later, she called and assured my that my money was being transferred into the new account right away and that as soon as the hold cleared, the old account would be closed.

Of course she was lying.

I spent the weekend trying to switch my automated payments to the new account, only to find out that I had to wait for the next billing cycle to do so. In the meantime I had to schedule one-time transfers to keep from missing my payments. The System, you see. At one point, I checked my old account and discovered that the hold had cleared, but there was now an overdraft on the account in the amount of the tip I'd left at the Thai restaurant. I called the bank's 800 number and transferred that same amount back into the account, so that come Monday morning, it would zero out and my Personal Banker could close it down. Be done with it. Once and for all. And good riddance, I say.

But that, as I'm sure you have now guessed, never happened.

I did not get a call from my Personal Banker on Monday. I did not hear from her at all. I received my statement in the mail and saw that I still had a positive balance on my old account to the tune of Three Cents.  Three measly cents. Interest. Automatically credited to me by: The System. All-knowing. All-wise. All-getting-on-my-very-last-nerve.

Once more unto the breach...

I go to the bank. I show my Personal Banker my statement. She tells me that I can't close the account if there's still money in it. I tell her that I know that. Fix it. I do not slap her with the back of my hand. She promises to take care of everything. I give her my paycheck to deposit, and I leave. Later at work I check my status and I see that the three cents was transferred and the old account is finally, mercifully closed.

What I don't see is a credit to my new account in the amount of my paycheck...


Anonymous said...

She probably took herself out to lunch at the Thai restaurant with it.

Cindy said...

It sounds absolutely insane. And typical! Congrats for not committing any mayhem along the way.

TomL said...

And you didn't switch banks?