By Larry Teren
When I walk into a public emporium to talk to a live customer service representative and start the conversation with “I’m mad as hell and ain’t gonna take it anymore”, I don’t expect the person on the receiving end to reply, “I don’t blame you. I’d feel the same.”
Huh? What? Come again? I worked myself up into a lather due to being upset about requiring to waste several minutes over two days to solve a banking problem. I demanded an opportunity to vent but the lady would not cooperate. It’s not fair!
Oh, I suppose you wanna know what got my dander up? Okay…..
After Dad passed away a couple of years ago, Ma decided to put all her assets in trust and designated me as her co-trustee. That meant I also had to help her deal with all financial correspondence she received.
The other day she received a notice from her bank that one of her accounts was now in dormant status for failure to perform any activity on it during the past twelve months.
Time out: This is one of the parts that got my dander up. She has two accounts. As I said to the banker later on in this story, “why aren’t the two accounts linked? If she shows activity in one of her accounts on a regular basis, shouldn’t it be a given that she hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth?” The male banker guy laughed, picked his nose and told me that the government mandates that it is the bank’s responsibility to declare a non-active account dormant after one full year.
I then mentioned that the account in question was a money market instrument that one usually leaves alone and lets collect dust and some interest. Most people defer from writing checks from money market accounts. And the amount of moolah Ma receives each month from Uncle Sam’s social security safety net is not enough to trickle any spare change into her money market account. Hence, there would be no need for activity. After this oration, the banker this time scratched an area of his body and said, “rules are rules.” : Time In
This past Monday, I dropped off a signed affidavit to a customer service rep at the bank in which Ma attested that she was still kicking and therefore to please take the “dormant” status off her account. I snarled a few choice comments and the lady banker told me that she would submit it. I kicked the sleeping bank guard and ran out of the building.
On Thursday morning, as I came over to take her shopping (such a nice son- [Ed. Note: shut up!]) she shows me that she received another notice from the bank indicating that her account was dormant on 08/29/2011 because it had no activity since 08/29/2011. That is correct- this is not a typo.
I called the bank and a customer service woman held the telephone receiver in one hand and an English-to-Whatever translation dictionary in the other said that she would have the bank send out a corrected
dormant notice. I told her that if her solution was to send out another notice, that I wanted to speak to the bank president. She quickly flipped the pages in whatever she was reading and told me that she would find out what happened and get back to me- not to worry. Twenty minutes later she called to say that the account was restored to active status. No apologies but that’s okay. Saying I’m sorry never has meaning if you aren’t.
On a hunch, I went to check out her accounts online using a web browser. I saw that the bank had one day earlier withdrew ten dollars from her account for dormancy. That’s when my blood began to boil and I rushed down a block and a half to the bank to have the High Noon showdown with the male banker with his own unique way of personal hygiene.
He said that as a courtesy, the bank was restoring the ten dollars back into her account. I told him that as a courtesy, the board of directors of Ma’s trust would meet and I would suggest to them to keep her money in the bank. Still, I wanted to know why the bank could send out such a letter that indicated her account was in dormant status because it had been inactive for zero days. The bank bozo said, “you mean, one full year.” I replied, “no, I mean, zero days. The first letter indicated one year, the second one stated zero days.”
The bank guy said, “let me see that.” and I did. He looked at it as if I had perpetrated a hoax on him and said, “I don’t understand this. Can I keep it? I’d like to find out how this was done.” I then went into my standard professional explanation of it not being a computer mistake but an idiot who typed it into the computer. My guess is that with the first letter Ma signed, the first customer rep gave it to a person who types things into a computer and said, “see what you can do to foul this up- okay?”
Computers don’t make mistakes. People who tell the computer what to do make them. And as I said to start with- you can bank on it!