January 5, 2010

I fought the bank and the bank won.

I went shopping on my lunch break with a friend. I picked out a bunch of adorable clothes on sale. The total came up to about $30. But my card was declined. The cashier tried it twice.

I was completely confused and checked my bank account online when I got back to the office. Um, I had plenty of money in my account. No major bills were being taken out. There was no reason why my card should have been declined.

I sat on hold, waiting for a rep, thisclose to getting cash and just paying for the clothes that way. The rep got on the line and told me that the loss prevention department had canceled my card. She transferred me to them, so I could find out why they thought my account was at risk of theft.

That department said I would have to go in to a local branch to get a new card. I left work, went to a bank...and they told me I would have to call the chick I set up the account with originally, that it would take her only seconds to fix this whole mess.

I went back to the office and called her, only to learn that she was out of the office. I left a voicemail, asking her to return my call as soon as possible.

::longing for that bag of clothes at the store::

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Apparently I won't get access to my money until they send me a check for the balance of my account in ten business days. Because my account was closed, due to a clerical error. But then again, I don't know for sure. I've called a billion places and can't get any answers. So, basically, I just don't get access to my money until they mail it. I can't believe this is legal.

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I told several different bankers that I just wrote my check for rent and that should be hitting my account any day now. I got the same response from everyone: "I'm sorry...I don't know what to tell you."

So, basically, they're holding my money so they can cover all transactions that will be hitting my account over the next ten days. Hopefully, rent will be one of those transactions. I'm hoping this means they will still use the money in my account to pay incoming checks.

I'm seriously questioning whether I want to keep using banks.

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I called the call center, two individual branches, and their loss prevention department at least two times each. I cried, yelled, and even begged a bit. All they would tell me (the call center, that is) is that I just have to wait for them to mail a check in 10 business days.

The local branches didn't seem to know what was going on...they made everything even more confusing. However, I may go into the branch I went to today, because that lady has been the most helpful thus far. She seemed very sure of what was going on and said this was really common. She's the one that said the other bank branch had to "take ownership of the account."

But then again, she might have been confused too.

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The money that Keene transferred to me for rent is no longer appearing in my account. It had been posted yesterday, but is not there today.

I'm sitting on hold now to find out where it went. I suspect they sent it back to him, though I can't think why.

Shit. Shit. Shit. They're going to make my rent check bounce.

I called the bank's Personal Account department. She didn't have information, so she transferred me to the Online Banking Dept. THAT lady didn't know anything, so she's calling someone else, I guess? I've been on hold for about ten minutes.

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Aaaaaand now I'm being transferred to the Loss Prevention Dept. I can't freaking believe they can do this. I explained that a check has been written and WILL be cashed soon, because the money WAS in my account as of Saturday.

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Huh. So, they sent back the money to Keene. Even though he had transferred it to me on Saturday and this shit only happened yesterday. The bank said they won't let any checks through anyways, because the account is now closed. So any checks I've written (such as rent and the kids' lunch money) will be returned.

I'm going over there at lunch again. Then I'm going to call my apartment complex, explain this to them, give them Keene's money order. Then I'll have to bring cash to the kids' school to give them so they don't cash the check I gave them yesterday.

Right now I wish I could morph into a more confrontational person, so I can ream them out while staying level-headed. I'm afraid the moment they say, "That's just how it's done," I'll give up and start crying.

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On the phone with Keene now. They haven't returned his money to him. He called the bank (he's with the same one as me) and they show no record of his transfer being returned...only of it hitting my account.

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I went to the branch and brought my lawyer-friend with me. The lady who was helpful yesterday recognized me immediately. She listened and started making calls. She called the banker who originally opened my account, as well as the manager of that lady.

Then she came back and said that she was waiting on approval from the district manager. If the DM approved it, my account would reopen immediately, Keene's money would hit my account at midnight, and a new debit card would be rushed to me. She thinks it'll most likely be approved.

She justified my feelings by saying that she couldn't believe this happened. She said she had never seen something like this happen before (in response to Keene's money being in limbo too).

Sooooooo...I'm just waiting on her call to see if it's approved. I'm feeling flabbergasted that all this shit happened due to basically a clerical error.

And kudos to Kaci for being the cool, lawyer-ly friend who had my back.

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This whole mess makes me really wary of the banking system. I had never known they could just freeze your account at any point, because of some policy (or even because of a bank error). That's a scary thought, that they can just hold onto your money but because they're a big corporation and this is just how it's done, then it's okay.

I'm sure I sound like some anti-establishment hippie. But yesterday was pretty weird.

I'm going to try out non-banking for a while and see how it works out for me. If it becomes too inconvenient, I'll get an account. But until then, pfft.

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