Monday, August 18, 2014

Chasing Chase (Haha I'm So Clever)

People like to complain about banks. For awhile, I was not one of those people. Banks were a necessarily evil that I was only marginally involved with. They gave me a place to conveniently park my money, but it was never enough for them to do irresponsible things with, and I never took advantage of any of their rewards programs or credit cards or refinancing etc. They left me alone and I left them alone, so I didn't feel complicit in their shenanigans during the subprime mortgage crisis. But now, I've got something to fucking complain about, so I'm going to do it here. 

The target is Chase Bank.

For years I used Chase since their banks were literally on every other street corner in the greater New York City area. Convenience is a big part of who I choose, so if it turns out a small bank helps out the little guy and funds oversees entrepreneurs, great! But if I have to travel more than a mile or so to visit a branch/ATM, and I can't take nifty pictures of checks and have them get deposited from my couch, then fuck it I'm not choosing them, and if that makes me an asshole then so be it. 

During my recent move, it came to my attention that Chase had no branches in the Nashville area. This would be a problem, so I made plans to find a new bank. This didn't bother me, because again, convenience is key, not any sort of brand loyalty. Ideally, I could've withdrawn all funds and closed the account in person before leaving, but I still had a direct deposit check coming through from my last days at work, and would need to square some bills in the coming weeks, and sending money directly via chase quickpay was the easiest way to do that. I figured it wouldn't be a problem to just close the account over the phone in the coming months. In retrospect I am the dumbest person on the earth.

Weeks passed, my funds dwindled since I was still using my debit card in Nashville, but then the time came to close the account, and for them to send me the not insignificant amount left in my checking account. I thought about having them wire it to my new account, but that would cost money, and I could stand to wait a couple of weeks for them to send the check in the mail. My security deposit from my Brooklyn apartment would keep me afloat for some time anyway. So I checked chase's website for details on how to close my account. Not easy to find as it turns out! Some deep digging led me to a "close account request form" that looked promising, but it seemed like something I'd have to deliver in person, which was impossible. So I begrudgingly called customer service and gave them the scoop. 

"Hi I need to close my account and have my remaining funds sent to my new address please." 

"Ok, well I can close your account, but I can't send the money to a different address afterwards."

"Ok, can youuuuu change my address, and then close my account?"

"No, address changes take 3-5 business days to reflect on the account."

"Ok, well I have this close account request form, and there's a space where I can specify where my remaining funds are sent, can I just scan that and email it to someone?" 

"Sure, but you actually have to send that via regular mail."

*sigh* "Ok, where do I send it?

*agent gives me the address*

"Ok I'll put it in the mail today, thanks!"

Sure, it seemed a silly roundabout way to close my account, but whatever, I'll wait however long it takes.

A couple weeks passed and I noticed that while I could still log on to online banking, my accounts had apparently been closed, so hey, it worked! Now to just wait for the check...except it never came!

3 weeks after my initial call, I called back and explained the situation again. 

"Hi, I closed my account by mailing this form to some place in Texas, and my accounts appear to have been closed, but I never got anything in the mail."

"Ok, I see you called on the 7th, so yes you definitely should have received something by now!"


"Ok, I can put a research out on this, and they'll put a stop payment on the check, wherever it is, and I'll have them send you a new one."

"Ok, remember, send it to my NEW address. This is the address I put on your form, but someone apparently ignored it, or it got lost in the mail or something."

"Yes yes, ok what's your new address?"

*give my address*

"Ok, thank you."

"Read that back to me please."

*reads it back correctly*

"Ok thanks. Now when can I expect this?"

"The research will take 3-5 business days, and then you'll get the check within 7-10 business days."

"Uh...was hoping to get it before the first of the month. That's why I called weeks ago. I didn't do anything wrong, and pretty soon I'll have to pay bills. Any way I can get it faster than that?"

"Uh uhh *struggling to pull head out from ass* 3-5 and 7-10 is the maximum, it will most likely come sooner than that!"

*sigh* "Ok, well I'm still not happy, but as long as I eventually get it I guess that's all I can do."

So despite having basically 0 headaches for years, apparently as soon as I needed anything beyond "withdraw/deposit money" several bureaucratic hoops were presented for me to gracefully jump through. The way I see it, there should be 3 steps.

1. Call and make request to close account and have funds mailed.

2. Prove that I am me, and not an impostor.

3. Get account closed, and have funds mailed.

But I guess their internal procedure includes a million little in-between steps performed by people with minimal training/reading competency, with no repercussions in the event they fuck something up.

So, 5 business days passed, then 10 more. This is the maximum amount of time (it will most likely come sooner than that!! HA HA) and I checked the mail. Nothing. He read my address back to me. I told him exactly what I needed, and where to send it. He seemed to understand. What the FUCK was the problem? This was such a simple request! Surely I am not the first to close an account and have funds mailed somewhere else! What part of this process was confusing to the people handling it? 

I've worked phone customer service before, so I try to be patient with these people, but after waiting for over a month, and having my budget stretched extremely thin through no fault of my own, my patience was gone. At this point, my first paycheck from my new job was only a few days away, so there was no more sense of urgency, although that money would've been really nice to have to hold me over!! 

I had periodically been logging into online banking to see if there was anything worth noting, and hadn't seen anything, but after the 15 business day window, I logged back on to see if maybe I could attack their customer service from another angle. But what's this? An alert, that they had mailed me something, and it had been returned to them? Oh look, they mailed it to my BROOKLYN ADDRESS. Despite me putting my Tennessee address on the form. Despite giving the guy on the phone my Tennessee address, and being explicit about the fact that I had moved, and to confirm he had my address correct. Nope, they STILL tried Brooklyn. I must've been talking to this guy:

So despite my accounts being closed, I was able to change my address to my new one online (if I had done that weeks ago, would this have all been avoided?) I then sent a message detailing this whole fiasco, while heroically STILL managing to avoid swearing. Multiple times throughout the message I gave them my Tennessee address, and mentioned that I. HAD. MOVED. And to please let me know what I could possibly do to get through to somebody that all I needed was my remaining balance mailed to me. 

I received a reply the next day, basically telling me exactly what the guy on the phone had told me before. Since that had gotten me nowhere, I replied immediately, saying "that action was already taken with no result. Can you confirm you have my new address, and can you confirm you will call me or email me?" I got another reply the next day, confirming they have started research on this issue and will get back to me. Their reply did not confirm my new address. Their reply did not confirm my email. Only that "they would contact me as soon as they can." It has been 4 days and still nothing. 

Time to start keeping my money under the fucking mattress.