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Bring It

October 29, 2008 | Category: Rants & Raves

After me and X broke up, I had to go get a bank account. I didn't want to, because it would be a bank account without him - without anyone else. My own, alone.

We all get gifts/burdens with our spin on the Earth. My mom? Can get a smokin' hott parking space everywhere she goes. I swear, people seem to race out just to move so she won't have to walk more than 10 feet on a rainy day. On the other hand, that woman has been in so many car accidents and tickets that it's bizarre.

Me? I can get a job. I would say it's because I work so frigging hard - and that's part of it, because I really do. But the truth is that opportunities often seem to mesh for me in a way that sometimes feels crazy lucky. On the flip side? Outside of work, bureaucracies HATE me.

Don't believe me? Go with me to the DMV, the bank, and then just for laughs, we'll head over to ComEd. If it's in MY name - it's f*cked beyond all recognition.

No, really.

It's the stuff of legend.

For years, the people who knew me secretly (OK, not-so-secretly) thought I must be an utter flake. Payments would go awry, paperwork would be screwed up, and accounts would shriek red the moment I opened them.

When the X and I split, so many years ago, this is why I was terrified to open a bank account alone. It took me over a year before I broke down and did it - but to safety my bet, I chose a small neighborhood bank where the only bureaucracy was two women in glass offices and a Customer Service guy named Dave.

They were stellar. For 7 years, my little slice of heaven. Credit Cards would hose up, the IRS would audit me, and the DMV sent me chasing 10-year-old tickets. But Baby Bank and I were going steady, and it was F-I-N-E.

Until they were eaten by a mid-sized regional bank. And then, trouble started. I was able to stay on top of it - but just barely. Fees that I was told wouldn't apply to my kind of account hit my bottom line. Checks I deposited started taking 4 and 5 days to clear. Online banking payments would take up to a week to process.

Then National City came along and ate THAT bank - and I was utterly hosed. Over $700 was assessed against my account in 6 months.

Yes, you read that right.

Welcome to the third tier of bureaucratic hell, the coffee machine is over there. I've got a futon if you're staying.

The bounce protection was magically removed from my account. Direct deposits took time to clear, charges were made after deposits were somehow reversed, and charges that had no explanation at all sent me negative for the first time in years. $34 per this, $19 for that.

On August 9, CD and I headed into the Riverside Branch, sat down in front of a guy in a tie, and said "Close the Damn Account."

He nodded and made it so without argument. Smart man.

Except? Stupid man.

I got home from Boston to discover that he never actually closed the account and some charge for $10 the following week made us negative (because, you see, when you close an account you don't leave them your money.) Then, National Bank assessed us an $8 charge PER DAY for being negative. And then tried to dun us for the whole thing.

I've been trying to fix it for a month, and today I did something I never do in dealing with people - I raised my voice. I raised it LOUD. I told the pseudo-manager at the branch that it was her responsibility to fix it - and fix it NOW.

Yes, I know we live in Bush's America. I get that the lone citizen against the Corporation ain't got a chance.

But you know what?

I'm a frigging grown-up. I pay taxes. I don't freak when a cop pulls behind me in traffic, because I'm pretty much always abiding the law. I've been to college, university, Bible Study, and corporate seminars. I've delivered mid-8 figure projects on time, hired and fired, changed my name and back, and given birth. I have crow's feet, a 401(k), and summer clothes packed in cloves in the basement.

So pseudo-managers at bureaucracies may still mess with me - but they've utterly lost their ability to intimidate me. When they continue to TRY, it does nothing but aggravate my waning patience.

I'm sitting here, feeling bad that I shouted at the pseudo-manager. But on the other hand, I doubt she feels bad about trying to throw me over a fence while my credit rating took a hit.

No, it's never OK to be unkind, we're all God's children and all that.

Maybe it's this stupid cyst in my brain, I don't know. But between you and me? I told this woman exactly how to fix this problem. I told her clearly. And when she resisted taking responsibility, I told her loudly.

I'm gonna feel bad about it later. But for right now, damn, I feel good. Is that bad?

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Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life
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After all that frustration of dealing with the bank-- I can completely understand why that felt so good!

I hope you're documenting all of this and writing a letter to the bank.

Posted by: Karen Putz on November 8, 2008 08:20 AM

good for you! it always amazes me how customer service reps are stunned if you actually stand up to them. my dad has a policy--he never gets upset, he just keeps asking for their supervisor. someone has to have the capability to help him, so he just keeps climbing the ladder. calmly. lol

hope everything sorts itself out.

Posted by: Amanda on October 30, 2008 11:08 AM

Absolutely not! There are times that call for you to get loud and this was one of them. How can they charge you for something if you don't have an account there anymore. Sheesh!

Posted by: Christina on October 30, 2008 10:58 AM

NO. You weren't abusive or vulgar, and having worked CS for a number of years, I can say that that puts you above far too many people who call in with problems. They *weren't* doing their job, and it was their responsibility to fix it. Falling short of your own standards of compassion is a completely understandable response to their screw-ups, plus I doubt that you were even the most troubling client of her morning.

The most insidious problem with bureaucracies is that they're all too often set up so that the system is always right, and if the system doesn't have a pre-made solution for your issue, you're irrevocably wrong. *And* you're asking them to change the system, which makes you a troublemaker and a suspect.

Good on you for sticking up for yourself in all the ways that were needed (and sometimes a firmly raised voice is needed), and congratulations for not being intimidated by it. (a problem I've been struggling with this week WRT health insurance. Sigh.)

Posted by: Alice on October 30, 2008 09:50 AM

Do NOT feel bad. If I were faced with the issue, I would have utterly lost it. They obviously weren't thinking about customer service were they? The fact that the pseudomanager got an earful from you may benefit others in that she may "speak" to the rest of the branch to make sure to follow through on tasks to completion.

Posted by: Grace on October 30, 2008 08:19 AM