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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banks and Customer service,do they even go together any more!?


Recently I have been so fed up with Banks in general, today it got to the point I had to get rude with some one.

To start off my dislike for banks First United Bank has been my bank for years now, I had a joint account with my first husband and when we divorced I took the brunt of some pretty messy check issues in order to get my paycheck (which was being held at the bank until one of us took full responsibility for the account). In the end I spent about three years chasing beer checks across Bryan county because I had no idea he had written the checks. Once it was all said and done I was pretty over the idea of a check book. Divorce can be messy in a lot of ways but the bank accounts I think was the worst of it.  By the time I had it all sorted and all the checks paid up I was pretty protective of my bank account. I check it daily and make sure that things are as they should be.

To make me even more anti-banks my  X knew our account number by heart, and he had a friend at the bank. During those first couple of years when he didn't pay any child support at all if I ever ask him to help buy anything for the girls he would quote me my bank balance and assure me I had the money to pay for their stuff.  He even once showed me a print out of my bank statement. Turns out his friend at the bank was telling him what ever he wanted to know about my account.

After Stephen and I were married over a year someone at the local branch offered to password protect my account so that not even a bank employee could access my account with out the password. They offered this because Stephen had refused to be added to my account because of my X constantly knowing what my balance was. Now I receive an email any time that some one tries to access my account with out the password. That first week I had over 20 emails, the emails have drastically reduced in the last couple of   years but I still get one every now and then. It amazes me that five years after the fact he still attempts to check my bank statements.

A few months ago Stephen discovered Photoshelter, a website that will host photography sells and do most of the hard parts for you for a small fee. Well it was working great until First United started blocking the payments to Photoshelter. We couldn't figure out the problem because the money was in the account but the payments where being declined. It turns out that a lot of banks are blocking all credit card transactions from several states, a few countries and specific merchants because of a large amount of fraud coming from those states.

We have been on the phone repeatedly with FU trying to get them to process these payments. I was getting irritated with the whole issue but I do understand why they are doing it. I however feel that if a customer calls and says look I authorize this payment to this company then the bank should allow the payment. FU insist that they can not lift the block for any reason.

It all came to a head the other day when Stephen spoke to his two sons and they ask him to add minutes to the pre-paid phone that he gave them. The transaction was declined, even after Stephen spent an hour on the phone to the UK trying to sort it all out the phone company couldn't get the transaction to process. Turns out transactions from the UK have been blocked as well! This was the last draw with FU for Stephen. 

Stephen has gotten so fed up that he has opened a new account with Vision bank and as soon as the ATM card comes in the mail he will be moving his pay check to there. Vision bank seems sure that if we call and authorize a payment through a blocked agent that they can lift the block for one transaction at a time. This means us calling once a month but that is better than having out account frozen because the bank is to lazy to spend the time to authorize the payments.

Now I am reluctent to end a long time account with FU because it is simply comfortable to stay where I am at. However Stephen's name is on that account and mine is on his new account at Vision bank. On Thursday my X decied to make a partial payment on his very delinquent child support. I haven't complained much about his lateness or partial payments because I realize how difficult it is to go from Active Duty Army pay to a crappy job at Dish Network that pays about a third of what the army pays. Any way I was in Durant and near Vision bank so I figured I would deposit the payment into Vision and keep part of it to take the kids for tacos. I pulled into the drive through. and put the money order, a deposit slip and my ID into the little tube and send it on.  I noticed that there is no other cars in the drive through at all, and about three employees mingling around inside the drive through window. As soon as my tube hits their desk all of the employees disappear. About 15 min later I start getting frustrated and text Stephen  "IDK about this bank, I am the only one in the drive through, three missing employees and 15 minutes they didn't even say hello when they got my tube" . Another 5 minutes and some guy strolls up to the window, drops the tube into the machine to send it back to me and walks away before the tube ever get st to me.  Now at least FU tellers say hello to you when they get your tube and tell you thanks and have a nice day when they send the tube back.  I mean come on a little politeness  isn't a lot to ask for.So even though Vision bank gives you 3.6% interest on your checking account and they seem to think our payments will be put through I am really not happy about the lack of customer service skills that their tellers seem to offer.

So to top off my bank frustrations we received a check in the mail a few days ago from a customer wanting to purchase a disk. This morning we had to got to Denison to pick up some photos that we had in this gallery. So Stephen says oh we need to cash this check too. Now typically we don't deposit customer checks into our account. The reason behind this is if the customer writes us a check and it don't clear the bank, if I have put that check into my account I am then responsible for giving my bank back that money. So I take customer checks to their bank to cash them. This customer wrote a check from American Bank of Texas. We pull up to the drive through window, put the check that was made out to Stephen Olner Photography and Stephen's  military dependent ID into the tube and send it on. The teller leaves and returns to inform us that because the check is made out to a business and we don't have an account with them then they can give us a Cashier's Check but not cash! What the Heck!  I was not happy and said look it is not like the check is written to Wal-Mart, it is written to a buisness that is his name and you have a government issed ID proving he is that person. She refused to cash the check so I ask for a manager. The teller leaves and returns to say that I can come inside and see a manager but the manager refuses to come to the drive through window! What!!!! So I drive around and go inside. I was heated by then because the gallery closes at noon and we where going to not make it in time to pick up our photos.

I explained to the manager a little banking 101, the purpose in having a checking account is so that a person can write a check to a business or individual and then the business or individual can present the check to the bank and get their money. The manager insisted that because we don't have an account there, the check is written to a business and we have no proof that we are the business owners then they can't give us cash. I explained to her in less than nice tone that first of all the check is written to Stephen Olner Photography and the Stephen's ID, which was issued to him by Uncle Sam clearly indicates that he is STEPHEN OLNER! How much more cut and dry can it be, come on now its not like the check was made out to some buisness that didn't include Stephen's name.

This manager says to me that until I work in the banking industry I dont understand what all people will do to commit fraud. Hello she don't know what my background is. I see fraud all the time at my job, I also have delt with people giving me checks for a long time and not always are they valid checks. This would be why I don't cash customer checks through my account! 

The woman starts listing all this proof that we can provide, she wants some form that proves we work under an alias name...what the hell this isnt an alias its the darn name his partents gave  him when he was born!!!
 I informed her that if I wanted her to have my personal information then I would open an account with their bank but as I don't choose to have an account with their bank a government ID is more than enough to prove who Stephen is. This woman actually had the nerve to say "so why don't you just take the check to your bank".  As I told her, my bank is not in Denison but I am and I don't cash customer checks through my bank I cash them through the bank it is written from.

I turned to Stephen and said  we are not taking any more checks written on American Bank of Texas, not that  I can understand why anyone would want an account with a bank that offers no customer service what so ever. The woman's eyes about popped out of her head, she opened her mouth to say something but seemed to be lacking for anything to say and finally came up with "that is a matter of opinion" ...whooo hooooo as if that bothers me at all. I really dont think I will be accepting checks from their bank ever again.

All the while Stephen is standing there arms crossed watching as if he wants to burst out laughing at this woman who is close to seeing me get really mad. Stephen invites her to look up Stephen Olner Photography on the net. She finally accepts this web site that by the way don't even have his photo on it, as proof that Stephen Olner Photography is a real company.

Now when we got home this manager had sent Stephen an email to say how sorry she was that it was such an inconvienance but really isnt that a bit late as I had to waiste all that time and be late getting to where I needed to be.

I really just wonder if banks in general give a crap about customer service at all. I mean really people depend on their banks to take in money, make payments, feed their families and put gas in their cars, all through what ever bank their hard earned money goes into. If we as customers attempt to make a payment to a business or individual we shouldnt have to worry about if the bank will honor a valid request when the money is in the bank. Banks may be essential in this day with direct depsites and all but I am ready to close them down and go back to the days where we all deal in cash!

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