Chaseing: My Tale

7 11 2009

I’m sitting on the floor on this gray Saturday morning and eating cereal.  This state of serenity is in direct contrast to the rest of my week, which has been hectically delicious.  Besides job stuff (good) and bank stuff (awful), I’ve had some satisfying moments.  Filling out application forms for a job after you’ve gotten it makes not a lot of sense to me, but it did feel like I was writing my future down.  Speaking of futures, I don’t think Chase has much of one with me.  Here are my adventures with the new and improved WaMu: (it rhymes if you say it rhythmically)

About a month ago, my Dad gave me a heads-up to change my account before Washing Mutual officially discarded the last remnants of its old glory and became Chase.  By “change my account,” this is what he meant.  Washington Mutual had two free checking accounts.  Their standard “Free Checking” account, which I had been using since 2005, and a more recent account that went by the name “WaMu Free Checking” on the register.  While I at first thought my Dad had been misinformed, a quick look and a phone call confirmed that these two accounts did indeed exist.  The important part of this distinction is that, after this banking empire effects its transition completely to Chase (as it has now done), those with a simple “Free Checking” account will no longer be able to order new checks free of charge.  Those with a special “WaMu Free Checking” account, however, will still receive that benefit when Chase establishes its first galactic empire.

So, all I need to do, Dad says, is call Washington Mutual and ask to get my account changed into a “WaMu Free Checking” account.  This seems simple enough, and multiple people have told me that I can do this.  So, I give them a call.

It becomes quickly apparent to me that I am not really talking to “Frank” from “Caleeforneeah.”  Nonetheless, the customer service rep seems to know what I am requesting to have done.  I prolong the conversation for a minute or two just to subtly reiterate what it is I want done, why I want it (Free Checks!), and that I really appreciate the fact that “Frank” is going to do this and that is very nice of him thank you sir yes it is no problem at all thank you for calling Washington Mutual goodbye.

A couple of weeks later, I make a deposit in person at Chase.  Lately, I have noticed online that my account is now a “Free Classic Checking” account.  As I have no idea how this relates to the former two Washington Mutual accounts, I ask the teller if my requested change had taken place.  (When I talked to the rep on the phone, he told me the switch might take a week or so.)  She said, “I don’t think it did…mine says something different, and I made sure my account changed like that too.”

So, I asked, how can I go about getting “Frank” fired from his job in “Caleeforneeah” and my account made free as the days are short these days?  She suggested I go take a seat in their “lobby” (see: Chairs by those desks) and wait for someone more knowledgeable to help me.  I do so, and the next employee quickly informs me that, if the account has not been changed by now, there is no possible way to do so.  I believe her, but also mentioned my grievance with a certain rep (name of Frank) and his assurance that my account would be changed.  She suggests that I (surprise!) call their corporate phone number and ask for a supervisor and see if they have a record/recording of the call itself.  Since I happen to remember the date of the call, she seems hopeful that I might be able to get something done.

So I call the same number as I did a couple of weeks ago, and immediately ask for a supervisor.  After a minute or so of hold time (which was profusely apologized for by the new rep), I get a supervisor who clearly has no time for me.  Granted, I am asking for a likely-overworked telephone customer service supervisor to tell me why I can’t get free pieces of paper anymore, but I’m far beyond the actual purpose of the whole thing by now.  It’s the principle of the thing.  And speaking of principles, one of mine is that customer service people ought to treat their callers as civilly as possible, even if they are tired and busy and not in the mood to talk to Robert about his dumb little problem that is really insignificant.  It’s their job.

Of course, the supervisor says her hands are tied.  WaMu is dead, the phone recordings have all been purged (her word), and she has absolutely nothing to offer me.  I try to throw out an awkward sentence or two to the effect of “Oh, so I guess, even though the error was made on your end, you can’t really do anything” and “Yeah, I guess that you really only have my word that this conversation actually took place,” but it’s useless.  She is all but huffing and puffing me off the phone, and I have clearly reached the end of what I can accomplish through polite inquiry.  Having no desire to fly into a perhaps-justified indignant rage over free checks, I awkwardly thank her for her time, and hang up.

My day would have continued as normal, if not for the kicker:

Now that Chase is in charge of all my moneys and dollars, they have a new and improved rule on deposits:  Even if I go to the bank and make a deposit in person, those funds are not available until the next day. This is ridiculous.  I  understand their reasoning behind withholding part of a deposit made into an ATM, since they need to verify the amount, but what’s the point of keeping my money from me after I’ve gone to the trouble of depositing it?  In fact, do you know what this means?  It means, if I need to have that money on hand that same day, I have to cash the check for its full amount, then take the cash and deposit it into the account. Of course, they might hold that deposit too.  In fact, even if they don’t, it is clearly more advantageous for me to simply cash the check and walk out the door anyway.  Thus, Chase has clearly accomplished its goal.

Assuming, of course, that their goal is to make using their bank more cumbersome than just carrying around large sums of cash in the first place.

I’m gonna go buy a huge briefcase.