marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

I'm tired of thinking a business might finally be correcting course (see anything I've written about Comcast, which uses bait-and-switch tactics for basic income flow the same way AOL uses their pitiful remnant of remaining dial-up customers) only to have them turn tail on me as soon as I say nice things about them and try to get on with my life.

Case in point: yes, Comcast has taken back my credits on last month's bill. Yes! Again. For something like three months running they've gleefully pulled this Lucy at Charlie Brown "I promise I won't pull the football away" trick. I'm thinking I'm not going to fight it directly, but still might give them one more call for Old Time's sake, because how am I supposed to go more than a few weeks without calling them? I wouldn't be me anymore, not after playing almost three solid years of their games.

When I call it'll be just like good Old Times: they'll offer me the world, or at least to fix what they've done wrong, I'll get all weak-kneed and goo-goo eyed at such soothing promises, then as usual they won't fix it and I'll have to call them back because for the thousandth time they've lied to me again, but then instead of duking it out with them, this time I'll pursue some other option. It is that time of year, after all, when I do things like that.

And nope, I don't mean another blog. At least not anytime soon. But I can't say exactly what I might or might not do (because I'm still too white-hot-mad to think about it; it can take time for me to stop boiling and start planning) only that it shall be dealt with.

In the meantime, the lovely folks at BoA who I'll never trust again have finally agreed, after hours of phone calls over the span of the last three days, to rescind the $12 fee for a check I asked the check writer to cancel last week and (after many more calls, call transfers and hold-wait times) to lift the hold on the new check the check writer wrote to replace the cancelled one. So they finally made things right.

But they should never have done those things. If it's "illegal", as one rep told me a little over a week ago, for their bank to accept a check without endorsements on the back of it, then what are they charging a $12 fee to process it for? Why are their ATMs even programmed to accept checks without endorsements? If their ATMs can "read" the front of a check - and boy, they sure can - then their ATMs can "read" the back of a check and spit the damn thing out if it looks blank; it can't be that hard, really.

So if I've got this straight, they'll accept a check that's illegal to accept, then charge a $12 fee for what every rep has told me is "processing", though it's illegal for them to process it in the first place, right? I mean, I can see a good lawyer in my future should I choose to pursue this - which just for fuck's sake, I might - because I've got reps basically admitting to me that BoA is breaking the law by "processing" unendorsed checks.

Besides getting this check mess straightened out, we also managed to sell a few hundred dollars worth of stuff this week, but because work isn't what it should be - that's all around - we'll still barely make rent. And by "barely", I mean next week's lack of budget - there's nothing left after paying rent to budget for - is enough to make me not know whether to laugh or cry. Because of that I've resorted, as usual, to drinking (because I might just do both, which scares me).

But once the rent's paid and Other Person's phone gets renewed next week I'm leaving that fucking bank. It's down to Gulf Winds or some other credit union now because I'm done with Bank of America, done done done. No one has the right to deny me the use of my money, or to take it away from me, especially on what's possibly their totally illegal whim.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

I have other things I could - would - actually did plan to write about - but Bank of America is so much taking the cake lately that they're getting their very own post, because I've had it. First of all, don't ever forget to endorse the back of a check. I did; that's what started me on this odyssey, and my special trip through all the many circles of hell just won't quit.

The check was someone else's, given to me to cash or deposit. I tend to deposit everything - like a squirrel, I just keep chucking it all away, mostly for the rent (which I have no chance of paying on time this month, thanks to this clusterfuck).

But my specialty is forgetting to endorse checks. That said, I endorse most of them, if around 80% of them counts as "most", and if endorsing them seconds before depositing them in the ATM or handing them back to the teller after they remind me counts as "remembering to endorse them".

I've had tellers reminding me since I was 19. Obviously it's never going to sink in that I need to endorse All The Checks before cashing or depositing them, though I think this incident has taught me better, not that it matters now.

The first check in question was from a person who forgot to sign it, then I forget to ask him to. Then I forgot to sign it myself and deposited the damn thing. Not in the bank - in the outdoor ATM, because I have a BoA account where if you merely walk in the door you get charged $7 for approaching the teller, so I tend to stay the fuck away from walking in the door, for that very reason. So this time there was no teller to catch my mistake and remind me to endorse it and to get it endorsed by the other person.

Leave it to me to not be more than 10 feet away from the ATM when I turned back in horror - it hit me exactly then that we'd both forgotten to endorse the check.

Way to go, my memory. It was outside normal banking hours so $7 charge or not, there was no teller because the bank wasn't even open. So I called the BoA ATM check clearance center as soon as I got home to see if they could return the check for me to endorse before actually depositing it, or if they'd accept it without any signatures (I've had this account for 10 years, so they should know me and my inability to remember to sign anything, by now).

No go on either idea - the big ol' Loomis truck would be coming at 8am to clear the ATM out, then off to a clearance center the check would go, but it's against the law for the bank to accept a check without proper endorsements, so that check was coming back to me one way or another, like it or not. The fact that it was a third party check probably only further complicated matters.

Calling again the next day, I learned the check would take at least 3-5 days to come back as undepositable over lack of endorsements, and another some-odd days to be processed inside of the bank, at which point the bank would either call or snail mail me to come to the bank to sign a legal copy of the check that they'd provide, then I'd have to deposit it again, as the first check couldn't be accepted.

And my rent is due. Now. I don't have time for all this, so I called the person who wrote the check and asked if he could cancel it and write me another one. Well, that would cost him $30 if he went in his bank (which is not BoA), or he could do it for free online that night. So I told him I'd wait.

He gave word the next day that the check was cancelled. He said he'd write another one the following Friday (which was two days ago). I told him that was fine.

The next day BoA levied a $12 fee over the check he cancelled. Though I'm not the one who canceled the check, BoA charged me $12 because he cancelled it. I'm still trying to figure out why I get charged $12 when another person chooses to take their checks back, a situation that could be out of my control (though it wasn't this time; it was by choice, but what happens when someone takes a check back and it's not my choice?).

I've known the check writer for years so I should've thought you can take whatever he says with a grain of salt because he's so unreliable. Sure enough, Friday turned into Saturday and then into Sunday before he got the check to me. I rushed off to the bank with it, only to see a "Hold" notice across the bottom of the receipt - the check won't clear for a minimum of 10 days (Nov. 9th is the seemingly random and totally bullshit date they chose).

Absolutely shocked - I've never had an ATM hold before, and I deposit payroll checks, personal checks, tiny settlement checks all the time - I called the same clearance center again only to be told they couldn't "see" it'd been deposited on their side, so to call back another time. They didn't say when, so I suggested "tomorrow" and they sounded game enough, but still unsure. And yes, he was American, based in Arkansas, according to the canned script he read off to me.

The amount on the check, plus whatever comes in this week from jobs and selling, was the only way the rent would have been paid on time (and by "on time", I mean by the 5th, without it being "late", but we're not even going to make the 5th now). I really, really tried, and that even though it's been such a horrible month. I had to return food to the store just to have enough money to do anything else this week, that's how bad it's gotten.

The lease calls for a $50 late fee for running even one day late. We've never been late, and I sort of pride myself on paying on time, even if my phone spends half a year on average shut off for lack of funds and I just pay Comcast whenever because screw them, really, and I go without however many meals a day almost every day of the year just to pay the bills.

But paying the rent late? Not down with that at all.

Before the hold I was going to call BoA tomorrow, anyhow, about the $12 chargeback fee on the last version of this check, since I don't see why I should have to pay for someone else to choose to cancel their own checks, so while I'm on the phone with them about that I'm going to see if I can get the hold lifted, but I'm not holding my breath.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

I love happy endings, and after slugging it out twice with PayPal for over an hour the other day (got transferred multiple times and had to escalate through three tiers of tech support) and slugging it out thrice today with my bank (got transferred multiple times and had to call back again; thank you for the interoffice email that you'd be away through the 27th, Elliott, and enjoy the holiday; thanks to your absence I sure will!) my problems with eBay, PayPal and my bank are finally resolved.

To recap, last week I bought two gifts from eBay that came to not even $20 using what I thought was the Bill Me Later feature of PayPal, with only $3 in PayPal and a $30 transfer en route from one bank to another via yet another PayPal I created shortly after completing the purchase and realizing that, whoops, I have the wrong bank account linked to my PayPal so I need to get money in it somehow, quick.

I knew the transfer would take 1-2 days to complete but with Bill Me Later I thought I was covered. But after placing my eBay orders I noticed the $3 I had in PayPal was missing, literally lost in transit. I needed the $3 to repay on a loan from another BoA user (I transfer money right from my account to theirs, which is fee-free, instantaneous and overall a rather neat thing to be able to do) so I began to fret about how I could not find the money (which this person can attest to).

The next day - roughly two days after completing my eBay purchase - I opened up an email from my bank on my lunch hour and learned Bill Me Later must have billed me right now, because I was the new, unproud owner of not just one but two $35 overdraft fees and I was short the two purchase amounts on eBay. I finally found my $3, though! It was applied to the price of one of the eBay items I'd purchased. Yes, I had to go back to work after seeing that and there was nothing I could do for three more days owing to my bizarre work schedule, which was frustrating.

I couldn't wait, so somehow I managed to carve out enough time yesterday to get the PayPal angle of it dealt with. The first tier of tech support was all, "Wow, really? Let me transfer you" so I had to start again with the equivalent of Tier Two (which sent me to the department that handles nothing but Bill Me Later). This person was much more competent, sympathetic and actually managed to explain what happened after rifling through my purchase records for 15 minutes with multiple hold times. There was no record of me being a Bill Me Later user, she said. But - what? Wait, I paid for my laptop that way, I responded. Don't you see my laptop in your records? The one I bought off eBay earlier this year?

After another few minutes hold time she couldn't find it. So I logged into PayPal while still on the phone with her and went through my archives and wtf, I couldn't find it, either. Now I had to tell her to hold on while I pulled down 2014, and sure enough, there it was, in December. She put me on hold again while she went through her archives but at first she had no luck, so I gave her the username of the person I bought the laptop off of and the amount and finally we were on the same page, but it still wasn't on Bill Me Later.

But I had two weeks to pay for it, I said. I paid for it after something like five days because I was happy with it - well, except for the power cord. He gave me $20 back for it, and that's in my archives, too. She saw that it was, but none of it was on Bill Me Later. Then what was it on? I persisted.

It was on Pay After Delivery, she said.

They're not the same thing? I ventured, feeling myself flush.

No, those are two different delayed payment systems PayPal has, as it turns out. Well, if I was set up for Pay After Delivery, shouldn't PAD have not taken money from me until I actually got those things? I thought that's how it works.

More hold time, then she came back to say it was impossible to determine why I had been billed instantly with Pay After Delivery, but that it was either a system error or possible that the sellers I bought from don't accept Pay After Delivery. We went over my coupon code, and she read the terms on it from her end and determined it wasn't mucking up the gears. At that point there was nothing more she could do so she transferred me to Claims, who also told me there was nothing more they could do but that they'd write letters about each transaction and send them directly to my email, to give to my bank.

In the meantime I got an email from my bank saying if I didn't deposit money by about the time I'm now writing this post I'd be overdrafted another $35 for not putting money in to cover my eBay purchases and the resultant $70 in overdraft fees. Just. Oh. My. God, they're charging me $110 for $18 worth of stuff!!!

And I couldn't get the letters to the bank because I live too far away and couldn't get a ride in time to meet the deadline. And after an hour I still never got the letters, so I had to call PayPal again and ask them to at least email them before the end of the business day so I could call my bank to ask them to what to do about not being able to show up in person in time to avoid my next overdraft fee. This time the rep made sure the letters arrived in my PayPal Message Center and that I was able to physically open them before he hung up.

By then it was too late to do anything except call the bank and see if they would handle the fee reversal that the letters requested by phone, but the rep said faxing was the only way to get it done. Ah, antique 1980 technology, may you one day rest in peace. For a brief moment there was panic over what I'd do about a fax machine, but it turned out there's one in the living room. That it was it for yesterday, so fast forward to today, when I called the bank again to get a fax number to send PayPal's letters to them. But my branch wouldn't let me send them the fax and insisted upon transferring me to "Customer Service". Then Customer Service transferred me to Claims so I could actually get the number to send the faxes - another 20 minutes of wasted time.

And no matter what we did on our end, we couldn't get the fax machine to work. I already had another household member handling my portion of making Christmas dinner because I was too tied up on the phone and the fax, which had no telephone cord, as it turned out after 20 minutes of faffing with the fucking thing. So the person who owns the fax machine had to basically rewire the house find the cord and plug it in, which was an adventure in itself given the tangled, 75 foot long nature of this thing that winds in and out of three different rooms. Then, thanks to 1980 technology, we had at least two '280x. Cannot Transmit' errors along with many hangups. Finally the damn letters got where they were going.

Not convinced sending the faxes would solve my problem, I called the bank back (I was talking to Claims at this point, a rather small department by BoA standards) and asked the rep if the Elliott I was supposed to send these faxes to had gotten them yet. He's the Regional Manager for claims in my area and had to make the decision to refund my money himself. Well, we have to wait for the faxes to transmit, he said, at which point war broke out in the kitchen as three of us started saying at once that they they didn't have to wait for anything as faxes transmit instantaneously and it had been several minutes since I sent the fax. This was followed by much laughter (on our part) and indignation, and probably embarrassed the claims rep I was talking to, but I can't help it if I like to do my business on speakerphone.

Then he put me on hold to check if Elliott was around ("Of course he's 'around'", I said, "I was told he'd be in the office all day!") then came back to say Elliott was not around. But I was told he's in the office, by the last claim rep I spoke to. Well, he's not in the office now, the rep said. Well, how is that possible? I asked. Hold on, he said, I'm going to check interoffice email. I understand you were told he'd be here all day, but I honestly don't think he's here now. A few minutes later he got back on the phone paraphrasing an email he was reading to himself that said Elliott would be out of the office through the 27th. The 27th, I said? Are you kidding? I get another $35 overdraft fee by tonight or tomorrow if this doesn't get fixed - that's $110 I paid for less than $20 worth of stuff! - so I've got to get this fixed. I can't wait until the 27th! Don't you have a replacement for Elliott?

Well, I uh, hold on ma'am - as you say, someone should be around to take his place, and I assure you any additional fees you incur can be fixed, so please don't worry, he said, trying to assure me, while I went on in total incredulity about the missing Elliott and his possibly missing replacement. After another few minutes while he tried to find Elliott's replacement and apparently could not even find his ghost, he went ahead and rescinded the charges himself. I have over $13 in my BoA now, yo. This means my balance is no longer in the double digits red I hated so much.

A few nice things that came out of this: As an added precaution to future-proof myself against PayPal, I now have both bank accounts linked to the PayPal that's linked to my eBay - both the broke-ass survey-money-only account (that's my BoA) and the one that actually, like, has money in it. Aaaand I can pay my friend back a little quicker now as a result of having the second PayPal account that I created during this mess to transfer money from my non-BoA bank directly to my BoA (so I can literally transfer money from one bank to another; If I had known to do this months ago when I had to make the same friend a huge payment, I could have saved myself about $120 in bank transfer fees, which is just somewhat less than what I still owe her now).

As for Pay After Delivery, while me and the second, helpful PayPal rep were able to confirm I used it to pay for my laptop, it was not set up on my account as of today and possibly last week when I unwittingly bought things thinking it was. I have no idea how it unset itself as my default payment. I also never found out why I briefly got an account suspended message on eBay, but as the items are delivered, I guess everything's OK. Now.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

So I had a $10 off coupon code for eBay and decided to use it maybe two nights ago to buy a few gifts for someone. My total came to not even $20. I'm on Bill Me Later on eBay/Paypal (or at least, I was when I bought my laptop, which was the last thing I bought from them this year, perhaps back in February).

My eBay is tied to my BoA, which had just $3 in it, but I hadn't thought about that before I bought these things. Once it did hit me - a few minutes later - I figured it didn't matter because with Bill Me Later I should have a few weeks to either get money in my BoA account or else switch my payment method to my other bank, which gets direct deposit from my job (the BoA mostly just collects small amounts of work-online money).

In the meantime, I needed the $3 I had in my BoA to repay on a loan I've been working off since the spring, so I was waiting for the transfer I started the night before I bought this stuff to complete, but it never did, so I'm like, OK, wtf.

Fast forward to today...I'm checking email on my lunch hour when I learned PayPal took the $3 out of my BoA after it transferred from PayPal to my bank but before I ever saw it, to pay $3 on one of the items I bought on eBay. Then my bank slapped me with a $35 insufficient funds fee on both items, so now I'm out something like $85 for stuff I bought using Bill Me Later. Instead, they billed me right now.

I'm not sure who to be pissed at because I don't have time to call either company or the bank to figure out what went wrong or get it fixed until sometime mid-next week. As far as I can tell, it's not my bank's fault, they're just bleeding me dry like banks will do (though why they charged me two overdraft fees on one eBay order is beyond me; maybe because I bought items from two different sellers?). I'm also not sure whether to blame PayPal or eBay for the fact that Bill Me Later billed me right now. I read all the fine print on the coupon code that I could find, so I'm hoping it can't be that using the coupon code prohibits using Bill Me Later, but I guess that's also a possibility.

A weird thing that happened before I got killed by my bank was when I put the first item in my eBay cart, I got a yellow triangle next to the cart and an in-page dialog box saying my account was suspended. I really didn't think much of it because it's not suspended (but when I saw the dialog box I checked my messages, profile and other info just to make sure) then I figured the site must be having a coding burp of some sort, so I put the second item in my cart, and on the next page the yellow triangle was gone with a green checkmark in its place and I was able to place the order without further issue.

Telling someone else about this tonight, they suggested that even if the account suspension was a coding burp of some sort, that between the page I was suspended on and the next one maybe Bill Me Later got lost in some sort of behind-the-scenes account restoration? I don't know, and like I said, I can't find out, because for the next four days I have to be either asleep or at work during most of the hours one could normally call any of these entities.

I actually lost almost all the money I made today on Christmas gifts that should have only cost me a fraction of what they did.