Friday, December 13, 2013

It all began with a glass of wine…

I’m afraid to fly. Doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means I’m afraid. So to help me to be more comfortable, I take a little something my doctor prescribes and chase it with a glass of wine.

When I flew back to Pittsburgh from Minneapolis last month, I had a glass of wine on the plane. The United Airlines flight attendant swiped my debit card and the $7.99 charge showed up in my checking account two days later. That should have been that.

Three weeks later, another United Airlines charge of $7.99 showed up in my checking account. Now let me just say that the wine was hardly worth the $7.99 in the first place, let alone nearly $16! I used my bank’s online customer service link to file a “complaint” about the charge. The bank’s response was to give me back the $7.99, cancel my debit card so it wouldn’t happen again, and issue me a new one.

Because of that glass of wine, I had to log on to Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and other places that had my old debit card information and change my information to my credit card. A minor pain in the butt, nothing more.

When my new card arrived on Monday, I called the 800 number and activated my account. I went to the gas station and put $30 of gas in my car. On Tuesday, I logged into my bank account and saw that the $30 charge went to the checking account I use only to pay bills. Whoever issued my new card associated it with the wrong checking account. Because of that glass of wine, I had to call my bank and talk to an associate  who assured me she could take care of it. A few clicks of her keyboard and all was back to normal. Another minor pain in the butt, nothing more.

On Wednesday, I went to Walmart to pick up a prescription and buy a few groceries and a Christmas card, which was an adventure all its own. People were sneezing on the cards, everyone smelled of Vicks. I needed a radiation bath when I got home. Anyway, I used my new card to debit $141 from what should have been my regular checking account. Yesterday, I logged into my bank account and saw that the $141 charge was debited from my bill-pay-only checking account AGAIN, this time causing an overdraft and two overdraft fees of $29 each.

This was becoming a major pain in the butt.

Because of that glass of wine, I went to an actual branch and talked to someone in person. Cathy was very friendly and very helpful and just as confused about the whole fiasco as I was. She said the associate I’d talked to on Tuesday not only associated my card with the correct account, but she left my bill-pay-only checking account on it, too, therefore causing the Walmart charges to post to that account. She canceled my new debit card and issued me a new one (which will arrive in 3-5 business days), and she assured me that the two overdraft fees would be taken off.

Because I had no debit card for my regular account and my bill-pay-only account was overdrawn (nothing in the banking world is taken care of immediately), I had no access to money except to go to a teller and withdraw money the old-fashioned way.

This morning, I logged into my bank account. The two overdrafts were indeed removed, AND the Walmart charges were now posted in my regular account AS WELL AS my bill-pay-only account! I burst into tears. Not only did I have limited access to my money, I had way less money to access!

Because of that glass of wine, at 9 a.m. I called Cathy and told her what happened. She looked at my account and said in a rather snotty tone, “You’ll need to talk to Walmart about this. There’s nothing I can do.” What the…WHAT? Was she kidding me? The only thing I did was buy a lousy glass of wine 30,000 feet in the air more than a month ago and she was going to make me go to Walmart and have THEM fix my banks’ mistakes?

“I won’t do that,” I told her. So she said she would try to put in a request to have the Walmart charges removed from my bill-pay-only account, but that it would take two business days for her request to be considered.

Because of that glass of wine, I’m going into the weekend $141 poorer and will have no access to my money. I will use this time to decide if I should A) withdraw my money from my bank and find a new bank; or B) withdraw my money and put it in a shoe box.

I’ll think about it over a glass of wine.

10 comments:

  1. I vote shoe box. And a bottle of wine. ;)

    I feel for you - all of this electronic stuff means that money instantly leaves your account, but god forbid if a mistake was made...you're not getting that money back in a timely manner, nosiree.

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  2. Stories like this - and I've heard others - are why I barely ever use my debit card. I mostly just use it for ATM access. I do, however, use a credit card for almost everything, pay the balance monthly, and get rewards. You've got so much more protection with a credit card, and debit cards are like a "sitting duck" fraud target sometimes.

    Anyway, so sorry to hear about all of this and hope it's all resolved ASAP!

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  3. Check you bill pay account payments too. I recently got them messed up because they cancelled the automatic payments when a new account number was issued and the bills were physically sent to an old address that had never been updated on the account

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  4. I've had to change cards and suffer the associated aggravation more times than I want to remember. Cathy's snotty tone is unacceptable. I think you should withdraw your money and start over with a new bank on Monday. I've belonged to a credit union for years and have found them to be wonderful, don't charge for checks and other add-ins, etc. I don't know if that is an option for you but I'd highly recommend a credit union.

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  5. Get thee to a credit union. I switched years ago and never looked back - not only cheaper, they actually value their customers.

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  6. LOL at the shoebox option. That's about the only thing funny about this whole situation.

    I have to disagree with the commenter who doesn't trust debit cards. I went credit-card free probably 20 years ago--use my debit card for everything. I've never regretted it.

    I am a huge fan of credit unions. And again, that's been almost my only experience for the past 25 years. But I really like my credit union.

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  7. You know how I feel about banks right now.

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  8. I like that you keep bringing it back to the glass of wine. It reminds me how I can trace so many things back to the decision to eat a cookie. . .

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  9. What a hassle, especially considering it was all because of a glass of wine. I sure hope everything gets figured out before you really have to go to the hassle of switching banks!

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  10. Oh, Lynn, I'm so sorry you've had to go through all of this!

    I use credit cards for everything, both for the points and because I've heard horror stories like yours where companies held people's funds hostage, so to speak.

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