Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My accounts and time, apparently not at a premium

With a full-time job and two kids under 5, I have a lot of free time on my hands. One of my favorite things to do with all that free time is to call my bank to find out why they have been charging a $25 monthly “premium” fee on my account for the past several months. Picture me sitting by a pool, drink in hand, my well-behaved children playing quietly nearby, and me on the phone having a lighthearted conversation with a bank representative about why they have been stealing my hard-earned money, and you have a good idea of how this conversation played out.

I would have noticed this unwelcome charge the very first month it was assessed but, again, kids. It’s as if the bank knew the exact time to strike—while I was getting my “hair done” by two adolescent hairdressers while simultaneously trying to text my wife, who was upstairs, to please bring down my phone charger.

One thing I’ve always done when calling customer service is to make sure I get the name of the rep to whom I am speaking. That way, when I inevitably have to call back because the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved, I can say, “Yes I was speaking to Heather …” and someone can tell me, “I’m sorry sir, but this is the Delaware branch … is there something I can help you with?”

Nevertheless, I was intent on getting a name. Here is how that went (after I machete'd my way through various prompts by yelling "OPERATOR" into the phone):

Person: Yes, this is Bank of America Hypothetical Bank, my name is (unintelligible), how can I help you today, Mr. Kenny?

Me: I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again?

Person: Blcvxczv.

Me: I’m sorry, I just … what?

Person: Oh no problem, sir, my name is Bleeeehhhh.

Me: Bleeehhh? Your name is Bleeehh?

Person: My name is Blen.

Me: Your name is Blen?

Blen: Exactly, sir.

AND WE’RE OFF.

Long story short—although it only took 45 minutes to figure out over the phone—when the accounts transferred to our trust, the technical change in ownership affected the status, and our no-charge premium accounts began getting charged.

And hey, listen—I get it. With premium status comes premium responsibility. Being able to order a free set of checks every two years and not having to maintain a minimum balance is an absolute drain on this multi-zillion dollar company’s resources, and $25 per month seems like an adequate compromise. THIS $300 I PAY ANNUALLY WILL REALLY PAY OFF WHEN I ORDER THOSE FREE $15 CHECKS NEXT YEAR! That quote right there was what a regular premium person would say, but we—my wife and I—are premium premium customers. Yeah, not to brag but we have like 10 accounts plus our mortgage with this bank. Pretty sure they talk about us at board meetings and stuff.

Anyway, Jared—Blen had to transfer me to Jared, obviously—refunded the money back into our account. Unfortunately, I had to temporarily forfeit our premium status because I will have to work those details out at our local branch.

“No problem, Jared!” I said. “I have plenty of time for that …” as I hung up the phone, leaned back in my lounge chair, and looked out across the pool.

Note: This column appears in the 9/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/6 issue of the Peoria Times.

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