I've been having an ongoing problem with the Bank of America that has been is getting more frustrating by the day.
I'm trying to give them back money. But they won't take it.
In fact, they not only tell me that the problem can't possibly exist -- despite me giving them physical proof that it does -- but they keep making the problem worse.
I won't go into all the minute details which make for a better, funnier story, but they are so mind-numbing convoluted that it would drive Alice nuts as she was sucked into the rabbit hole of Wonderland.
But here is the "short" overview. It's loony enough.
Okay, so, last month I made an online transfer from my account to another account in the BOA system. There are two ways to view that account online -- one is listed on the BOA website under the pull-down tab "Transfer" (which shows all of one's online money transfers) and the other is shown under the pull-down table "Accounts." That's...well, the basic account with all your activity.
The other week, I noticed that the summary total showing under the Account tab didn't match the amount in my personal Quicken file. I double-checked my Quicken listings, and all was accurate. I then checked the Transfer listing -- and it was correct, and perfectly matched what was in Quicken (as it should have). And I found where the problem existed --
On October 4, I had made a transfer for $501.50. And it was properly listed under the Transfer tab correctly. No problem. All's well. But under the Account tab listing, it was showing up on October 5 for just $50.15. Obviously, a "zero" got left off, and the decimal moved over on space. Okay, I get it, a computer screw up. In my favor, happily, of 451.35. But it was making my reconciliation messed up -- and besides I like to be honest.
So, I went to my BOA branch. Short version -- the account executive was worse than helpful. He just didn't care. The branch couldn't do anything about. "Call Customer Service." Fine, okay, what's the phone number. Somehow he didn't know it (I doubt I'm the first person to ask about Customer Service, most especially since the branch wasn't set up to deal with account issue and always had to be referred to Customer Service...), nor could he be bothered to look it up for me. "It's on the back of your statement." Great, thanks, bye.
And so I then called Customer Service. It took a while to get Kyle on the phone to understand correctly -- I have a feeling they're not set up for people who want to give them money back -- but eventually he seemed to get it, and sent in a Service Request. He was very personable, as well. Good, nice job, done.
A week later, last Friday, I got a letter from Bank of America telling me that the issue had been looked into and resolved. Wonderful. So, I went online to double-check.
It turns out that they made it worse. The incorrect $50.15 transfer (rather than $501.50) was still showing up in the Account listing -- and now both account listings (Transfer and Account) had the wrong total. Before, "Transfer" had been correct. Now, both showed that BOA had undercharged me by $451.35.
Yes, again, to be clear, "undercharged."
And so, yesterday I called BOA Customer Service again, this time speaking to Brittany. She, too, had problems grasping what was wrong, even after reading the detailed write-up that Kyle had entered a week or so earlier -- "So, you've been overcharged by $50.51, correct?" Noooo, I've been undercharged by $451.35. I owe you money. I want to give money back to the Bank of America. Eventually she got around to grasping what was wrong, but how to address it, ah, that was another matter. She kept putting me on hold, as the clock kept ticking by.
My favorite moment came when she got back to explain that her manager said there couldn't be a problem, since if the full amount of the money wasn't deducted it couldn't have been transferred. I laughed, saying that while I understood the point, the manager was wrong. I read to her a confirmation number from the person I transferred the money to -- for the correct amount. And I had a copy of the actual receipt. And the recipient said he had the money in his account. And yet, both the Account and Transfer total showing up at BOA was off by 451.35 -- again, in their favor. I told Brittany that although I knew what the manager said was true in theory, it was like standing out in the middle of a torrential rainstorm and being told that theoretically it wasn't possible to rain. But it was raining. The numbers were off.
At this point, we were 40 minutes into our chat, but she said she would talk to the manager again, please hold. Again. And I did -- and that's when things ratcheted to yet another level. A few minutes later, I heard the infamous, "Click." And we all know what the "Click" means. In this case, I wasn't exactly disconnected to a dial tone, but somehow I got switched back into an endless loop of the holding pattern. Every 12 seconds, I'd get a recorded message that hilariously said, "At Bank of America, we care about hearing from you. Please hold, someone will be with you shortly." And again 12 seconds later. And again and again. I knew someone wouldn't be with me shortly, or at any time -- it just felt like a glitch, with that non-stop, 12-second message -- but I still decided to wait. Because hope springs eternal. And I'd already invested 40 minutes into it, so what the heck. After another 15 minutes, though, I gave up.
And called back again.
This was my fourth attempt to give Bank America back their money, $451.35 of it. And I got Wilma on the line this time. She read through that description of the problem, got it completely wrong, and so I explained again. And she still got it wrong yet again, "So, you've been overcharged $50.15, is that right?" No, it isn't. It isn't close to right. Once more, I explained the problem, and that it was my fourth time trying to resolve it, and that I had been cut off the last time after 40 minutes, and the problem keeps getting worse. And I'm - just - trying - to - give - your - bank - back - money.
Wilma finally grasped all the information -- hopefully correctly, but who knows? -- and said she would put in a service request. Fine, I said, but before saying goodbye I added that I'd like to give her the confirmation number for the transfer, so that it would be in the official record, okay.
"That's not necessary, Mr. Elisberg. We have all the information here, and if there's any problem or question, someone will call you." I explained I still wanted to give the number to her, but she kept putting me off, saying that they didn't need it.
After all this effort the past couple weeks, this was the first time I got blunt. I'd been very low-key and polite during the whole process, dating back to my first visit to the BOA branch. In part because I'm not a screamer, but also in large part here because the error was in my favor and I was trying to give them back their money, so I found it all so amusing. But at this point, I couldn't help but be blunt. Still polite, but pointed. "No," I said. "I want to give you the confirmation number. If no one uses it, that's fine. But I want the record to have it. Because the last time it came up, the manager said it wasn't possible for the transfer to have gone through, and I have the confirmation number right here to prove that it did happen. I can make a copy and send it to you. And I want to give the confirmation number to you. Is there some reason you don't want to have it?? I want to give you the number"
After my Shakespearean soliloquy, she agreed to take it. For all I know, she did fake-typing in the air and pretended to mark it down, but I like to think that Wilma did indeed take the number and got it right.
She said that someone would get back to me with a resolution in three days. I replied that I wasn't holding my breath on that, but I hoped for the best and thanked her. And hung up, after an hour and 10 minutes.
And it's funny, but for all the computer errors, all the continued misunderstandings, all the problems getting worse, the phone disconnect and more, the only thing that I've ever really found especially annoying in all this (because those all are just glitches, wearying as they are) is the first in-person bank officer who couldn't be bothered and wouldn't give me the Customer Service phone number.
And that's the short version of my attempt to give BOA back money that I owe them.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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