Sunday, September 28, 2014

Banking In the Digital Age

For 25 years I had two bank accounts for our karate club, but I never had a bank card. When bank cards first came out, one of the tellers told me not to get one as it would just be too much trouble. I thought she meant for me, not her. But eventually the bank, in it's wisdom, decided to charge $2 to anyone they had to send a statement to.  I decided it was time to get a bank card, so I could just check out the statements online.

When I first requested the bank card, I was met with a quick, "I don't know if we can do that!"  I just shook my head and said, "I'll leave it with you for a couple of hours as I have somewhere to go."  When I came back in, they were quite pleased with themselves. "We did it!" they declared, and handed me a card.  I still wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.

When I got home, I used the new card to access my accounts online.  But I only found one, not two. I returned to the bank the next day, and the very second I stepped through the door, I heard, "Oh, oh."

Yes, it's true, they could not put both accounts on that one card.  Don't ask me why. Both accounts were opened for the same business at the same branch of this bank, but for some unexplained reason, they couldn't marry those two accounts.

I had a meeting with the accounts manager to do some other business, and explained the problem to him. Once again, I was told to leave it with him, and he'd get it fixed.  But he couldn't, and the powers higher up apparently couldn't either. And nobody ever told me why this was so.  Eventually, more than a year after all this began, it was decided that the only way to fix this problem was to close the savings account, and open another one.  That sounded like it would solve the problem.  Instead, it created a new one.

When the first statement for this new account arrived, instead of the $2 statement charge I had been trying to avoid, there was a fee of well over $16.  I trotted into the bank and slapped a copy of the statement onto the desk of the highest ranking official I could find. She said, that apparently someone had not explained this account to me properly, and refunded the service charge. I stated that the person who set up this account knew the whole reason for it was for me to avoid that little $2 fee, so giving me an account that was naturally going to generate even bigger fees every time I used it, was certainly not my idea of how to solve the problem.

I ended up with another $11 charge for the following month too, for transactions that had already gone through by the time I was refunded the previous month's fees. I have not touched that account since, but if I do, I'll just make one online transfer, once in a while, and never deposit cheques, or (god forbid) cash in the darn thing ever again. Do you know that they actually charge you to deposit cash in a business account?  After 25 years of never being charged such fees with my previous account, this was a shock to me!

For the past couple of months I have been having difficulty signing into my online business account. Last month I had to reset the password.  This week it wouldn't let me do that, as the security questions now ask for a credit card number.  I don't have a credit card for the business. I have been pre-approved for one, but I don't feel the need to have it, so I've never applied for it.  The online system wouldn't let me reset the password without it though.  I thought I'd try the current password one more time. Then the system told me it was having trouble identifying me.  It didn't even recognize the card number anymore.

So, once again, I had to physically go to the bank, where they gave me the phone number for the online banking office, so I could fix such problems. I must have stared at the teller in a certain way, as she picked up the phone and made the call herself.  We worked through it together.  At one point she wanted me to insert the current password.  I told her I was there because that didn't work.  But she insisted, so I tried it.  No luck. Of course. So she got me a temporary password, after which I had to change that to a new one. I picked something that I knew I could remember until I got home.

Once at home, I tried to get in, and once again the system wouldn't recognize the password I had just set up. I dug out the phone number that the teller had given me, and called the online banking office.  I had to go through all the steps with the temporary password then change it to the new one all over again. The trip to the bank had been a total waste of time.

I finally got to see my statement.  But I can't help but wonder what will happen next month!

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