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Monday, October 29, 2007

Aggression breeds aggression

On August 3, I went to my bank to deposit checks from my private practice. The deposit that day included a check from Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the amount of $127.50. I was going to trade in my car the next day, so my car was completely cleaned out and I had the deposit on the seat beside me on the way to the bank. If the check had fallen out of the deposit, it would be obvious in my very clean car. I was absolutely clear that every check listed in the deposit was actually in the deposit envelope.

On August 6, I received notice from the bank that the deposit was $127.50 short so they subtracted $127.50 from my account. I called the bank and explained that I was sure the check for $127.50 was in the deposit. They said they could not check on it for me and I would have to provide a copy of the canceled check from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

I asked what I suppose were amusing questions of the person to whom I was speaking.
  • Did the bank not come up out of balance by $127.50 when they closed the books on August 3?
  • Is it possible they dropped the check on the floor of the bank?
  • All Blue Cross checks are the same size and shape and was it possible that the check stuck to the back of another?

I also have a bank account at USAA which has its only stand alone bank in Austin, Texas. With customers all over the country, for the last year, USAA has encouraged deposit by home computer. In this method, I scan the deposit into my computer and send the image to USAA. After receiving the front and back of the check via scan, USAA instructs me to shred the check. In other words, they keep a scan of the check but are not interested in the actual check.

Because of my experience with USAA, I imagine that Wachovia keeps images or checks rather than the actual checks. So I asked my bank in Atlanta if they would have shredded the check and thus wouldn't have a record of it in my deposit. While they didn't directly answer that question (which said to me that they did shred the checks) they said, "Can you imagine how much time it would take us if WE had to find the missing check? We have to ask you to find it."

So far this conversation left me wondering how/if the bank actually balances its books each night???

So I got off of the call with Wachovia and called Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They told me they could not send me a copy of the check for two weeks until they could know for sure that the check had cleared. I waited the two weeks and called on August 23. Blue Cross (after keeping me on hold for a while) said the check had cleared and they would fax me a copy of the front and back of the check as soon as they could.

On August 27, I received the fax of the check from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. To their credit the cover letter on the fax said, "Sorry it took so long to get this to you."

I called Wachovia who would not allow me to fax them the check photo, but insisted that I send it by letter to them.

I wrote the following letter to Wachovia, dated September 6, one month after the original deposit:

Re: Dispute # CGxxxxxxx

Dear Mr. S.....:

Enclosed please find:

1. Your ATM debit adjustment of 8/6/2007 subtracting the $127.50 amount of a Blue Cross check to me included in my deposit of 8/3/2007

2. The fax from Blue Cross of the copy of the check number 4xxxxxxx which was cashed by Wachovia, processed through Bank of America on 8/8 and NOT credited into my account

3. A copy of your letter advising me that I will have to find the check to prove your mistake.

I would appreciate it if you would immediately credit my account with the $127.50 that someone at Wachovia failed to credit to my account and possibly credited to someone else's account.

I have not had use of that money for more than 30 days and I think you should also pay me interest for the 33 days when I have not had that money available to me.


Linda Tillman

Several days passed and the money was still not back in my account. I called and was told that the letter hadn't been processed yet. Finally on September 19, three weeks after I wrote my letter, the money was still not in my account.

I called and spoke to someone in their (as Clark Howard says) "customer no-service department" who said she would "research" the problem. She came back on the line and said that she had found the letter and had no idea why the money had not been credited. She put me on hold again. Again, when she returned she said the money would be returned that day. I said I wanted two months of interest. I also asked to speak to whoever she was speaking to when she left me on hold. "That won't be possible," she said.

The minute I got off of the phone, the Internet page for my account at Wachovia showed that the $127.50 had been returned to my account. By that evening the $127.50 had been returned two times to the account. Three days later (do they ever balance their books?) I suppose they realized the double correction of their error. Instead of owning and respectfully dealing with the problem, they wrote me a letter explaining that they could not find my deposit in question and therefore were removing the provisional credit of $127.50!

I felt aggressively treated from the beginning. The last letter was the icing on the cake for treating me aggressively and badly.

Aggression makes a person feel like being aggressive back. I now make my deposits and staple all of the checks and deposit slip together with three or four staples. In addition, I always put a note (stapled with the rest) on top of the stack that says:

This deposit contains 16 checks.
Please credit all 16 checks to this deposit.

It's angry and aggressive, I know. Every phone call I made to Wachovia was respectfully handled by me. My letter is a very assertively written letter.

In spite of my handling the problem assertively, I was treated by Wachovia with no respect for my long history at that bank and in the end didn't get an apology, timely treatment or interest for the loss of use of my money, but rather was sent a letter implying that my deposit was inaccurate. So I am responding aggressively, as happens when there is no respect in the interaction.

1 comment:

susan conboy said...

Wow! That story sounds like a nightmare. I would have gone to talk to the manager and if I didn't get any satisfaction, I would have then closed my account.