Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What does zero liability mean to you?

All right I guess since everyone is doing it now.
So...Thursday night I went downstate for a meeting on the east side of Detroit.  After the meeting I stopped and got gas, while I was pumping the gas I decided to use the restroom before I got on the road so that I wouldn't have to stop again on the way.  Back in the car I pulled away with a feeling that I had forgot something, then I remembered that I didn't get a receipt, I knew it was around $14.75, so I just decided to put it into my spreadsheet as $15.00 and I could get the right amount when I checked on line.  Drove happily home with no obstacles.  Friday I went to get cigarettes, as I went for my Check Card it was not there, my old one was there but not the new one they had just sent me and I had used the night before.  I figured I had just put it in the wrong place and that it was stuck in my calendar.  So I used the old one and went home and looked, and looked, and looked.  It was not there.  So I called my bank which of course was closed at 9:00 on a Friday night, but I thought maybe they would have a recording giving me more information.  No such luck, the local number for the branch just rang and rang.  I had received my statement that day, so I pulled it out and looked for a customer service number, nothing not a single number on the entire statement.  Included with the statement was an pamphlet on the Visa Check Card that they had sent to me, explaining my new daily limits.  The bottom paragraph said, as always your Visa Check Card comes with Visa's Zero Liability Policy, that made me feel somewhat better, however there was not a phone number on the pamphlet either. 
So I went on line to see if there had been any charges on my account.  They did not have any unknown charges, however they did not have the gas that I knew I had purchased the night before either.  Searching the web for a customer service number resulting in nothing, there was a place to send an email, so I began to do that.  When the email page opened on the bottom said if you have problems with this program please call 800-XXX-XXXX.  I thought lets try it.  Sure enough I heard "Welcome to Independant Banks's automated teller service....." I was then directed to their wonderful new website where I could do all of my banking needs.  I could push one for automated banking, two for loan services, or at any time zero to speack to a customer representative.
Let's try Zero, were sorry our office are now closed if you would like to speak to someone please call back Monday-Friday 7am to 5pm.  Call's done.  So I go back to email.  I send an email, asking how to cancel a Check card, since they have no customer service.  Refreshing the screen every five minutes waiting for a reply, and to see if the charge I was expecting to showed up, drove me crazy.  I left the room and came back every half hour, nothing.
Saturday morning when I got up I checked, my account balance was now -184.00, the charge I was expecting for the gas on Thursday was there, along with about 6 other charges ranging between 20 and 50 d0llars each.  The cigarettes that I had purchased using my old card was not on there, so I knew they hadn't gotten to Friday's purchases yet.  I didn't have any detail as to what or where the purchases were only the amount and that they were pending.  No response to my email, I knew I couldn't sit around and worry about it all day, so I worried every minute, but not the whole minute.  No change until Sunday when my account was -517.22.  I couldn't believe it, why would they let the account be overdrawn by that much?!
Monday promptly at 6:50 I call the number, "We're sorry our office are now closed...", 6:55 ditto, 7:00 ditto, 7:02 dittor, 7:05 ditto, 7:06 ditto, 7:07 "Good morning this is Lisa how can I help you?"  I explained that I had lost my check card and would like to report it being used fraudulently and have the card cancelled.  Her reply, "If I hot card it you will have to pay 12 dollars to get a new one."  I explained that my account was currently $517 in arrears and that I wasn't going to worry about the $12.  After going back and forth she agreed to 'hot card' my card, I said, "So now it can't be used".  She said, "Well, it shouldn't be able to be used."  How comforting.  I asked her what I needed to do to dispute the charges that were on my card, and she said that I would have to talk to my branch about that and they don't open until 9:00.  I asked her why they didn't have a number that I could have used over the weekend, and she said, "You have to call the 800 number"  when I explained that I had but that there was not an option to report a lost or stolen check card she gave me the tree that one needs to use.  "Take option 1 for automated teller service, and then option 4 for financial services, and then option 2 for additional services, and then option 6 for reporting lost or stolen check cards"  If it was a snake it could have wrapped me up and squeezed the life out of me.  She then advised me to close my current account and open a new account, so that everything could be straightened out.
Promptly at nine o'clock I was at my branch, waiting for the doors to be unlocked.  I explained my situation, and the teller printed out a statement for me.  The statement ended with the last approved purchase, gas last weekend.  I said, on line there are about 20 additional purchases that are pending.  "Oh, you want to look at those" - yes, she brings out about four sheets of print screens, each purchase has about 5 lines.  "Which of these are yours?"  I look at the sheets, my cigarette purchase on Friday is there but the gas from Thursday is not.  "Well, this is all there is" "why is there more on line when I look at my account?"  "let me check".  She returns with 2 more pages of print screens.  After going through this one is mine and this one is mine - why aren't the purchases in between yours?  I used my old card.  Why do you have two cards?  Because you sent them to me.    We tally it up and there are 17 unauthorized purchases for approximately $770.00.  A form needs to be filled out for each purchase, I go over to an unused desk and fill out the forms. 
Once my hand has totally cramped up I bring her the forms, and she says "Okay I'll take it from here" scarier words have never been spoken.  (Okay, they have).  I ask what my next step is? will the charges be creditted back?  what do I do on Wednesday when I get my check?  If I deposit it will it be applied to the unauthorized charges or will I be able to pay my bills?  "Ma'am your account is in arrears, any money deposited will be applied to the arrearage and that paid off before you will have any available funds"  How about opening a new account, "Ma'am we cannot open a new account for you while you have an account in arrears!"  Thank God you're not the only bank in town!  Then I was told that they may opt to give me a provisional credit to cover the arrearage (and overdraft charges that will be posting for each purchase over my available balance -now I know why they let it go over so much), if they don't I will need to cover the amount or an additional daily charge will be assessed for each day my account was in arrears.  I asked when I would know if they had given me the credit, and she said "you'll just have to keep calling and asking"  - oooh my favorite thing - I asked her if the credit would appear on my account on the website, "Well, I guess you could check there if you didn't want to call" -choices, choices.  Not wanting to actually slap her, I went home.  Soon my phone rang and it was her, she told me that they would have a decision on my provisional credit by Friday, and that I needed to file a police report for a stolen credit card.  I asked her if the police report should be in West Branch, Warren -where I lost it, or Downriver -where it was used.  She told me to go to the State Police in West Branch since they cover the whole state.  So I went to the State Police and they said "HUH?"
They told me to go to the Detroit branch (I was on my way down anyway), and that if I was given a hard time to come back to them and they would help me figure it out.  (Friendly, helpful, I was getting very confused).  So here I am.  I am going to take Megan to the airport in the morning and then visit the Taylor office of the Michigan State Police since that is where the Detroit branch is.  I will use a different bank account to deposit my check and pay bills out of since I don't have the luxury of waiting until Friday for them to tell me I'm screwed anyway.
I'll keep you posted - probably.


ez said...

You guys are all so hip. So happenin'. We're all blogging.

I'm such a geek.

KathrynVH said...

Oh my God. You are related to Melody. I once told a bank clerk that he was very lucky that I did not have a gun. I was totally serious. Lucky for me it was before 9/11, but it was after Colinbine (how do you spell that?) Good Luck.

Melody said...

i am just a little forgetfull sometimes. i would loose my head if it wasn't attached. see i get those genes from my mother. you can blame it all on her lol!

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