Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chasing Their Tails

My mortgage is with a very large and old financial institution. Every month, I would make an electronic transfer from my checking account, (who is with another very large and old financial institution) to the first bank. Then in July, I thought I would set up automatic payments between the two banks.

Bad decision.

Bank A, has an issue, their customer service is run by complete idiots. For a start, the payment transfer took eight days. That is not acceptable, so I went online and canceled the transfer set up. I got an email stating this had been done.

August 1, I went back to my original method of going online to manually transfer the payment from bank B to bank A. No problem there, until a week later I noticed bank A, despite the cancellation of automatic payments... had done just made a transfer from bank B.

So... I called the customer support number of bank A. Major problem, there is no freaking option to talk to a live person. None, zilch, nada. So I sent an email requesting if the overpayment could be refunded, and this time to absolutely, positively, without a doubt, cancel the automatic payments.

Got an email back saying, "This matter will be investigated." A week later, got a phone call from a live person from Bank A. I was shocked, I didn't think they had any actual personnel. He told me to fax proof of the transfer, including the bank statement from Bank B with the transaction I wanted refunded. Did that, then waited.

Today got a letter from Bank A, asking for the same information I faxed well over a week ago. Sent yet another email saying forget the refund, since it is so close to September, make the overpayment the September payment. Here is what I think will happen, the idiots will sent me an email saying they will do that. In the meantime they will send me a refund check. They will then ask where is the September payment.

Monday I'm heading to the local branch of Bank A, and will not surprised to find only ATM machines instead of people working inside. And if I do track down a living person, I'm betting I'll just be given the same phone number that does not give you the option of talking to a real person.

Bank A also received a sizable bailout courtesy of Mr. Obama. I guess spending even a dime of it on actual customer service was never a consideration.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cutting ties

I finally stopped procrastinating and applied for my Texas drivers license. I would have done it earlier, except going to DMV anywhere ranks with having my fingernails torn out one by one on my rank of life's pleasures. There are two universal truths about DMV offices. First, they are always crowded. Even if you are there the minute they open, the moment you step inside, the floor tiles will morph into a throng of people.

Second, you will stand in line for a minimum of three hours. If a person in front of you dies of old age or starvation while waiting, the wait is still three hours. If there is only one person or one hundred in front of you, the wait is still three hours. It is inescapable.

Fortunately I had the required mound of documents proving my existence so at least I didn't have the ecstasy of the three hour wait ending followed by the agony of being told I had to return another day with the missing document.

One thing I noted was that the staff were actually polite and helpful. This was quite a contrast from the DMV's in California where surliness was a job requirement. When it was my turn, all I had to do was sign a couple of forms then have the picture taken. This of course turn out horribly, (another universal truth of DMV's everywhere, the picture looks like you've either had the worst fright of your life, the worst hangover of your life, or you've just been embalmed). I was a little disappointed I wasn't allowed to burn my old California license, since it was my last remaining tangible link to that state. We won't count my Cal hats, since that link is emotional rather than official.

So I'm closer to being an official Texan. I was curious what the driver's test would be like, though I didn't have to take one. I figured it would be something like this:

1. What activities are forbidden while driving in Texas?

A. Running over Smart Cars with large trucks
B. Yelling "yeeeha" when you pass another vehicle
C. Reloading your gun

Answer: C - The gun should already be loaded.

2. When driving on a rural road, you must yield right of way to which of the following?

A. Cattle
B. Horses
C. Bigger trucks than yours

Answer: All three

3. When coming to a four way stop, who has right of way?

A. Smart Cars
B. Pickups with off road tires so big they blot out the sun
C. Cadillacs with longhorns mounted on the front of the hood

Answer: C - B is tempting, but the Cadillac driver most likely is a rich rancher or oilman who can sue your behind for all it's worth.

As an aside, jaywalking in Texas is not advised as you can get impaled on the longhorns of those Cadillacs. As for Smart Cars, they are handy for getting around inside Walmart.