Hold on to your hats, my friends, this story has many ups and downs and twists and turns. It’s taken so much energy, that I haven’t been able to write about it because the frustration was so high, I would begin to tremble. But today, it’s reached its pinnacle and I’ve gotten enough distance from it that I can laugh at the absurdity of it all. So here goes: After the medical event in December of 2017, I was, of course, unable to work. Since I was unconscious for several weeks and barely thinking for the next couple of months, I didn’t think about the fact that some bills were set to auto-pay from my account. With no money going in, there was a minor disaster.
B of A was very understanding in the beginning. They waved all of the overdraft fees. The account had already been forced closed, but I paid what was owed and opened a new account right there that very day.
That was in June. Drew had given me the money to fix the account and get a new one opened. He wanted me to buy some stuff for myself, so he gave me enough to do that. So I bought a few new things from Torrid, and what little was left I piddled away on game boosters. (Don’t judge me).
By the time my July maintenance fee came due, my balance left me overdrawn. Because I knew I was out of money, I wasn’t looking at my account balance and had completely forgotten about the maintenance fee, because my original account did not have one. Since July 17, the balance has been going a little bit more negative with every service fee. As of November 13, my balance was $-14.28, and there had been no activity because I had no money to act with!
A few weeks ago, I realized that I had money in my CalSTRS account that I didn’t know about. It wasn’t anything truly significant, but it was enough to get my car insured and inspected and re-registered. We also had reason to believe Opie could have heartworms, so I was eager to get my aging and neglected dogs into the vet and groomers.
I requested the disbursement and it arrived in two checks on 11/13 while Drew was at work. Since I can’t drive and our financial situation is tight enough that I won’t take Lyft without consulting with Drew first, I waited until he came home to take me to an ATM to make the deposit. As I expected, there was a hold put on all but $200 of the money. Subtract the $14.28, of which I was overdrawn, and I had an available balance of $185.72. I went home and blew about $17 on game boosters. (I said don’t judge me).
On Wednesday morning, 11/14, I had an appointment with the neurologist. After my appointment, Drew took me to a Bank of America branch to deposit the other check. Since it was written on the State of California treasury, I had hoped there would be no hold. Silly me! The teller gave me my receipt and showed me where it indicated what day and time my funds would be available. She gave me $200 in cash, and the rest would be available on Friday, 11/16 at 5:00 PM.
That night, I set up a Lyft for my early appointment for the next morning. Then I may or may not have bought another game booster or five. (Ok, not five, but as I’m writing this, I’m suddenly very ashamed).
On 11/15, I had an echocardiogram at 8:15 AM. Lyft picked me up and got me there on time. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the technician will see me on time. So I waited in the waiting room. While I was waiting, I got a message from Lyft that my payment had not gone through. Could I try another payment method?
I checked the credit card number that I’d used and it was correct. Then the tech came for me and I had to turn my attention to that. For the record, echocardiograms are not fun.
After the appointment, I found a comfy bench in the building entryway. I sat down and tried a few different ways to get my card to work, but it wouldn’t. I wondered if the problem could be Lyft’s, so I tried using my card to set up insurance for my van. That wasn’t working either.
I could not use Lyft to get anywhere until I got my card to work, so since I can’t stand it when people talk on their phones in waiting areas, I went outside. It was cold and it was raining. I sat down on the cold metal bench and called Bank of America to find out what was wrong with my card. I was on hold for 26 minutes, while a man sat a few feet from me, smoking outside a heart and lung center, and I listened to messages about how they valued my time and appreciated my patience. They suggested that I use the mobile app, which I had used, and that showed that I now had an available balance of over $1200. I continued to wait until the call was finally answered. The woman who took my call very quickly said, “Thank you for holding, unfortunately, our system is down, so you’ll have to call back in 60 minutes.”
My head nearly exploded. As calmly as I could (which wasn’t very) I told her that that was unacceptable. I had more than $6000 dollars in my account and now suddenly it’s not working and I’m literally stranded in the cold and the rain with no idea why. How am I supposed to get home?
“I understand your frustration, Ma’am, but there’s nothing I can do for you. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please call back in 60 minutes.”
I called Drew in tears. This was going to be MY day. I had planned to go get a pedicure because my feet look like something from a monster movie and then I was going to buy myself lunch and go home and play my game.
By the time Drew arrived, I was so angry, I was trembling. He had had to leave a meeting to come get me.
When I got home, I got on the phone and began the frustrating process all over again. I called and got a message that hold times were unusually long. As a courtesy, they would call me back within 10 minutes so that I didn’t have to wait on hold any longer.
To my surprise, they called back in about 5 minutes. They called me back so that I could hold for several more minutes. The first person I spoke to listened to my story. She looked up my account and told me that it was frozen. I explained that I knew it was frozen, what I didn’t know was why. She placed me on a “brief” hold, while she went to get a supervisor. After several minutes, she told me she was transferring me to a “colleague.”
I went through the same process several more times, each telling me they would get me a supervisor, and each transferring me to a colleague. Finally, I got Wayne.
Poor Wayne. By the time he got to me, I was angry and frustrated and ready to cry from my frustration. I basically vomited the whole story out. He listened without interrupting me, and I will say that that one act, helped a lot. It also helped that after he looked over the call notes, he had genuine disgust in his voice that so many people had just transferred me to someone else.
Wayne had to put me on hold for a while, too, while he tried to find a resolution for me. He checked in with me every moment or two to assure me that he was on it.
When he finally returned, he explained to me that my account was in the process of closing due to inactivity. It became frozen the day that I deposited the $6000. They did not have the ability to unfreeze it. He apologized that he could not take me through the next steps, but he gave me a direct phone number and the name of the person who could help me in the morning. I thanked him sincerely and told him that just hearing the genuine caring in his voice had helped a lot.
The next morning, I spoke to Vikki Hurst in accounts recovery. She apologized and told me that she would need me to hold for a “minute” while she investigated. She finally came back and told me that my account was in the process of being closed and that my best chance of getting my money as quickly as possible was to open a new account and transfer the funds. She said if I did that, my money should be available in 24 hours. This was a Friday, so I was skeptical, but I went to the bank and opened the second account.
When I got to the bank to open the new account, I was annoyed that as I was explaining the situation to the representative, the branch manager came in to ask her what she was helping me with and that she wanted her at the counter to bring help bring the line down. I was about to tell her that she could go work the counter herself and leave this lady to it, but it turned out that the manager didn’t know how to do what needed to be done, so she went back to her office and I never saw her again.
After the new account was opened, we tried to transfer the funds, but no one seemed to know how to do that. We called Vikki Hurst, and she told me, “Oh, no, I guess you misheard me. I said the funds might be available to transfer in 24 to 48 business hours. That would be Tuesday.”
I took a deep breath and clutched my hair and said, “No, you said 24 hours. Period. Nothing about business hours or 48 hours.” She apologized and I said she’d call me on Monday to reassure me that everything was on track.
On Monday, I waited all day for her call. At 4:30, I called her number. Someone other than Vikki answered and did their best to avoid transferring me to Vikki. When no one could help me, Vikki finally took my call. She apologized and made excuses and then told me that my account had not actually been closed. I now had two open B of A checking accounts with monthly fees. Of course, I still didn’t have access to my money, but I knew there was a hold on part of it until the 16th. On the 16th, I transferred it all to the new account.
On 11/14, In the midst of all of this, I composed an email to the CEO of Bank of America. I had no delusions that anyone would actually read it, but on 11/20, at 9:36 AM Eastern time, I got a call from Kimberly Holland, an executive escalations advocate. I didn’t recognize the number, and I never answer numbers I don’t recognize, so it went to voicemail. I listened to her message, and called back immediately. According to my phone, my call went out at 9:59, 23 minutes after she’d left her message. I got her voicemail. I left a message with my name and that I was returning her call. I told her I would be near the phone all day, and left my number again. I added her number to my contacts so that I would not miss the call again.
The next day, 11/21, I got a second call from Kimberly. I was out of the room at the moment, so it again went to voicemail. The call came in at 11:12 AM Eastern time. I returned her call at 11:24 AM, 12 minutes later. Voicemail. I have not heard from her since, and today is December 4.
I had a couple of expenses that needed immediate attention, but as soon as those were paid and cleared, I opened a new account at a smaller local bank. I waited until I got my new debit card to close the original account(s) after all, there were two, now. The new debit card arrived today.
And that’s when my mind nearly exploded again! Along with the envelope containing my new debit card for my new checking account at a new bank, there was another envelope from Bank of America. It was a letter from Kimberly Holland telling me that her multiple attempts to contact me have failed. She gave me her number and asked me to call her back no later than December 3, at 4:30 PM. Did I mention that today is December 4? Yes. You read that correctly. A letter postmarked 11/28 had an expiration date of 12/3.
So I closed both accounts today, and when the teller asked me why, I replied, “I’d tell you but there are customers waiting, and believe me, you don’t have the time.”
The moral of this story: STAY AWAY FROM B OF A.