Yesterday I received the upsetting news that a check I’d received from a small publisher bounced. Knowing the snowball effect a rubber check can produce, I immediately transferred funds and called the publisher.
“We’re so sorry,” they said. “That shouldn’t have happened.”
They were so apologetic that I couldn’t maintain an indignant anger so I forgave them. But, as I told them in a calm voice which I struggled to achieve, apologies were wonderful, but they didn’t help the immediate situation. I wanted the situation remedied. After all, I’d waited over seven months for the article to be published, then another two months for my payment.
Their solution was to wire the funds directly into my account, which I thought was a wonderful solution.
That started a series of frustrating events that led me to write to my local bank’s headquarters. Visiting their website, I was pleased to discover an email form, so this is what I wrote:
“Hello. I opened a business account a few months ago at your bank while deciding whether or not to transfer all of funds to this bank. Since then the business account been sitting, waiting.
Yesterday at my regular bank, I received notice that a check from a publisher bounced so after several frantic calls, I asked the publisher to wire the funds directly into my new account at your bank.
I called the number listed in my local directory for your bank, which is two blocks from my home, and waited while I went through all the automated messages. It took an even longer wait for a human voice to answer a question about wiring a direct deposit into an account. The man spoke with a heavy accent so I asked his location. The Philippines, he politely answered, and before he gave me instructions for wires, I was required to give my account number and social security number, for my protection, he assured me.
As a good, martyred citizen, I'm now resigned to questions about American products and services answered by people out of my country, and while I don't like it, I'm becoming accustomed, because, if I want the product, I have to 'go along.'
I learned the procedure for direct wire deposits and was given the routing nunbers, so I called the publisher with that information and they wired the money. After they gave me the confirmation number, I called the bank again to check the balance, again going through all the information, including account number and social security number.
Then I discovered the account was ten dollars short. Back to calling the bank, back to the automated messages in the Philippines. Frustrated now, I gave all my personal information again and told the man I did not want to speak to him, that I wanted my local bank. Surely, as a place of business they would have their very own telephone with a number that rang in the bank. He was very polite and transferred my call. The only problem was he connected me to an out of service number. Trying to hold my temper in check, I called back, sat while the automated messages went through their thing, punched in what I thought was the correct numbers and held on until a human came on the line. Almost seething, I gave my personal banking and social security information. I told her what had happened and she connected me, she said, to my local bank. By the time a woman in my local bank came onto the line, I was fried.
I told her about the problem I’d had, then complained about the ten dollars. She informed me very politely that xxx bank had a service charge for wire deposits and I let her know that I didn’t appreciate not being told earlier. And, I told her again of my frustration when trying to call them. By then, I’d been on the phone with xxx bank approx thirty-six minutes. She apologized and told me next time, instead of listening to all the automated messages, to punch in a code and I’d be taken directly to them. She also deleted the ten-dollar charge, which was very nice of her.
However, after hanging up, I was still steaming about the episode and was very uncomfortable about the services offered. It’s nagged at me ever since.
Do I want to transfer my funds to a bank where it takes me thirty-six minutes to contact? Do I want to give all of my information to someone in the Philippines? I know we’re in the electronic age where everyone’s information is at one’s fingertips, but do I knowingly want to give my personal and banking information to a call center out of the country?
I don’t think so.
So this is to let you know that I’m one customer who has decided to go with a different local bank, who, when I call them, I speak to someone in that bank and not in the Philippines. I will not be transferring funds from a recently matured CD, or from my regular savings, nor will I continue a business account there.
Why do we support such nonsense? Why are we supporting corporations who take their customer services out of the country whose citizens, by their continued support over the years, helped them to grow into large corporations? So they, by going out of the country to cut wages, can grow wealthier by hiring cheaper help? Yet they continue to market their products to the States and we continue to buy them, while more and more American families are going broke and more homes are headed to foreclosure.
Do I support that? I must, because I continue to use their services and/or buy their products. I’m as guilty as the next of standing by and letting the government, large corporations, and lobbyist groups take my society away.
How many times do I repeat myself on the telephone, hoping to be understood by someone in another country who represents a product bought in America, manufactured, supposedly in America, although it gives me a headache to try and figure out what exactly is American-made.
And yes, we have a number of educated people in our country who strive for the technical jobs, but, we also have many people who simply want to work—clerks, customer service reps, etc. Their jobs have been given to people in India, the Philippines and who knows where. When I question, I’m told it’s because Americans do not wish to work at such mundane jobs. Yet I know several people, including seniors, housewives, displaced homemakers, who would love to have a job answering telephones or greeting customers.
For some inexplicable reason, the government and large corporations do not ask my opinion about such matters, probably because I’m simply one woman who admittedly is not politically-minded. So I voice my opinion at the polls. However, no matter how I vote, the situation doesn’t change.
I may not change the world by my small action of withdrawing funds from that bank, but at least I can take one little stand in my own household. It’s a start.
After sending this to the bank’s office via email, I was taken to a page that said, ERROR! Please call—and they listed a number.
It was the automated number in the Philippines.