Why customer service and your bank account are in the red.

It has been an interesting few weeks for me customer service wise. I had a tiff with Apple over how their update of ios8 caused my fiance’s phone to crash midway through the update, forcing us to restore the phone. Of course, once we go to upload the back up of it, because magically (even though I had never touched the encrypted back up button) it has become encrypted. Luckily, my fiance and I were able to try almost every password we have ever used an found one that worked for it and we got his phone running ios8, and restored all his old information (though we did have to reinstall a few apps that for some reason did not store in the back up). The result of all this was a round-about conversation on Apple support chat (mind you, apple wants to charge people $19 just to talk to a support team online or over the phone. No joke, $19 for customer service), about how Apple created a password encrypted function but provides no way to recover the password if forgotten. Though they were able to point me in several directions to help find the password (none of which worked, and all of which I had explored before starting the chat), it still left me going “I am seriously glad this shit happened when updating so I did not have to pay $19 for some idiot to tell me he couldn’t help.”

In all seriousness though, when did it become a thing for companies to charge you more money to help with a product that they sold you originally? $19 for help with any apple product or service unless I want to clamor down to the nearest Apple store, (which for some people may not be a close though for me there are probably 4 within 20 minutes of me) with my device only to be told they cannot help me. $19 for some under trained kid to not only provide me with no answers to my problems, but to then just transfer me to another person when I have clearly surpassed his knowledge after the first five minutes of the chat. Customer service is the backbone of any company. Every company has customers of some sort, and every company provides services of some sort, but to really succeed you have to provide good customer service so that your customers keep coming back. Why on earth would I want to keep purchasing products or services from a company that charges me just to help me with those products and services. As a young professional who is looking to upgrade their computer and tablet soon, never in my mind did I think to stray from my beloved Apple products. They are easy, efficient and work for what I need. But why would I stay with Apple when if I have a simple question of how to find someone on my computer, or how to use a product on the my computer, I have to pay $19 on top of the crazy prices I pay for the products themselves. I have spent thousands of dollars at Apple. My Macbook pro was a $1200 purchase alone and now as I look to upgrade it (it is 5 years old at this point and gratefully still works wonderfully but it is time for an upgrade) I am contemplating if it is worth the prices I pay to stay with Apple only to know that if I need help in the future I will be paying even more money.

I think the worst case of customer service I encountered was earlier tonight. My fiance went and looked at his bank account only to discover that it was negative almost $300. Flabbergasted at the amount the account had fallen into the red, I struck out to investigate what pulled the balance down. I have had a bank of america count since I was in high school. I have dealt with their online chat a few times, mostly when I mess up, lose track of my finances and I am crawling to them, begging them to not charge me an over draft fee. They are usually very polite and nice and offer a refund as I have been a very good customer over the years and typically don’t overdraft. Lately though, there seems to be a rise in the number of times I find my account and my fiance’s account ovedrafted. Tonight was the last straw though, after seeing how in the red his account had fallen I began to look through the transactions and discovered a shocking trend. On my account, no matter what I do, if my account does not have enough money in it, no transaction will go through whether it is online, an automatic payment or in store. It will not approve the transactions. Tonight we made the shocking discovery that on my fiance’s account, automatic payments and online transactions will go through even if his account has a negative balance. Apparently, there are settings you must change on your account manually if you do not want these transactions to be permitted.

This was a shocking discovery as I had never heard of this, nor had I thought he or I would need to go and change settings in our accounts so that we would not be hit with more and more over draft fees for things we did not cancel because our accounts were low on funds. In the past, my account has always just declined the transactions from things like Hulu or Netflix if my account did not have the funds to cover the amount, just like it would in store if my account did not have the necessary funds to pay for the items I wanted to purchase. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a national bank would have such an unethical business practice.

What was even worse than this discovery? The actions of the customer service chat representative we dealt with. We dealt with two people, the first one was quick to explain that we had to change settings and then transferred us on, and that is where the fun began. Not only was it a rude, disrespectful and overall repetitive chat, I was accused of using “inappropriate language” and told that would not be tolerated. Now, while I may swear a lot in my day-to-day life, I never once uttered an inappropriate word, used any racial slurs of any kind, demeaned or defamed the person I was speaking with. I merely pointed out a few times that several banks have been hit with other law suits due to similar practices and that bank of america itself has been ordered to pay upward of $114 million dollars because of these types of practices, and that they are still in trouble with the federal government and are facing penalties of over $10 billion dollars because of the way they have conducted business in regards to mortgages and the federal bailout they received.

We requested numerous times the name and employee ID of the person we were speaking with along with his managers name and contact information. First we were told his full name, but that he has no identification number

“you: sir , please provide me your an employee id and the contact information of your immediate supervisor
Dominic: You can use this chat conversation for your reference. My Full name Dominic Pattinson.”
Having also requested the information of his manager, we were met with declarations that he was the last point of contact and that there was no one else. When we went on to press him for information on if he was in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america, we got this:
“Dominic: I am the last point of contact. I would not have a supervisor.
you: i find that a blatant lie
Dominic: You can use this transcript for your reference.
you: no sir
you: i have the right to know the name and contact of your higher up.
you: so you are telling me you are in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america.
Dominic: No, I am not.
Dominic: However, you can contact our Manager Mr. Sri Kumar Bagri.”
So we request this managers contact information, and we are met with:
“you: but you have a manager, which means there are people above you, you are not the last person.
Dominic: I am afraid, my manager would not interact with customers directly, so I am the last point of contact via chat channel.”
But, didn’t you just tell me that I could contact your manager? I then ask how I contact him, he told me to call the call center and ask for a manager, but that I would be connected to an immediately manager and NOT the one he has told us we could contact.

After hours of round about, deplorable customer service where the representative did nothing but copy and paste the same thing he had said before, over and over and over and over again, having been refused direct information for his manager, I was then told that he had made a final decision and that even if I called and talked to someone else I would be declined the refund of these unethical overdraft fees. I was taken aback by this assertion that no matter who I talked to, no one would help me, even worse, before I could even craft a censored response (by this point I just want to yell profanities at him) he then attempted to rush me off the chat by saying he had made the decision and that unless I wanted help with another matter he had done all he could do. I kept him on by saying I was not done discussing this issue, and while I was stalling by asking what had prompted him to make such a large declaration, an easy internet search pulled up the LinkedIn profile of his manager.

I simply said to “Dominic” that I had found the contact information and suddenly, there is someone else there whom I can speak with. Shocking? I think not. Having found the manager easily, I simply pulled the law card and inquired as if I was speaking to someone who was in the United States or in India (By law, if requested, you must be transferred to someone inside of the United States), also not shocking, none of the three people we had been directed to were in the United States, Samantha, Dominic and Ian (doubtful those are real names at this point) were all in India. Though there is chat support in the United States they were unavailable at the time of my chat. Maybe if Samantha, Dominic and Ian had not kept me occupied for over 3 hours going around in circles I would have been able to chat with someone who was in the same country as I am.

Best part of being transferred to “Ian,” This little bit of lovely information:

“you: and why can I not just speak with him?
Ian: The chat cannot be transferred to our managers, as we are the last point of contact over the chat.
you: Does he not have a phone number?
Ian: I can assist you with the contact number, however our manager is currently not available”
WHOA! I just spent THREE HOURS, yes, you saw that correctly, THREE HOURS(!), trying to get this contact number for the manager, was told I could not have it, was told it was not available, was told I could not contact the manager directly (while being told I could contact him) and it takes asking the third person to be given the information I want. I think my brain just exploded to be honest.

In the end, I am settling for a call back from someone in the United States within the next 24-48 hours as I highly doubt “Dominic’s” decision is the final decision as he tried to declare. Should be a very fun wait.

My fiance and I are considering filing suit against bank of america though due to the unethical practices of bank of america. I am sure this would not just benefit us, but probably others who have experienced the same problems with bank of america. If you have experienced this, then don’t sit there and allow yet another corporation to get away with gauging American citizens of their hard-earned money. Though we are told our economy is recovering, even those of us with full-time, well-paying jobs are struggling with the rising cost of food, housing and gas. The more people who come forward with these problems, the more likely it is that those affected will not only make monetary gains, but could warn not only bank of america, but other financial institutions as well that these unethical overdraft fee practices will not be tolerated by the banking customers any longer. I know that I will no longer sit back and be forced out of money I work extremely hard for.



It’s been a while….

That is just not referring to my little hiatus from blog writing. It is referring to a lot of aspects of my life. My writings, my career, my friends. It has all slipped through the cracks over the last month or two. Today was the first day that I had the time and energy to dedicate a full work day (roughly 8-10hrs) to my still budding web design and social media marketing business. A friend of mine needed a new website built for his carpet cleaning and commercial office cleaning business, and though I have been slowly putting it together over the last two weeks, I have just not had time or energy to fully devote time to it. While working today I took a fifteen minute break to contemplate what happened over the last two months and why I let it happen. 

My writings. By writings I mean everything from the continued editing of my fiction novel, my blog and the ongoing process of attempting to get a book deal for the novel. What happened? I actually quite my nanny job so I had more time to focus (well, okay I quit because the parents were bat shit crazy) and I have found that since quitting I have done less work than I did when I had 12 hours of my life taken away from me each day by my nanny job and then probably another 3 or 4 by my web business. No progress has been made, no query letters have been sent, no editing has been done. Where did my grand goal of trying to get some kind of a book deal within the next year go? What happened to me?

My budding career is hit and miss lately. I have been on a roll having project after project, but nothing really too steady. Mostly it is websites, which I LOVE doing because it is fun, it is different every time and well, let’s be honest it makes me the most money. Nothing too steady though that I can depend on day after day, month to month though. The only person I have to blame for this is myself. I have slacked so bad on marketing my marketing abilities. Redundant huh? Part of that is my blog. As much as I am sure you all love reading all the thoughts that are in my head, the blog is part of marketing my abilities as a writer for freelance writing jobs. I tell every client that they should be posting minimum 1 post every 10 days or so and I can not even get myself to post that often.

My friends are a whole different can of worms. Unlike the other two things I have let slide, I am fully aware of the almost sole reason I have kind of pushed them all to the side. I canceled my wedding. Nobody freak out, I am still engaged and super happy with my fiancé and can’t wait to be a Mrs.! but, things (that will be detailed in a moment) happened and my family could no longer afford the insane cost of a wedding. My four best friends and I had gone dress shopping (yes, I had my princess moment and cried when I put on the dress), they had looked for brides maids dresses, I had found a venue, my friend who is a DJ had agreed to do my wedding for just travel expenses. It was all planned and then BOOM! reality check. Life just is not nice when it comes to this type of thing is it?

So, I guess it’s time for the explanation of my life crumbling out from under me for months. It started the first week of May. I lost my grandmother, the only grandparent I ever had. She fought for as long as she could, but with already life threatening health problems, her diagnosis of rare and aggressive lung cancer and 8 weeks to live was still hard to handle. I will never forget the phone call. It was a Sunday, my fiancé and I were having a lazy day and my dog Hades was acting odd. He was extra snuggly and would not leave my side, Hades is normally a very lackadaisical dog. He will occasionally get up and remind you to scratch behind his ears, but on this day, he was in my lap refusing to let me out of his sight all day. The call came early afternoon. My phone rang and I went into my bedroom, as my phone was on the charger, and saw it was my mother. My heart immediately skipped a beat as I answered. I heard it in her voice as I heard her say “Sara…” She really did not need to keep talking. I collapsed right there. I had rug burn where my knees hit the floor. The first thing I felt was Hades nudging me to make sure I knew he was right there for me. After a few moments, and saying goodbye to my mother, I pushed myself up to face my fiancé. His mother passed away a few years ago from the same thing and he knew the look on my face and immediately jumped up to hug me. This was the beginning of two weeks of on and off grief and the end of my wedding plans. As I let my life spiral momentarily out of control in the wake of my grief, my mother and my aunt dealt with the cold truth that is burying your loved one. The only thing that is even more insanely expensive for no reason than a wedding is a funeral and burial. Except that now we were being screwed by an insurance company in the process. Over $15,000 later, we are fighting an insurance company that only wants to give us $200 for it all. Losing my wedding would not usually cause me so much grief, but the last thing my grandmother said to me, the last time I saw her (a week before she passed) was to keep planning my beautiful wedding and that when I walked down the isle she would be with me. It was not so much about losing my dream wedding as it was I felt like I let my grandmother down in some way by giving up the wedding plans. It is pain I still feel, I don’t think I will ever stop feeling as I am still crying about those words at this very moment.

The other reason my life has slowly gotten away from me? Moving. FUCK. MOVING. Please excuse my language as I typically don’t write in a profane manner (I do enough swearing when I talk, it does not need to spill over into my writing), but fuck moving. We started our house search about two months before the end of our lease. This was about the same time last year that we began our search, so we did not think much of it until any place that we liked REFUSED to hold the house for more than two weeks. Seriously? I had my last home on hold a month before we moved in and NOW these jerk faced property managers want no more than a two week hold? FINE. Have your two week hold. We lost two places we liked because of that stupid policy. We lost the place of our dreams because they property managers did not like our application as much as they liked someone else’s and without so much as an email to me or my realtor about it either. Memorial day rolls around, at 7am I got a property search notification and the house was PERFECT. It was in the neighborhood we wanted, it is less than five miles from my fiancés’ job and we moved so fast that no one else had a chance to even look at it before our application was in. We got them to extend the damn 2 week hold so we had a few extra days and everything was moving along wonderfully.

Once everything got moved is where my lovely career was derailed slightly. My office is where all the boxes of stuff we did not know what to do with were put. My office is literally just a pile of boxes. It is hard to work when you have no where to work. I despise mixing my spaces. My bedroom is where I relax, watch netflix, play video games and sleep. My living room is where I watch television, play with my dogs and entertain. My dinning room is where I eat meals. WHERE THE HELL AM I SUPPOSE TO WORK WHEN MY OFFICE IS JUST A PILE OF BOXES?????? Yes, that sentence really did deserve all caps. I have been sitting in literally the same chair all day in my living room using a large ottoman as a desk space to build an entire website.

So here I am, at the end of my work day, making my first attempts at getting back on course after my two month detour. First of all, I AM A WRITER! have articles you need written? I CAN DO THAT! No really, I have degrees in communications, I went to graduate school. I even presented papers at regional and national conferences. I know what I am doing! I do websites! Websites are fun! I do not have to be in your area to help you out! I am great with phone meetings, I LOVE google hangouts and Skype which allow me to screen share so we can be on the same page when going over the site! Contact me (hence the whole contact page thing in the menu up top!) No seriously, do it! I am cheaper than most firms you will talk to since I am freelance! I also do social media marketing. I am awesome with business pages on Facebook and twitter I can turn $100 of your advertising money into 150+ likes and follows in less than a month (no guarantees but that is the average I have achieved!). And again, I’m cheaper than any reputable firm!

Step two, I am going to go write and edit and figure out my next move in becoming a published author. Going along with that, if any of you have ties to agents or publishers or are published, leave me a comment or contact me through my contact page because I would LOVE some advice on what to do next and how I can up my chances of getting a book deal. Would love it! 

Step three, tell my friend what happened and accept the sympathetic looks and talk I will have to go through when I tell them that I lost my grandmother, I lost my wedding and I was too afraid of how many tears I would spill telling them that I waited two months to say it. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Hopefully I will stick to my ten day timeline and have some more to write about in ten days or less!!