Saturday, June 18, 2011
Bank of No Common Cents
The other day I received a call from Boy #1. He was at school, calling from a school phone, not his cell phone. I guess that should have been a clue that something was wrong. "Mom," he said in a panicked voice, "can you cancel my phone and my debit card? Someone stole my backpack with my wallet, my phone, and my keys in it." He had been playing basketball and the backpack was on the ground about 10 feet away from him, and when he went over to get it.....GONE. He had reported it and searched.....nothing. So I hung up and cancelled his phone, which took maybe a minute, and then called the bank. After several minutes of pressing a few buttons I finally got through to an actual human. She asked me numerous questions designed to prove my identity and then cancelled his card. "And can you please send out a new card?" I asked. "No," she replied, "I have to speak to him. He is the cardholder." "Well," I said, "he is a minor, he is at school, without a phone because his backpack got stolen, which is WHY I'm calling you to cancel the card. I'm on the account with him, the money in the account is MY money, can't we use a little common sense here? Wouldn't it seem reasonable that if someone calls to cancel a card that maybe they would want a new card sent out?" Apparently, Bank of America is short on common sense, though. This is the same bank that recently installed thick bulletproof glass with no speaker holes in front of all the tellers' windows--so now you have to scream through the glass, "I'd like THREE HUNDREDS and TWO FIFTIES," etc. But I'm getting off-track. The woman from "customer service" continued......."No, we have to speak to him because you could be impersonating someone to get a new card sent out." "But YOU asked me all those security questions designed to prove that it's OK to speak to me. Are you saying that your security procedures are not really secure?" I asked. "No," she said, "that's just our policy." And, of course, it's useless to try to argue or use common sense in situations like that. I politely said thanks and ended the call. Then Boy #1 called me again. He had found his backpack in a gym, away from the basketball courts. Amazingly, everything was in it, even his money. We ended up going into the bank and getting his card reactivated. Because, in the end, it turned out that the bank had not actually cancelled the card, but had just put it on "hold." The whole thing took two minutes, less than the time I spent on hold earlier when I called to cancel the card. Sometimes, strangely enough, incompetence actually works for you.