Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blowing off Steam

Last summer: I was looking through my purse, and realized I had "lost" my bank card. I knew it was in the house somewhere. I remembered using it when I was writing out my bills. I tore the place apart, but I just couldn't find it. (It was under the computer keyboard.) This had happened a few times, and I was getting tired of it. So I decided to create a backup. When I called to order a new card, I told Iowa State Bank not to cancel the old card. Instead, I asked them to take the limit down to $1. After a few weeks, the new card came and, of course, I found the old one. I then called Iowa State and told them to raise the limit back up on the old one, because I'd found it. There was a bit of resistance by customer service, but I explained that I was putting it in a safe deposit box to use if I ever lost the new one. Smart, right? They acquiesced and life went on.

Last Friday: I'm making a deposit on the Coralville strip at UI Credit Union, and the envelope won't slide in right. I futz around with it too long, and the machine eats my card. Dammit. Saturday morning I go to the Credit Union. They say Iowa State Bank needs contact them with a special form in order to have the card returned. Otherwise it will be destroyed. So I go to Iowa State, go up to Teller Guy and explain the situation: I'm leaving town for Arkansas, and I need to have the card mailed to my work address in Iowa City. I'll use my backup card in the interim. There's a bit of paperwork involved, but I'm told it should be no problem. I can use the old card, and the new one will be mailed to me and waiting when I get back. Teller Guy gives me the name and extension for the Girl Upstairs who is to re-acquire my card, in case I need to contact her. I leave town a few hours later.

Monday: I use my backup card online to buy a song or two from Itunes. It works fine.

Last night: I attempt to use my backup card at a store, and it comes up cancelled. Fortunately, Don foots the bill for me.

This morning: I call Iowa State Bank. Customer Service Guy answers. I explain there's been a mix-up and I need my card reactivated. He puts me on hold for several minutes. When he returns, he tells me they have a policy against having two cards for the same person for the same account. I try to keep my temper - it's not his fault - and explain that there's a very good reason why I have a backup card. In fact, I have a backup card for an occasion JUST LIKE THIS ONE. I go over the conversation I had with Teller Guy on Saturday. I explain to Customer Service Guy that I'm in Arkansas, as I told Teller Guy last Saturday that I would be, and I'd really like to get back next weekend so I can go to a hearing I have scheduled Tuesday. I need a card NOW. There's another interminable hold as he confers with the powers "upstairs." Then he tells me that the cancellation is not reversible, but he's got a plan. I can just go to the bank that ate my second card and get it from them. He got special permission and everything. I take a very deep breath and explain to Customer Service Guy that I'd love to do that, but as I told them last Saturday, IT'S IN IOWA. I'm in ARKANSAS. How I'm supposed to achieve this feat of teleportation is not exactly clear to me. Customer Service Guy has taken my number and will get back to me.

Point #1: I made it clear on Saturday I was leaving town and would use the old card. What genius in decided it would be a hoot to cancel the card I TOLD THEM I was using and strand me eight hours away? I'd really love to know.

Point #2: If a card has been stolen or lost somewhere other than the user's bedroom, I can see why an irreversible cancel could be advisable. But you're going to cancel the card without any notice to me based on a policy decision, and make that irreversible? Excuse me?

Point #3: Is the air "upstairs" a little thin these days?

I'm going a tad postal at the moment. I'm taking it out here instead of on poor Customer Service Guy, who just happened to answer my call.


Customer Service Guy calls back to tell me that they are working on making a new ATM and fed-exing it to me. He doesn't know if it will be able to be a check card or just a debit card.
(Minor issue, that, as debit cards don't always work so good out of state. I've got one with the Credit Union on a backup savings account - which unfortunately only has about $50 at the moment or I'd be in less of a panic. About 50% of the time I use that card down here, the machine can't seem to find my account and/or money.)
He goes on to explain the reason he's not sure what kind of card they can get: because only two people can make them in-house and neither are present at the moment. He then says he'll call me back again. I then suggest that he contact the person "upstairs" who was responsible for retrieving my new card from the Credit Union, giving him the name. If Upstairs Girl has gotten it back, they could simply fed ex that one to me instead of dinking around with making a whole new card. Customer Service Guy thinks that's a fine idea. PS: I'm told that when the current crisis is over, they'll order me a second check card for a backup. Customer Service Guy has gotten me an exception to policy on that one. No word yet as to whether the Upstairs People expect me to pay for it, or the fedexing. Or, for that matter, whether some other genius will try to cancel the backup in the future if the same thing happens all over again.

Situation pending.



Well, Customer Service Guy must've noted the tension in my voice, because he drove over to the Credit Union and got my card from them personally. He is Fed-Exing it to me; I should get it tomorrow. I'll have to call to confirm I got it, but then it should be sufficiently functional to get me back to Iowa. He's ordered my new backup card, which should be at the office within 10 days. Then I'll just need to adjust the PIN to coincide with my current card, and I should be back to square one. *Sigh*

I'll keep an eye on the account via internet and see if I'm charged for any of this. And, of course, if I ever have to use a backup again I'll be sure a note is attached to the account to flag it, hopefully protecting me from any moron who might find it funny to strand me without funds.

Note to Iowa State Bank: I think customer service guy should be promoted "upstairs" to replace whoever screwed this up in the first place. (I'd guess that it was Upstairs Girl, as she's the person who was to retrieve my card and so the most likely to see that I was using the backup. But I can't be sure.) He obviously has enough brains to recognize a good solution for a difficult problem. And I appreciate the field trip.



So the Fed-Ex guy brings the card at 10:00 am. And was back in the truck before I could get to the door. So much for "it's going to require a signature." It would have been loads of fun if I hadn't heard the door and somebody off the street decided to appropriate the envelope. Regardless, I called Customer Service Guy and told him I got it. He said they'd make sure it was activated, and it would take about an hour before it would work properly.

To give it time, I waited about seven hours. At 5:00 I tried to use the card on a minor purchase at a nearby convenience store - I had just enough cash to cover if it didn't work. Sure enough: sale declined.

I'll try it at an ATM tomorrow, then call the bank.

The saga continues.



8:30 - My online statement indicates that I've been charged for the new backup card. I'm heading out to the ATM now to see whether or not the card I've got is worth more than the plastic it is printed on. This is going to get interesting.

9:00 - No dice. $20 is "over my daily limit." I called Customer Service Guy - he's not available. I then called the general number and got someone else. As soon as I mentioned Arkansas, he knew who I was. Apparently I'm something of a topic of conversation. I explained that I have two problems: 1) I'm down to $1 and my card doesn't work. 2) I don't think I should be charged for replacing a card that I didn't ask to be deactivated. So Customer Service Guy #2 (CSG2) is going to track down where the snafu is and call me back. He may get CSG1 involved, if he's available later. He's also going to speak to their supervisor on Tuesday (apparently she's out today) about reversing the charges on the new card. Meanwhile, I've got $1. If my UICCU card works (as I said, ATM's are hit and miss down here) I've got access to another $50 to get food for the weekend. Lucky I have a separate bank for an emergency fund. But even if I let Don pay for everything, I'd still not have enough to get back - it takes about $35 to fill the tank once these days, and the trip requires two fill-ups. I'm not a happy camper.

9:45 - I'm told it works now. I'll make another test and keep you posted.



I finally got the card to work, and made it back to Iowa today. I'm going to follow up on reversing the charges on the new card once I receive it. So I may be almost back to square one.

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