And Don't Forget To Give Me Back My Black T-Shirt
January 1, 2011 12:09 PM   Subscribe

After a pretty horrid turn of events, I'm left feeling unsatisfied by my bank's loss prevention department. What are my options?

The last week of 2010 has not been kind to me. After having to extend my holiday trip by almost a week thanks to the blizzard that hit New York last Sunday, I discovered on Tuesday that my apartment had been broken into. While most of the important stuff is here with me, the thieves were able to steal some checks.

To make a long story short, Chase's loss prevention department has been almost universally unhelpful. I've had five conversations with personnel there, including a supervisor, and all of them have been unsatisfactory, to say the least.

The damage so far, in addition to the general rudeness, lack of communication, and unwillingness to even appear to be helpful in any way: over $100 in fees have been charged to my account for the privilege of having some obviously fraudulent checks stopped, and my account has been put on hold, leaving me with $20 in cash to cover the next several days (including my travel home from New Orleans, something that's going to require a cab ride at the very least).

I was not warned in advance, or even after the fact, about the fees that would be charged (for the fucking PRIVILEGE of having Chase do anything to protect my money). I was not informed that a hold would be put on my account, or given any option to access funds before that went into effect. No matter how politely I have inquired*, no solutions have been offered, no suggestions have been made, and no one has even pretended to be sympathetic to this really awful situation I'm in. If anything, I've been made to feel like a thief.

At this point, the only light at the end of this long, shitty tunnel is that the process for restoring my account involves closing out the account and re-opening a new one. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to find a new bank which would provide better customer service, or which offers a more understanding identity theft and loss prevention strategy. Or possibly to wheedle my way into some perks by bringing all of this to the attention of someone with more power in this situation. I also wouldn't be terribly opposed to bringing my situation to the attention of the media via those awful "Seven On Your Side" local news gimmicks.

Is this an option? I mean, is this just the way it is? Are all banks this awful about stuff like this? Are there any banks with branches in the New York area that can provide better customer service and the convenience of easy access to branches and ATM's? Or, hell, actually include loss prevention in the base line services they offer? What should my game plan be, at this point? When I go into my branch bank on Tuesday, who should I ask to talk to and how should I frame all of this?

Data points: I'm a pretty low-level Chase customer (most basic checking option, no lines of credit or loans or anything), and my account was acquired when they bought Washington Mutual a few years ago. I'm single, in my late 20's, and not a homeowner or an heiress or anything like that - I don't even have student loans.

*And I have inquired VERY politely, trust me. I have been nothing but good-natured and respectful on the phone; in fact when I called yesterday and today I made sure to sympathize with being at work on a holiday weekend, wished everyone a happy new year, all that treacly jazz. I've also made it clear over the phone that I understand they have to do what they have to do in terms of keeping my money secure; I'm mainly just unhappy with the level of customer service they're providing.
posted by Sara C. to Work & Money (36 answers total)
My only suggestion is a small one, when you get back home go to your branch in person. Wear a business outfit: suit or business dress. Be polite, cordial, but insistent. Ask to talk to the manager. They have the ability to refund all fees, which they should.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 12:15 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I realize this isn't going to be a really . . . widely held opinion . . . but in general, I'm surprised that loss prevention in *particular* hasn't been cordial with you. I mean, they have to charge the fees and if they didn't tell you in advance, they can't NOT charge them, but they were supposed to tell you. Run of the mill customer service I don't generally have high expectations for, but the loss prevention people at my bank(s) (where I worked) were generally pretty happy to talk to a normal person who was behaving in a sane fashion.

The thing about the fees not being disclosed to you verbally or in writing (as in, via email) before they charged them is problematic, and while in general you did agree to a stop check fee when you opened the account, the reality is that it's best practice and generally the DONE THING to tell you when they're going to do it. (Additionally, stopping checks is tricky. It's gotten better but the system does WAY BETTER with blocking electronic transactions via debit card than it does preventing particular PIECES OF PAPER from being honored, which sucks.) So, anyway, that is a problem, and also any general rudeness is a problem. You'll need the names of said rude people and the date/time you called and spoke with that person.

Currently, I bank with E*Trade online, and I've had nothing but good experiences with their customer support people, up to and including when they had to charge me a $5 fee for a check copy during a giant debacle not caused by them. Other than when I could personally follow up on my own business when I worked at a bank, I've never received better service than from E*Trade.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:19 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: More helpful info I just thought of:

My roommates (thank the goddess for roommates!) did the sensible thing and filed a police report for the break-in, and our precinct has been great about doing the necessary detective work to catch the people who did this.

Will arriving at my branch with a copy of the police report specifying that the checks were stolen from me help my case, or does it really not matter?

Since it's Chase, should I go to the branch of what used to be WaMu where I originally opened the account years ago, or would it be better to go to my neighborhood branch, where it's probable that the staff knows about the mini-crime wave we've been having and has a relationship with the precinct?
posted by Sara C. at 12:30 PM on January 1, 2011

In general, you'll probably get much better customer service at credit unions than at commercial banks, as a small retail customer.

Keeping your money "secure" isn't so much any bank or financial institution's responsibility, as it is yours, or perhaps, a shared responsibility between you and the bank/institution. If you fail in one part, they're not going to pick that up, generally, and in this case, you failed to keep account documents secure.

Next time, instead of opening a single checking account, open at least 2. Call one something like "holding" and the second "transactions." Don't have paper checks printed for "holding," but, if you do use paper checks, have them printed for "transactions." Don't have a check card/ATM card issued for "holding," but if you use check card transactions/ATM machines, have one issued for "transactions." Have both accounts made available for online management; think very carefully about having them linked for ATM transactions, and if you do, guard your ATM card with your life, at all times. Have your paychecks, and other income sources direct deposited to "holding." As you need to, transfer money from "holding" to "transaction" to cover your bills, check card and ATM activity, via online account management. If you don't have "holding" and "transaction" linked on the the ATM/check card, and you ever you lose your check card/ATM card, your checks, etc., you can quickly open a new "transaction" account, and continue operating, while your old "transaction" account closes, paying out legitimate drafts, and rejecting others. You won't even have to tell employers, or other income sources, as their direct deposit link won't need to change.

You may still be charged fees for stop payment items on your old transaction account, as it does cost a credit union or bank more to process these exception items. But if you can maintain a low 4 figure balance in "holding," you can probably find a credit union or bank that will give you one or more "transaction" accounts without monthly fees on either account.
posted by paulsc at 12:33 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Re: your response - I would go to the branch that probably is aware of the crime in your area over the time you were gone, and I would take the police report with me.

Questions I thought of that might be relevant: did they stop a bunch of individual check numbers, or did they stop the range? (1121, 1124, 1156, or 1120-1200)

Why are they stopping checks if the account is being put "on hold" since "on hold" means nothing is going to process through anyway, AND they're having you open a whole new account?

I think at the branch, my strategy might be to try to get back some amount of the stop check fees since it sounds to me from your description that they're largely unnecessary given the account's been frozen.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:42 PM on January 1, 2011

Best answer: You need to stop being polite. You need to demand what you want - you really need to insist. I'm not suggesting you go nuts, just that you need to be very firm. For example, "it is not acceptable that I don't have access to my money. You must allow me to get some cash. I need to speak to your manager right now."

When this gets straightened out, try TD bank. I've had great customer service from them. They even sent a 25$ gift card to me totally out of the blue after my debit card was mistakenly declined!
posted by yarly at 12:44 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I also suggest a credit union. When my debit card number was stolen, I went into the branch. Within a couple of minutes, I was ushered into the vice president's office. He and I went over the recent transactions and had put the missing money back in my account right then. After years of abuse by banks - a fee for not having a minimum balance? - this was a revelation.
posted by sugarfish at 12:51 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I bank with Wachovia (First Union when I opened my account, now Wells Fargo), and I absolutely love their customer service. I don't know what they do to train their people, but I have never had a bad interaction. It's not hugely convenient for me, as I live in Astoria and the branches are all in Manhattan (or Jersey), but it's worth it to me.

As for your fraudulent checks--don't know know if systems have changed, but when this happened to me years ago, all I had to do was sign an affidavit of forgery. No police report required.
posted by torticat at 12:56 PM on January 1, 2011

You'll want to ask them when the stop-payment order expires. I think it is usually 2 weeks if you call, and a few months if you notify them in person. If the thieves hold onto the check for long enough, your order will have expired and the check will go against your account.

I've had a similar issue twice with my checking account. Both times, the bank advised that it is best to just close the account and open a new one. No fees, and a permanent solution. They personally monitored my closed account to make sure that legitimate debits (like automatic withdrawals) went through for a period of one month -- enough time for me to get with other companies and let them know my new account number. Believe it or not, they called me every time something was presented to the closed account, to verify with me whether or not it was legitimate. All with no fee. And, with a new account opened right away, I was never without access to my money.

You'll want the police report. At least at my bank, they requested the police report number and got themselves a copy of the report. Also, a store might want a copy. For example, the thief writes a check to the grocery store. They present it to your bank, and it is declined. The store believes you wrote a hot check. However, the onus is on the store to make sure that the check was written validly (that's why they are supposed to check for ID). A police report helps with this conversation.

My checking is with Wells Fargo. But, I'm sure someone else will say they've had terrible experience with them... someone has had a bad experience with pretty much all banks. One bank that almost never gets criticized is USAA. I do a lot of business with them, but like having a local bank. If you don't mind not having a local branch (but of course you are able to use debit cards at any bank, and they reimburse the fees), you might consider them.
posted by Houstonian at 12:57 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One thing I would say is that when you go into a branch or next call or whatever you decide to do, be very clear what you're asking for. By all means complain in general about the poor customer service, but complaints are much much effective when there is something you want - a refund on your fees for example, or an apology - that you very clearly articulate and that the bank can actually give you.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:04 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I had a similar experience and Wells Fargo called me, told em there was suspicious activity that they'd moved the account already, sent me a new ATM card, that I could get cash in any bank, they'd already refunded the money and all overdraft fees temporarily and I'd get a report to fill out in the mail to make it all permanent. Anything else? Um... no thanks guys! I was very pleasantly surprised by the way it turned out after hearing all the horror stories about identity theft (my ATM card was cloned). I know people have had bad experienced with Wells Fargo but I've been very happy with their customer service.
posted by fshgrl at 1:06 PM on January 1, 2011

Best answer: The Consumerist posted this contact info for Chase's "executive specialist," who apparently handles customer service complaints when other avenues have been exhausted. If you don't get good results from going into your bank branch with the police report, you might try giving that number a call.

So sorry to hear about your banking troubles, and particularly sorry to hear about the break-in. Good luck! Hopefully this will all be sorted soon.
posted by brina at 1:15 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd also like to recommend looking into credit unions if you plan to move your accounts. When my house was robbed a few years ago and all our laptops were stolen, my credit union as great about it. And there was not a single charge to us - not for closing accounts, or issuing new ATM cards, or setting up new accounts. Also, no charge for having multiple accounts with them either.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:19 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding yarly - do not let them shit all over you. You are right in thinking you have done nothing wrong. As such, your bank should not be punishing you. Demand a refund of all the fees incurred as well as a removal of the hold on your money. It doesn't matter what sort of account holder you are - as always when dealing with customer services, be assertive and firm and don't take any bullshit.

It seems that there's no federal financial ombudsman agency in the US but don't be afraid to threaten (or actually) escalate to the appropriate authorities. All of this may well work out better in person than on the phone.
posted by turkeyphant at 1:21 PM on January 1, 2011

Currently, I bank with E*Trade online, and I've had nothing but good experiences with their customer support people, up to and including when they had to charge me a $5 fee for a check copy during a giant debacle not caused by them. Other than when I could personally follow up on my own business when I worked at a bank, I've never received better service than from E*Trade.

I had the opposite experience. It was a nightmare banking with them. Just because I logged in during one of my travels, they quietly locked me out and refused to let me access my account or even tell me why. I went into a physical branch and they called customer support and just handed me the phone. It took two more visits, my passport and two other forms of ID, and they finally told me why. And that was just the start.
posted by special-k at 1:30 PM on January 1, 2011

Mod note: few comments removed - "lock door after horse is out" advice that doesn't answer the question needs to go to email, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2011

Have you considered getting a checking account with ING? Their phone support is incredible and they have incredibly helpful in some really odd situations. They have ATMs all over (basically any 7-Eleven), will mail checks out for you right away (so nothing in your hands to get stolen).

More importantly, if/when you close the Chase account, get a letter from them explicitly stating that your account was closed on such and such date. I say that because there was an AskMe years ago where someone passed a check from a closed account, and the account holder was charged with fraud and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He had to take that letter down to the nearest precinct to get this resolved.
posted by special-k at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2011

Yikes, sorry to hear about the mess. I've used Bank of America for a while but have been thinking of dropping it and switching over completely to Fidelity when I run out of checks. Fidelity offers a checking account called mySmartCash. I think you need a minimum of $2,500 to open an account with Fidelity, but once you do you can apply for their checking account which has some nice perks. You can use the ATM card at any bank and they'll refund the fees, so no more desperately searching for a specific bank ATM, you just use whatever's closest. If you travel, they charge a 1% foreign transaction fee (as opposed to the usual 3% I've been hit with before). And you get unlimited checks for free, which is nice for someone who still pays stuff offline. Downside is that you have to mail in any checks you want to deposit (and it takes a couple extra days to clear), but if you're not living paycheck to paycheck, it's not bad. You still do direct deposit, you can do online banking, and they offer FDIC and what not. Personally, I probably wouldn't have done it but the actual brick and mortar branch is right near my work on 23rd and Fifth, so you might want to go there and inquire. They have a few other locations in the city, so depending on where you are, it might be convenient. The folks there are most helpful (and they have free pens for you to take... nice). Hope things get sorted out.
posted by jng at 1:37 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

From my perspective the checks are the problem. You can't do anything about the past but in the future i'd urge you to do as much electronic banking as possible. In the past year I have had both my atm /debit and credit cards skimmed. The customer service has been alright. Chase proactively informed me of suspected fraudulent card usage. The problem with checks as you found out is, you are liable for the amount of the check. With e-banking there is no stop payment etc. It took awhile for me to make this switch but I am so glad i did.
posted by Xurando at 1:47 PM on January 1, 2011

Nthing (1) It's time to stop being so nice and (2) Be clear about what you want the bank to do.

(1) Being polite is not incompatible with being firm and insistent. I usually handle the customer service messes in our life because I am comfortable making it really clear that I am unhappy with the answers I'm getting. This really helps.

(2) Chase should refund any fees they have charged you without telling you about them. Take a close look at what people upthread have said about their banks' response to similar situations and do your best to get Chase to do the same (or at lease reverse out the ridiculousness).

Also, the next time you talk to someone just immediately ask for their supervisor. Tell the first person that you are extremely unhappy about the service you've gotten but don't waste your breath with details. Save it for someone more senior.

If all of this fails - just walk and cut your losses. I have had bad experiences with so many banks it's laughable. I've only tried one credit union (Golden 1) but they weren't any better. The only reason I am happy with Citibank is because my employer has a special relationship with them and so we get special treatment. It is such a sad state of affairs.

Good luck. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by lvanshima at 2:03 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: I'd like to reiterate again that the problem I'm having is not so much with how to keep my financial information secure in the future, but how to deal with my bank in the present. I would love for them to waive the fees, but my main concern at this point is the way I've been treated.

This is quite literally the most hostile customer service I've ever experienced, from anyone, in any situation. To a level that isn't even about being charged fees I think are unfair - there's been some really underhanded behavior, and it's causing a severe breach in my trust for a financial institution I've depended on for several years.
posted by Sara C. at 2:07 PM on January 1, 2011

Best answer: Nthing credit unions and talking to a local branch manager in person. Bring the police report. I'd also go to the one in your neighborhood - they're more likely to have done this several times by now, if this is the type of crime the area has been experiencing.
posted by SMPA at 2:09 PM on January 1, 2011

Best answer: I am pretty good with sort of thing, but when I saw your problem was with Chase... damn.

- Yes in person to the branch. In my experience, only the branch manager can refund that much in fees. Must be in person.

-Yes show up with the police report.

Be as nice in person as possible. This will be hard, just do it! The hold on your account is difficult to remove, but don't worry about that so much. Your main goal is to get the funds returned.

Once you get stuff refunded... go ahead and close your account on the spot or do so in a few days /weeks when the hold is lifted. Never bank with Chase again.

I banked with Chase in Manhattan many moons ago. The DEVIL. When Wamu became Chase, I closed my account immediately. I already had 2 unusual fees on my account one week into the wamu/chase changeover, which I had to get refunded in person, and I was one of 12 folks waiting at the branch that morning waiting to do this.

It's Chase, not you.

I don't live in NYC anymore, so I can't recommend a good credit union. Just writing in to tell you (a) how to fix this once you get home (you won't be able to do over the phone - sorry) and (b) Chase became pretty odious in the mid-to-late 90's and they were constantly implementing near-illegal shit at the end of my 10 years of banking with them. RUN.
posted by jbenben at 2:46 PM on January 1, 2011

I went to Key bank when I got my first job and had an account there for years. In their defense, the tellers at one branch were particularly nice. But after five years, one of their ATMs made a mistake and didn't give us our money, but deducted it from our account (this was over ten years ago and that money mattered to us so much then). I can't describe the fury inspired by the distrust and coldness I received when we had to go resolve it (turns out, a lot of people had the same issue with the same ATM that day, but we were still treated with suspicion).

I withdrew all my money, went to a credit union and never looked back. Nthing them to the Nth degree.
posted by history is a weapon at 3:54 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whenever I've had frustrating service encounters such as this, I've had very good success by writing a letter and sending it via certified mail to one of the main officers of the company, usually with a carbon copy to a similar high-ranking official. You can get their names and addresses off of sites like Hoover's Online or from the company's own web site. For example, I had a very irritating situation with (they didn't cancel after one month and charged me for a second) some time ago, and was getting nowhere online or via telephone with their customer service people. I wrote certified letters (mail that requires a signature usually gets more attention) to the president and senior vice president of the company stating my problem and expressing my frustration and disappointment at the very limited assistance I'd received thus far (listing the dates and names of the people I'd spoken to, even if it was just a first name). I received a response in less than a week with a full credit for the erroneous charges and an assurance that they'd follow up on the problems in their customer service department. Drop a letter to a couple of Chase executives detailing your problem, name names if you have them, and desribe how unhelpful the employees have been. Then ask if there is anything the company can do to reverse these excessive fees that were incurred through no fault of your own, and ask for the name of the person that you should contact in your local branch in the future for assistance in this matter.

Just by virtue of starting a paper trail, your case will hopefully get some personal attention and at the very least you can get some or all of those fees reversed. The folks at the branch won't enjoy hearing from someone at "corporate" that their department is so unresponsive that a customer actually took the time to go over their heads. Now their department is "on the map" and the supervisors will feel (rightly or wrongly) that they're being monitored more closely and will take steps to make sure their employees are more helpful to their customers. (At least until their next performance review comes up.) Best of luck to you!
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:01 PM on January 1, 2011

Best answer: So sorry this has happened to you while you're far from home. How incredibly frustrating!

Mr. booksherpa and I bank with TD Bank (formerly Commerce) and find them incredibly lovely to deal with. We've had two identity theft incidents (prior to the Commerce > TD switch) and they handled them both well, including refunding our money rather quickly. They're also open on Sundays and have coin machines where you can convert your saved coins to bills for free.

Good luck with everything.
posted by booksherpa at 6:54 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: Hi everyone!

I'm pretty sure I have a game plan now. Here's how it's all shaking out.

Right now I'm researching whether USAA or TD Bank would be better for me. In addition to the recommendations here, I put out feelers with my facebook hive mind, and those same two institutions kept coming up. I love that USAA refunds all ATM fees. I also love that TD Bank has several branches in New York, because my work typically doesn't offer direct deposit and it seems like depositing checks with USAA might be onerous. This is all great because now I feel like I'm doing something proactive, not just waiting to be jerked around more by Chase.

On Tuesday, which is the first possible day I will be able to go to a Chase branch, I'm going to go to my neighborhood branch in the closest thing I have to a suit with a copy of the police report as well as a printout of all the fees charged to my account and some notes about my various calls to Loss Prevention. Hopefully they'll be willing to refund the fees charged to my account without me having to escalate the situation beyond, "well of course you guys are going to sort me out, right?"

Then a few days later I'll transfer everything into the new TD or USAA account, close out with Chase (just found out on Consumerist that they are going to start charging the former WaMu customers beaucoup fees as of Feb 8...), et voila! Right?
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 PM on January 1, 2011

Loss Prevention should have either placed a stop payment on a series of check (one flat charge, which they should have waived at your request) OR place a lost/stolen debit hard hold on your account (stops all withdrawals, but allows deposits), but not both. Appears there was definitely some poor decisions being made by the employees processing your claim. But, if you didn't actually have any loss when you requested everything, then you really started with the wrong department. Loss prevention generally only deals with cases where the account has been compromised. Checks being stolen out of your apartment are a RISK, but not a loss until they try to pay on your account, so they probably just slapped the stop payments on and that was it. If you are a victim of fraud, they go all out to protect the account. Seems backward, I know, but that's how it works. Despite that, here's how to fix some of the issues:

#1 - Go into the local branch and ask to speak with the customer service manager. Explain that you have received help from the 800 customer service department, but aren't satisfied with the outcome.

#2 - Ask manager to refund all of the stop payment fees (they can just remove the stop payments, too, and leave the hard hold on). At the very worse, you might settle for the single fee for the series of checks stop payment, but certainly not each one!

#3 - Withdraw as much money as you want. Even with a hard hold, with proper identification, you CAN withdraw your own money in person. The hold is designed for electronic transactions (and impersonators, of course). Your money is not frozen to you!

#4 - Ask the manager to open a new account (or two; see above for usefulness of separating funds). Despite having the stop payments on that series of checks, your account number and routing number have been compromised and that means that the thieves can make checks outside that range and still get to the money. Also, that hard hold is meant to be temporary protection. After all, you can't do 90% of what you need to with that on; it's just protecting your money until you make permanent changes. Keep the old account open until you transition all of your electronic deposits/withdrawals to the new account and then go back in person and ask to close the account.

#5 - The hard hold is going to screw with any electronic debits you have - so see if Chase has a way to pay specific items through the hold. Most large banks can specify - such as check #1501, debit to pay Joe's Water Company for $56.03, etc. If not, get together a list of all outstanding debits and get those moved/paid through the new account straight away.

#6 - Communicate your displeasure to the manager about the customer service you've received, because despite the "big banks don't care" mentality, the manager of that branch certainly will. Also, your comments about "underhanded behavior" and "lack of communication" etc. are all rather vague. I'm not disagreeing with your perception, but try to spend a few moments clearly articulating to the manager what specifically caused the bad service experience.

#7 - Ask the manager to sign you up for bill pay and stop using checks ... debit cards, credit cards and bill pay services are way better protected than physical checks.

#8 - Look into identify theft protection - I'm sure Chase offers that service.

#9 - Give Chase a second chance. No, I don't work for them and despite you having poor service from that department, please don't assume that the entire company is full of employees who don't care. See above regarding what that department really does. Perhaps some of your frustration is that you assumed that they should have been doing more to help you than they're meant to. After all, you didn't have an actual loss on your account, so maybe you can chalk it up to a misunderstanding between the expectations you had from them and what they thought you needed?

#10 - Good luck; hope it works out well for you and that 2011 is better! =)
posted by cyniczny at 11:02 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: To be clear, cyniczny:

A. My debit card has not been lost or stolen. I have it here with me. This is probably the source of some degree of the confusion - which, again, is why I feel they have not done really well with communication. Every time I have spoken to someone, I have explained exactly what the situation is. And then in every conversation, the person I'm speaking with assumes the people who broke into my apartment have complete access to my account including my debit card, PIN, and all necessary identification for full account access. When I try to clarify, they just railroad over my concern and continue as if the problem is that I lost my debit card, not that my apartment was broken into and checks were stolen. I understand they have their protocols for dealing with this, and obviously they have to be as strict as possible. But I do wish they would actually talk to me rather than just spouting off jargon that has nothing to do with what I understand the situation to be.

B. My initial call was to the main Chase customer service line. Said number gives you an option for a security breach on your account - this is the initial option that I chose. When I spoke to someone there, I was informed curtly that there was nothing they could do. The person I spoke to gave me no further information, answered none of my questions, and in no way reassured me that there was a procedure in place to deal with the situation if my account were actually breached. One of the rudest customer service calls I've ever dealt with, actually.

The following morning, Chase Loss Prevention contacted me to let me know about one check that had been red flagged. This person actually was fairly helpful, though she didn't tell me about any of the other checks and didn't tell me that I'd be charged a fee for each check that had payment stopped. Again, it was Chase that determined that there were potentially fraudulent checks, and it was Chase that contacted me in this situation.

Every time I have followed up on the matter (for instance when I noticed that there were more bad checks, and several additional fees charged), I have redialed the same Loss Prevention number that person called me from. While everyone I have spoken to has been hostile, nobody has said that I'm talking to the wrong department or that they can't do anything to help me because I'm not talking to someone who can help. It's basically a "fuck off and die" every time.

C. Several checks (to the tune of $20K or so) have been floated and intercepted by Chase. So, yes, there is a loss. If this doesn't constitute a loss, we're back at my square one of "I'd like to use a bank that includes loss prevention as a basic level of service." I'm not interested in some Orwellian bullshit where, as long as they catch the fraudulent check and don't pay out money, it's not a matter for the Security/Loss Prevention department but a matter of me "electing" to stop payment and pay a fee.

D. I am a victim of fraud. While they have succeeded in preventing the thieves from stealing my money, they have also managed to alienate the customer so badly that she is almost certain to take her business elsewhere. I mean, honestly, all I really ever wanted was a walk-through of how these things typically work, a heads up on what was going on, and some notification of when/why fees were charged or my account was going to be put on hold.

E. Even with a hard hold, with proper identification, you CAN withdraw your own money in person. The hold is designed for electronic transactions (and impersonators, of course). Your money is not frozen to you! This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. I spent 20 minutes on the phone this morning with both a CSR and a "supervisor", almost in tears because I have $20 in cash on my person, and now my account is on hold. At one point I was pleading with them to make any suggestion they could think of to help me out. Nothing. Seriously, they wouldn't even tell me "Go to a branch and make a withdrawal."
posted by Sara C. at 11:43 PM on January 1, 2011

#9 - Give Chase a second chance.

I've already given them their second chance for you, (they failed at it) so you may skip this step.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:06 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

To be clear, cyniczny: (snip)

OK, ok, you win. Chase sucks and you've been victimized twice - once by the robbers and once by the bank. I was simply trying to help you navigate how to fix all of the errors Chase has been piling on and hopefully give some "background" into why things may have been handled the way they were (right or wrong).

Repeat: #10 - Good luck; hope it works out well for you and that 2011 is better! =)
posted by cyniczny at 8:00 AM on January 2, 2011

You don't find out what kind of relationship you have with a bank until something goes wrong. For what it's worth, I had a similar, awful experience with Chase a few years ago when they made an error on my account. I will never knowingly do business with them again.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 12:29 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second TD bank, great service and friendly in every interaction, working-class hours, low cost services, and a Canadian company for those of us unwilling to be sheep for the fantastically corrupt US banking system. I left Chase for TD and have never regretted it. Chase sucks ass.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:23 AM on January 4, 2011

Response by poster: Just got back from the bank. I'm glad I decided to go with a neutral, "now remember these guys haven't done anything to you yet..." stance. The folks at my neighborhood branch were extremely helpful, explained everything, and seemed horrified at how rude the folks on the phone had been.

They were able to waive the fees!

I am still planning on making the switch to another bank, because "being robbed on a holiday weekend when you're traveling and funds are limited" is a nightmare that Chase as a company doesn't seem able to handle to my satisfaction. I'm glad the folks at the branch were helpful, but this is definitely still a concern. I'm still flipping back and forth between TD and USAA. Once I decide, it's new checking account time!
posted by Sara C. at 12:48 PM on January 4, 2011

I'm still flipping back and forth between TD and USAA. Once I decide, it's new checking account time!

Here's a random simple test for each of them. Take $100 in cash (in bills no smaller than 20s), go into each branch, go up to a teller, give them the cash and ask for 100 singles or 20 fives if you'll be embarrassed to spend that many singles at places. Note how the teller treats you, a complete stranger and not a current customer. Your money is good, they have singles/fives, they can help you with this. If they choose not to, or are nasty about it, you may have an answer as to who you'd prefer.
posted by booksherpa at 7:19 PM on January 4, 2011

Here's a random simple test for each of them.

This may prove difficult in the latter case, because USAA's only branch is in northwestern San Antonio.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:00 PM on January 15, 2011

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