Friday, March 9, 2007

Marty Robertson's Nightmare with Washington Mutual

I found this little travel tip.

[B]ring along a backup credit card that you keep separate from the rest of your cards. Should anything happen to your primary credit cards, you will still have a means for charging purchases. Also, be sure to get a local collect telephone number for your bank in case anything happens to your credit card, since corporations’ toll-free 800 numbers can only be accessed from within the U.S. and Canada. These numbers are typically printed on the reverse side of most credit cards.

However, even these tips may not have helped Marty Robertson.

Sure it was a drag to have my wallet stolen while riding the Metro subway last Wednesday. It’s invasive; I lost about 100 euros in cash, and all my credit cards. But the hassle I have had with the banks ever since is unbelievable.

I promptly reported the loss that same day to the stolen cards center and was told that the accounts were closed. When I called Santa Barbara Teachers Federal Credit Union (SBTFCU) I was told that Megan’s ATM would still work. But on Friday evening, when we tried Meg’s card, it was swallowed by the ATM; turns out that it was viewed as possible fraudulent activity and so we were left with no cards at all....

No one at Washington Mutual (WaMu) would help me. They kept shuffling me from department to department until I was cut off two different times. It was then that I realized that I was running out of minutes on my cell phone (The only way to recharge the minutes is to have a credit card). I tried making the overseas collect call they suggest, but it did not work on a cell phone, pay phone or even the home phone of a kind Greek family that has befriended us. Because of this I was unable to connect with US Bank and since SBTFCU was closed I resorted to emails. I emailed all three institutions to call me; thankfully I can receive calls without charge. By Sunday morning I was getting a bit worried, no phone calls. I finally received an email from one of our two WaMu card accounts saying that they could not help me via email and that I needed to call them. Did they even read my email telling them that I could not call them? We have a little cash left so I bought a local SIM chip for my phone and called. We were disconnected during a transfer and put on hold for over 35 minutes. They refused to call us back. The man (Scott #2069) who helped us was able to confirm the closing of one card but said he was unable to help us with our other WaMu account. He took our phone number and said he would transfer us to someone would help us more quickly. After 20 minutes on hold we were patched back to him. As our time was running out we asked him if he would please call us back. He then explained that he couldn’t make outgoing calls. So why did he take our number in the first place? He then transferred us to someone else who then transferred us to a recording that said the offices were closed and that we would need to call back tomorrow. The recording hung up.

I then Skyped (computer to computer phone calls) Rich back in SB and he dialed the WaMu number for me. He was told that WaMu would not call me back. Next call to WaMu he held the phone up to the speaker of his computer and I talked through the computer to the representative....after an hour of being shuffled through several people, we were finally told by our sarcastic supervisor for the day, Jason SPH Team 63 New York, that the fraud department was closed, and that he would not pass the message on. It was unbelievable. He gave me his supervisor’s name, Alex, but would not give me his extension. Add to that the hour Rich and I spent on the phone the next night. In the end a man named George gave me a case number and promised me a call back, which of course never happened. The real irony is that in between phone transfers they play a WaMu commercial stating that they offer excellent service and a personal relationship. What a joke!

Also see RedBlueChristian and New Covenant and The Consumerist. And probably some more blogs by the time this is settled.



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