Thursday, September 29, 2011

Huntington Bank: I declare war

UPDATE: So, after I wrote the original blog post below, I posted a link to it on Facebook and I emailed it to my DebLite bloglist and also the list of media folks at Huntington.

Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles - half an hour later I got a call from my mother.

"I don't know what you did but someone from Huntington just called and asked me to have you call them." I told her what I did and she laughed. She knows when I go on the warparth, I mean business.

I was at work, so when I had a sec I called Huntington but the lady who called me wasn't in. I left a message and she called me back. The lady who called me was friendly in that almost-genuine corporate manner that I, too, am guilty of in the course of a day's work.

She informed me that they had, "expedited" fixing CollegeArabella's account, reversing the check and the overdraft fee.

They also took a look at my account and reversed my last overdraft fee that had just missed their 24/hour grace cutoff. Nice touch - seems they took the hint from my post and also from my mother who had tried to explain my issue as well, but I took it a step further.

And, what do you plan on offering my daughter for wrecking her account?

So, they gave her a $25 gift check which was the cost of the overdraft fee and although I think that's what she should have gotten for each day that she could not access her account, that lady's voice was changing from "friendly-corporate" to "keep-it-up-if you dare". I should know. I use that tone myself.

I kinda liked that part actually and that she pushed back. I'm sure dealing with this wasn't a pleasant part of her day. Even if I took this post down, and I'm not gonna, they'll have to be happy with an update, Google cache lasts a good long while. Another reason I'll never take it down is because I had to ask for the additional compensation, it wasn't just offered. And they didn't ask me either, but had they, I might have considered it. Oh well.

I also think I should leave it up because, overall, this incident is a micro-event in the world of what's happening with financial institutions today. It speaks to how banks feel that their customers are barely worth their notice and then only if they really raise a stink. And the result is less than spectacular, just some decent customer service and a Scooby Doo goodbye: We would have got away with it if it wasn't for that rascally blog.

I hope it was just a machine that made a mistake and not a person. The lady who called blamed it on an automated reader and I hope that's the case, because I was honestly worried that my complaint might get someone fired and I would never want that to happen. And the customer service person who took my original complaint was just doing her job and following Huntington's policy. But I do think that a bank as big as Huntington shouldn't be able to do what they did to my daughter and think that fixing it 3 days from whenever is ok.That they did not empower their customer rep, or her supervisor who she originally asked for help, to do more speaks to the type of company they are, not their employees.

On a day like today, when people are literally Occupying Wall Street to get the financial institutions of this country to pay attention to the little guy, my story isn't even really a drop in the bucket. But it is a tiny part of what that fight is all about.

*****Original Post*****

Huntington Bank made a mistake and posted a check to my daughter's account with a similar account number. The check did not belong to either my daughter or me. I called them, expecting this obvious mistake to be easily rectified. They opened a "dispute ticket" saying it can take 3 or more days to rectify.

If I overdraft by so much as a dollar, they would give me 24 hrs to correct it or charge me over $35. Yet, they can take their time fixing a mistake that is costing me hundreds of dollars as well as leave my daughter stranded at college with no money for 3 days or longer and not have to recompense her a dime.

How is this fair?

I set up the account with Huntington because reviews of their online banking were good. You see transactions promptly and they made it easy to transfer funds between accounts.

This is why people go to CheckSmart, Wal-Mart or any other place they can EXCEPT banks to take care of every day financial transactions. Banks, despite their claims otherwise, are meant to take care of corporations or businesses. They have no interest in helping or taking care of the needs of every day people like you and me.

So now, I am going to open a Wal-Mart Money account for my daughter as a backup to ensure that she always has cash for when her bank fails her. If it works well, then I will do the same for my personal account and all but my busines accounts. Those, I will transfer them elsewhere as soon as humanly possible if Huntington does not make this right.

I'm sure they think "making this right" entails merely putting the account back the way it was. But if they deserve $35 for an overdraft of $1, then what should they owe for overdrafting my daughter's account to over $200 and days of inconvenience?

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