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Why the US Banking Industry Has Problems

17 May 2012

I recently opened an account with a US bank to avoid the PayPal foreign exchange fee when I transfer payments from Smashwords and All Romance eBooks. I was looking at my balance this morning and noticed a negative balance. O_o The account was opened two days ago, I sent them a cheque for $600 but my available balance was negative $400. What kind of funny math is that?

So I called customer service.

Me: Why is my available balance negative?

Bank rep: For new accounts, we put a hold on the initial deposit for two weeks.

Me: Then the available balance should be $0, not negative $400.

Silence.

Bank rep: Let me check with my supervisor.

Me: Okay.

Ten minutes later.

Bank rep: Actually, for new accounts, we only put $400 on hold, so you have access to $200 of your deposit.

Me: Then why is the available balance negative $400 instead of positive $200?

Bank rep: That’s the way the system works. You have access to $200 of your $600 deposit.

Me: Then the available balance should be positive $200. However, since the available balance is negative $400, I think someone put a hold of $1000 on my account.

Bank rep: No, you’re wrong. The hold is only $400.

Me: The difference between between negative $400 and positive $600 is $1000.

Bank rep: No, it’s $200. You have access to $200.

Me: No, I don’t according to what I see on the bank web site. The available balance says negative $400.

Bank rep: So you have access to $200.

Me: No, I don’t because the available balance is negative. And to go from positive $600 to negative $400, the bank would’ve had to put a hold for $600 to get to $0, then another hold for $400 to get to negative $400, which would total a hold of $1000. The difference between negative $400 and positive $600 is $1000. Where you’re getting the $200 is by summing negative $400 and positive $600, which is the wrong calculation.

Bank rep: I know how to do math.

Me: I don’t think you do. (Yeah, I was pretty pissed off at this point.)

Silence. I know she wants to tell me to fuck off, but she was very well trained.

Bank rep: Do you want to talk to my supervisor?

Me: Please.

It took another fifteen minutes to get the supervisor on the line. She started by explaining to me their hold policy and I had to interrupt her before I lost my temper and raised my voice. I asked her to take out a calculator and walked her through the calculation, and then she realized whoever keyed in my deposit put a hold of $1000 on my account.

Oy.

Shouldn’t rudimentary math skills be a requirement to work for a bank?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 19 May 2012 8:34 AM

    At least she didn’t tell you that you didn’t know how to do math.

    Yeah, happened to me. Would you be surprised to know that it was a male customer representative?

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