Bank of the West - Oakland, CA / Lying to customers!
I have been a customer of Bank of the West located at 2127 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, since 2004. The account was on my name but never experienced any problem depositing or cashing any check, including checks payable to me and my husband, such as tax refund checks. The bank never required us to open a join account for this purpose, which was one of the reasons why I loved this bank. If only they did require us to open a join account for depositing or cashing this kind of check, we would not hesitate to open one, but they never did, so opening a join account there never crossed our minds.
In the beginning of 2005, my husband fell severely ill which caused him losing 100 lbs and almost losing his life. For 1.5 years he was fighting for his life, lying in bed (in hospital most of the time), depending on feeding tube, medicines and miracles to stay alive. His dying condition had forced me to be the sole decision maker on everything. That was why I became a payee (as advised by a Social Service agent) when we applied for SSDI.
The first SSDI check (with my name as a payee) received in November 2006 and we deposited it at the same branch of the Bank of the West. The teller didn’t inform us that we needed to open a join account for that kind of check and we experienced no problem at all since then, until...
l May 10, 2007, teller Lan (who actually was the one persuaded me to open an account in that branch) refused to deposit the same check (yes, we’re talking about deposit here, not cash in). She said we needed a join account for that kind of check. After a few minutes of arguing, we asked to speak with the Manager.
Hazim Elbgal, who according to his business card was a Customer Manager, showed up a few minutes later and informed us we couldn’t deposit the check unless we open a join account that my husband couldn’t access (how much sense does it make?). When we asked why they let us depositing that kind of checks all this time, he repeatedly answered, “I don’t know”, which is an irresponsible response considering these tellers were under his supervision. We ended up closing the account and opened a join account at another bank instead. See, if only they played nice, we would have opened a join account with them and this complaint would never been issued.
l On May 11, 2007, after consulting with a lawyer friend of ours, we sent a letter of complaint to Bank of the West demanding an explanation of the sudden change of policy on SSDI check’s acceptance (with the account holder’s name as a payee) and why we were never previously informed.
l 5 days later, May 16, 2007 at around 4:45PM, after sending multiple faxes with no response, a lady named Kim Rodriguez left a message (saying she would take care of it) and a call back number on our answering machine.
l The next day, May 17, 2007, my husband returned the call to find the phone number Kim Rodriguez gave us was disconnected and not in service. He tried twice with the same result.
l Friday, May 18, 2007, a lady named Margaret Teuysel (spelling might not be correct) who claimed to be the real Customer Manager called me at my office. Her statement as the real Customer Manager made me wonder: if she was the real Customer Manager, does that mean Hazim Elbgal was a phony one? Whatever she meant by real (she indeed emphasized this word), she acted as, if not more irresponsible as Hazim Elbgal by telling me the following lies:
She said my husband never returned their call at all (please re-read the last paragraph of page 1)
She claimed that on April 1st, 2007, we were depositing the SSDI check at their 2127 Broadway-Oakland branch and a teller named Denise helped us. During the transaction, Margaret claimed, teller Denise had informed us that it was going to be the last time they allowed us to deposit the check and we should open a join account next time.
When I told Margaret that we didn’t deposit the April’s SSDI check at Oakland branch, she immediately corrected, “oh, I mean on March 1st, 2007.” This is when I caught her lying, clumsily, insulting my intelligence. Apparently she didn’t check my records prior to making such a lie. Being an investigator’s wife for more than 6 years, I always keep records of almost everything for just in case. I found this to be helpful, particularly in this case.
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