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Merrill Lynch review: poor customer service

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I was laid off from my job and was informed that my 401k funds were going to remain in my Merrill Lynch retirement account until which time I could remove them, roll them over, or transfer them to another account. I do not know if Bank of America purchasing Merrill made a difference but somehow although I requested in writing to close the accout and cash out the account, half of the funds were rolled over into an IRRA. Fine. Until t he fees started kicking in. Hmm. I'm paying them for what? To hold my money? I can take the cash and put it in a savings account and MAKE money. So, I tried to call to hear my options with this account. It took FOREVER for them to locate my account and then they proceeded to sound confused when I asked about options. Really?! I called back today to inquire again although I was pretty sure I was going to close all accounts and reached the RUDEST rep on the phone. He too couldn't seem to locate my account. I gave him the account number, address, phone, spelled my name repeatedly and even offered the last four of social to verify. After trying to convince me that he wasn't trying to be difficult, he asked for my complete social. No. He asked again. I again said no, and offered additional info to verify my identity. He said without me giving my complete ss# over the phone he couldn't help me. What!? A company that prides itself on financial growth can't understand why I want to protect my indentity to some extent!. OMG. I ended the call extremely frustrated and anxious to cut all ties to this company. I guess I will try again tomorrow to find someone competent enough to help with this request. If you can avoid this company, in my opinion DO.


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Feb 05, 2013 11:01 am EST

My mother has an IRA/ IRRA/ ROTH IRA account with so called Merrill Lynch / Edge. In mid-July 2012, my sister had texted me and mentioned to me about the account. When I had called Merrill Lynch the first time, I had spoken to an Ashley. She informed me of my mother’s account, how many shares were in her account and I had to fill out the Beneficiary Distribution Form. I attend UMBC and school began in late August. Once I got the swing of things with school, I decided to take care of everything in the beginning of September.

September 10 – I had sent in the death certificate and divorce papers. I had talked to Kevin, from the Ownership Transition Team, he had asked for mom’s social and he was able to look up her information.

September 15 – I spoke to a Paul, also from the Ownership Transition Team, and had informed me to fill out the IRA / IRRA / ROTH IRA / SEP SRA / Inherited IRA transfer instruction form.

Oct. 1 – I haven’t heard anything from Merrill Lynch. My financial advisor at the time hadn’t heard anything either.

Oct. 3 – My financial advisor informed me that my sister gets 50% and I get 50% from mom’s account.

Oct. 9 – I wanted to check the status of the account and was directed to someone in the Ownership Transition team. The Beneficiary distribution form I had submitted was checked “wrong” so I had to fax the Beneficiary Distribution Form again / resign and date. Once received, I was informed “the money can be transferred tomorrow.”

Oct. 10 – I was directed to the Ownership Transition team. They requested another copy of the death certificate and informed me stating that they can’t hold it. I sent the original copy back in 2010.

Oct. 17 – I was informed my account was ready.

Oct. 18 – I was informed that the money should be in my account by the end of next week. Merrill Lynch just had to make sure that the shares were divided evenly between me and my sister.

Oct. 23 – 10:40AM Lynn from Merrill edge called me and left a voicemail. I asked for the Ownership Transition Team and spoke to Ryan. He informs me that the death certificate is missing and I ‘accidentally’ checked two boxes on Section 5. How do I “accidentally” check two boxes when he was the one that guided me on how to fill out the form?

Nov. 5th – Still nothing. So much turn around. Not working. Sent in the Inherited IRA transfer instruction form before and was informed that I need to make an account with the type similar to how mom’s account is and I need to resend a new set of forms. Financial advisor mentioned to me that my mom has an IRA and I needed my account to be an inherited IRA to avoid tax. Need to just have the money mailed out by check to be deposited and used for school.

Nov. 8: I spoke to Anya and she mentioned that I need to go back to the Beneficiary Distribution Form. My sister already has an account with Merrill Lynch. I informed Anya that I’m asking for a distribution by check so I can use the money for school.

Nov. 26 – 12:34PM: First, the Beneficiary Distribution form was approved, but they have to go through the liquidation process. Told me I should have the distribution within a week / week and a half. I don’t understand why it even takes this long for the liquidation process?

Nov. 28 – 8:20AM: I was informed that a policy was just “put into effect ”, that the money cannot be distributed to me because it has to go into mom’s estate, which was closed back in 2010, and Merrill Lynch needs an updated from of Letter of Administration from court house. I was appointed Personal Representative back in April 2007.

Dec. 5: Had taken off from work to drive down to the courthouse in La Plata at exactly 8:30AM to get letter of administration. My sister met me there and we were done by 10AM. We call Merrill Lynch in the process to speak to this wonderful lady who was so very helpful at the Register of Wills office. Merrill claims that since mom’s account was set up the way that it was set up, neither me nor my sisters are beneficiaries on the account. We were informed that there are no beneficiaries on file. Dennis calls after we leave the court house and informs me to hold off on the Estate. I am beyond upset at this point. Informed me there was a similar case so they’re going to dispute this with Merrill Lynch.

Dec. 7TH: 12:30PM I call to find out the status about the dispute. I was informed that they lost and I need to go ahead and open the Estate – I have not opened up the Estate.

DEC. 10TH: Spoke to Dennis. Had to refax to him the beneficiary form and administration. Need to follow up this Wednesday – Dec. 12. Why do I have to refax everything AGAIN?

DEC. 11TH: Faxed beneficiary distribution form again, supplemental inventory paperwork in regards to the Estate & Letter of Administration. Spoke to Dennis and he said they should be fine WITHOUT the seal.

Dec. 12TH: Said there was confusion with the account. & they needed to see the raised seal on Letter of Administration. What? Should have told me that the first time! This is getting really annoying.

DEC. 17TH: 12:30PM They’re still waiting on the Legal Department to approve the testamentary to be able to “move forward” and be able to distribute the money.

DEC.19TH Alicia had left me a message from the Ownership Transition team. I return the call. I was still told that they need a Tax ID number and the SSN will not suffice. Why? I have no idea. Neither explanation nor reasonable cause was given to me. At this point, I'm beyond livid.

JAN.2013 - brand new year; I'm hoping for all this to be done and over with. Or so you'd think. An uninterested party informs me that the SSN number will not suffice due to the fact that my mother is deceased, hence why a Tax ID number is needed. Was it so hard for Merrill to say those words? Apparently it was.

This "organization" is so disorganized, I don't even know how to describe them anymore. The Ownership Transition Team has no idea what they're doing, they have no knowledge of what they're doing nor does anyone from that Team, and I believe in that organization, give a care if someone in your family dies or if you're trying to get the benefits. All they care about is money.

If you have the chance to get your money out, you should definitely do so. Inform your friends and your family, to spare yourself from the heartache and emotional distress that I have been put through for the past 6-7 months, please do not bank with these people.

Jan 04, 2012 9:05 pm EST
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I submitted IRA minimum required withdrawal paperwork on December 15th to Merrill Lynch for a deceased spouse IRA for my mother in law. The transfer into her name had been completed two years ago. It was a small account with no executive assigned and only an 800 number. The paperwork was faxed in. I also submitted similiar paperwork to three other institutions. At all the other institutions, including two discount brokerage offices the transfers were complete in two days. I called Merrill Lynch on the 23rd who told me the paperwork had to go through various departments and it would take six days in each department. As of today the check still has not been received. Their explanation is that they have many requests at the end of the year. Every other house responded and delivered in days. Weeks later Merrill Lynch is still backed up. Any small investor is crazy to use Merrill Lynch. Horrible response times, no follow-up explanatoions and higher fees. A year ago I submitted similiar paperwork and almost two months later it was returned saying we had requested that too much withholding had been requested to be taken out. Too much withholding? Tell that to the IRS. Similiar requests were made to the other institutions and processed with no problem. No call, no personal service, just a letter that when I called thereafer the person told me the IRS does not accept that amount. I called the IRS and they told me they would gladly take 100% of the properly submitted amount. So add bad advice to the list of Merrill Lynch's responses. There service stinks. I have written a review like this before. I understand institutions have problems in units and with certain hired workers. But Merrill Lynch is so bad, so uncaring that I am finally writing my first ever criticism. I am fortunately in a position where I can influence people to get there money out. 3.5 million will be gone by the end of the month. Get your money out, small investor. If you do not have an account executive you can easily talk to people, and they will even more easily blame you for their horrible service.


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72 complaints
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4 World Financial Center, 250 Vesey Street, New York United States