Woodforest National Bank — tied up $3k of my money
Long story. Their mistake but were reluctant to do anything.
My unemployment goes into an account that I have a debit card for. My only access to the money is by using the debit card or paying extra to do an online transfer to a bank.
I wanted to pay off a 0% cc loan that was about to expire. I had a few grand in my checking account and I had about $4500 in my unemployment account. On April 23rd I went to the bank to get a $3000 cash advance to deposit into my checking account so I could pay the cc off.
When the teller swiped the card the machine malfunctioned (she didn't tell me that). She processed the transaction again and it was delcined. I thought maybe there is a limit, try $2000. It was declined again. I said try $1000. The $1000 transaction was approved.
When I got home I checked to see if there was a limit and found that there was in fact no withdrawal limit. But I also saw a pending pre-authorization on my account for $3000.
I called the company and asked why the pending transaction if it was declined. They said it was not declined, that the amount was approved when the request was made. I knew that in order to get the pending removed I would need the bank to send a letter telling them they were not going to finalize the transaction. I asked the guy if there was another alternative other than waiting 5 to 10 days, he said no.
Next day, April 24th, I went to the bank and explained to the teller that there was a pending transaction for the $3000 and they needed to send a letter to the bank. I provided a copy of my statement showing the pending transaction. I thought it would be a simple request because I knew the procedure. It happened to me once at the post office. They said I had to swipe my card again and there were actually 2 transactions for the same amount. I did let that one go for 5 days. They had no idea what to do so they were going to send it to someone else and let me know what they found out. I never received a call so I just waited. 5 days and it was still there. 10 days and it was still there.
I called the company and found out what really happened. They told me she had swiped the card twice and the first time got approved, the second was declined because the first was approved and there was not enough money for the second request. The 3rd attempt was declined because the first was approved. The 4th attempt was approved because there was still enough money in the account.
She also said any thing over $250 would remain for 30 days unless the bank sent a letter. And she said the matter could be resolved in a few hours if they would just fax a letter. I went to the bank and asked them what was being done. They said nothing was being done because when they forwarded the matter no one had ever heard of anything like that and that they could not send a letter because they did not have any record of the transaction. I said if you have no record then what will it hurt to send a letter to that affect and tell them it won't be processed. I got them to call someone and in the phone conversation that is when she said she swiped the card and the machine malfunctioned. But in all the people she talked to, she never told them what needed to be done. She just asked if they should do anything to get the funds released.
But they still said they had never had to send any correspondence like that. Their risk dept. didn't have any idea. I made a small scene in the bank at Walmart and they said someone would call me that afternoon. I went straight home and called the account company back and spoke with them again and they assured me there was nothing I could do, the bank had to do it. I called the banks main CS in Houston and talked to about 3 people and a CS supervisor told me that someone in risk was taking care of it and it would be done within the hour. The branch manager called and I explained to him that I had called CS and he said he would call and make sure I was told correctly.
Well, the next morning the transaction was still there. I was hot. I called the account company and they said they had received no letter. I called the banks CS and went through about 3 people and no one knew what the hell was going on. I finally got a CS supervisor that told me that she had spoke to someone in risk and that the letter had been faxed in that morning (18 hours later than they said they were going to) and that they had received a confirmation of the fax. I told them I wanted a copy of the letter faxed to the bank so I could pick it up. I never got to speak to anyone in risk at any point. I am the customer, shouldn't they deal with me if they are offering customer service? They can't even give you a direct call back number, you have to start everything from the automated process.
I called the company back and got to the head person on duty on the phone and she told me the fax number I was give was for the Texas office and that she was in Harrisburg, Pa. so she could not verify receipt of the fax. I told her I was going to get a copy of the letter and would she accept it if I faxed it in. She said yes. She was very accomodating and said that if she saw the money post to my account before the end of the day she would call me. I told her I would get the letter but would wait until morning before I got back to her.
I went to the bank about 4 hours later to pick up the letter and no one knew a thing. After about 15 miutes they finally came up with the letter from an email. I brought the letter home and waited. The next morning the money was back in my account showing a transaction reversal.
So after 12 days and only two extra blood pressure pills I got my money back. The people at the bank did not seem at all concerned that I would have to wait 30 days to get my money even though it was their machine that malfunctioned and caused the whole ordeal. Hell, I guess all their account holders have an extra 3 grand to throw away for a month.
The lady at the account company said it is a very common thing to happen and that she has had a few banks refuse to send a letter, and those banks did complete the transaction 90% of the time. But she has never known of a bank that has never had it happen and did not know what the procedure was to rectify the situation. I think the bank was just stalling with the whole thing.
They said they made a one time exception just for me.
I know this was just one incident with the bank; but the way it was (or should I say wasn't) handled and the several times they lied to me about what was being done and the total lack of communication is just not the way customer service should be provided. Especially for a financial institution.
I told the teller, I normally keep a few thou in there but since they messed up, all that money was now gone from the account and I will make damn sure that there was never any money in that account again. I don't think they really care.