Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bank of America? Not my America!

My Dad passed recently. It has been a sad time for those of us who knew him. I had his car shipped from his residence in Florida to Massachusetts to take care of some body work. I decided to keep it because it was a cute 2010 Scion with low mileage and I thought it would be a great around-the-town car. I visited the local Bank of America office to see what it takes to get the Title transferred. They advised me that I have 60 days to pay the vehicle off and said thank you very much.

As a followup, I received a letter stating in quotes “We would like to extend our condolences upon hearing that our valued customer passed away”. What does it mean that this sentence is in quotes? Does it mean they don’t really mean it? Does it limit their liability?

The letter continues “The Bank will allow you 60 days in which to obtain financing for the collateral with a new lender and pay the Loan balance in full (the “Forbearance Period”), so long as the Loan payments remain current during the Forebearance Period. If, however, the Loan payments become past due or the Forebearance Period expires, then this letter shall also serve as written notification that: (i) The Bank is declaring the Loan in default; (ii) The Bank is accelerating the Loan balance; and (iii) The Bank intends to repossess the collateral securing the Loan.”


If you look at their web site, you will see wonderful hyperbole like, “Bank of America is committed to helping homeowners understand all their financial options.” or “See how we’re supporting small businesses, helping customers in financial need and giving to local communities through our lending and investing programs.” Or the best, “Bank of America is lending, investing, and giving to help make our communities great places to live and do business.”

Is this how they show they care? Whatever happened to your friendly neighborhood bank of yesteryear? Since when are these tactics acceptable to the American people? Where is the outrage that these Banks (so large that we can not allow them to fail) have become dictatorial, anti-family, anti-community and anti-American? Is our only recourse to cease and desist?

Posted in America, Banks.

Travelocity; A Cautionary Note

If you have ever had the occasion to book a rather complicated itinerary, you might find that it is better to handle it over the phone rather than on-line. Travelocity travel services has operators standing by 24-7, albeit in India. Travelocity hawks their San Antonio call center, but users of Travelocity know better. Their first line of calls are fielded in India. You might find the experience a bit stressful, but the operators will spend hours if necessary scheduling your travel.

Here is the cautionary note. Make sure you read your itinerary confirmation thoroughly and completely before 11:59PM central time the day you make the reservations. If there is a problem and you find Travelocity made a mistake, that error becomes your error if you do not correct it by the end of that day. If this problem does arise, you may just find that it takes more than three hours and hundreds of dollars to get a resolution. You will be required to make more than 5 calls and your calls will be dropped by the call center employees. By the casual observer, it might be assumed that it is the call center employees first line of defense in complicated situations. When confused, just hang up. They don’t say, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, they just hang up.

Last checked, WNS, a company that outsources business processes, handles call center duties for Travelocity, a privately held division of Sabre Holdings Corporation. Working with WNS has purportedly reduced operational costs for Travelocity by 40% annually. But at what cost to the consumer. At what point will we demand better?

Posted in Customer Service, Transportation Discounts, travel, travelling.

Dell Financial Services

In a mishap that took nearly two months to resolve, I learned a little bit about dealing with Dell Financial Services. So here is a word to the wise, a cautionary tale, and at the same time, a plea for change.  You see my plight is not uncommon.  It is far too common.  It is unimportant what the problem was, let’s just say it was of my own doing.  I accidentally paid them too much money when making an online payment.  I recognize that was my error.  But the stakes were high and I needed to correct the problem.  It was too late for me to correct the problem on-line, so here is the saga.

I made the phone call.  Yes, of course I got sucked into the voicemail maze which our larger companies seem to think we appreciate.  Well we don’t.  When we press zero, it means we want to speak with a human being.  We don’t want to hear what our balance is, or the date of the payment or when the next payment is due. Pressing zero is a cry for help.  So few companies understand that.  So I finally persevered and spoke to a human being.  Oh if only I knew other languages.  Well I don’t.  I have learned some Spanish along the way. At least what 3 years of US Schools can teach you.  Hello, my name is…  I don’t speak Hindi nor Bengali, and I certainly haven’t had a chance to learn Filipino.  Well there are the two choices, I head to the Philippines first.  Lovely people who try their hardest to find a solution.  If they only understood how things work.  Well how can they.  The system is so convoluted within the DFS organization that it is nearly impossible.  So after 40 minutes, I ask for a supervisor.  Well actually, after this much time getting nowhere, I confess to raising my voice and adjusting my tone. I made no threats.  Like magic, the call is transferred to another service representative.  Oh good, English is a little better.  Well I tell my tale of woe yet again.  I am told that a request will be placed with the research department.  It will take up to 48 hours to get a response.

Fast forward 48 hours.  Yes, I have to call back.  Ah, but now I have a case number.  Everyone understands a case number.  And they do have a call center system that permits the entry of verbiage.  Now I am told that a check will be sent to me but it will take up to 10 days to get it.  OK.  I can understand.  It is a lot of money. Debits need to be issued.  Checks and balances need to be managed.  So I wait.

I see that a debit adjustment was issued to my DFS account.  OK.  They are moving in the right direction.  But I have no money yet.

Fast forward 12 days.  I call again.  I am told that some confirmation authorization needs to be obtained to send me a check.  I gave them that authorization.  I wait 5 days.  No check.  I call again.  Yes, back to the Philippines. The young woman and I are getting to know one another.  I am actually understanding her much better although I need to tell her to articulate her words every once in a while.  I am told that a check will be sent overnight.  Great.  I wait.  I call back in 2 days.  I am told no check has been sent.  As it turns out they are not going to send me a check.  Oh, my God.  Help me be patient.  No, no help is available.  I am getting visibly angry at this point.  I demand to speak with a supervisor under threat of legal action and involving the state attorney general.  No help.  No supervisor is available.  I demand to speak to someone in the United States.  I get a phone number and an extension.  Oh, too bad. No answer.

I call back the main number for DFS.  Oh goody. I have travelled to India where I learn that DFS has two and only two call centers, yes that’s right, the Philippines and India.  The lovely gal from New Delhi or Mumbai told me that there was nothing she could do but transfer me to the supervisor in the Philippines that was handling my issue.  So much for trying a new angle.  I start researching DFS through the Better Business Bureau and the standard Internet search engines.  Well, I learn a great deal about why I shouldn’t do business with Dell Financial Services. 

So back to the Philippines I go. Oh good, a new story.

Seems Dell issues an ACH transfer to Checkfree, I am not sure which, for the amount I am looking for.  Why?  To this day, I have no idea.  But they seemed to think that Checkfree was the service I used to make my payment originally to DFS.  Well if it was, I didn’t know that.  I signed on to Dell Financial Services at this URL,  Sure seemed like I was dealing with Dell.  Well, allright.  I speak with a lovely woman from Checkfree in Ohio.  Refreshingly excellent verbal skills.   They don’t know anything about my issue.  They need to send the issue to the research department in California.  It may take a couple of days to get a response.  Great.  I am not a happy camper.  In fact, I am pretty upset.   I do a little research on Checkfree.  Oh great, BBB Rated F.  I am feeling doomed.  The money has been reversed on my account and now sits with a company that has an F rating on BBB.  This can’t have a happy ending I am thinking.

Ok, so I go back to Dell and ask to speak to a supervisor because as far as I was concerned this was a Dell issue.  I was not given a supervisor but told that the issue would be resolved by Checkfree.  I am asked to please give it another 48 hours.  I do.  I go back to my contact at Checkfree and she can’t help me.  No response from research is available.  I ask for her supervisor.  I get a gentlemen from Ohio who also has mastered the English language.  He assures me that my issue has been tagged as urgent and is being handled as such. Please give it 24 hours.  So the day drifts by.  I get a call, yes, that is correct, I get a call from the lovely woman in Ohio. She tells me that the funds will be deposited into my account in the next 2 to 5 days.  Thank goodness for electronic fund transfers. 2 to five days.  OK, well they said it would happen.  What am I to do. 

Lo and behold.  51 days had passed.  The funds were miraculously back in my account safe and sound.  Later that day, I get a call from a charming woman who works for Dell Financial Services in Atlanta.  She just wanted to make sure everything was settled.  I was so elated to have my money back, I didn’t even swear at her before I hung up the phone.

So that is my tale.  Corporations, take note.  We (the proverbial 140 million members of the silent majority) don’t like being treated like this.  Change your ways.  We will eventually band together and pound you into the ground.  As soon as we can rescue our checkbooks from the near 30% finance charge you are extorting from us.

Posted in business climate, Credit Card, Technology.