Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Putting My Mouth Where My Money Is...

The following is a letter sent by me to Chase customer service on Sunday, December 12, 2010...

Dear Chase Bank...
This is not an inquiry so much as an open letter to you and your customer service department. I was a loyal customer of Washington Mutual for 5 years before your company took over. Despite all the troubles that bank may have had on a larger scale, I never had one single complaint or issue or concern with them. Then your company came along...

In the 1 1/2-2 years that I've dealt with Chase, I have been unhappy with the service on numerous occasions. Last year I discovered you were taking $20/month out of my savings account because I did not meet the minimum balance requirement. To give you some background, my main savings account is with one of your competitors who offers a better interest rate and service- I was only keeping a small amount of money in my Chase savings as a formality. I unfortunately did not realize that Chase was taking the monthly fee from me until you had already taken close to $100 of my hard-earned money from me. When I confronted a Customer Service Rep and was told for the first time about your minimum balance fee, I demanded to know why I was not made aware of this policy when you took over Washington Mutual. The representative dismissively informed me that a letter had been my former address. At that point, I had not been living at that address in over a year and Chase was regularly sending me correspondence to my new address. Conveniently, the notice of a Minimum Balance Fee was sent to an address that had not been used by either myself or your company in a long while. When asked if I could have my money back, I was coldly rebuffed and told "that's not our policy."

Obviously, your institution's policy is to take as much money away from your customers as possible.

Yesterday I received notice that Chase is now going to begin charging me a Monthly Service Fee for my Checking Account, the only account I still hold with Chase. This service can be avoided if I do A or B or C or D. If I don't do those things (one of those options requires paying you money to not take my money), you will take $10 a month of MY MONEY from me.

So, basically you're telling me I have to pay you to hold my money for me?

In this economy, could you be anymore short-sighted and just plain stupid???

After the previous experience I had with your bank, do you honestly believe I will continue to do business with your bank if there's a chance you will take even more of MY MONEY from me?

Absolutely not.

If you do not respond to me in writing with your intent to COMPLETELY WAIVE the Monthly Service Fee from my account, I will pull every cent of my money from your bank with a big smile on my face. I will follow the advice of a friend of mine and begin working with one of your main competitors here in Los Angeles. Additionally, I will post this letter I am currently writing you on every public forum that I can so that the world will know that your banking practices are utterly ridiculous.

I urge to reconsider saving yourself the business and saving me the trouble of having to switch banks by foregoing your absurd proposal to charge for being part of your customer base.

I suspect you will not, but it was worth a shot.

As I expected, I received a stock apology from some mindless CS rep "apologizing" for my experiences with Chase and then trying to upsell my on "all the positive aspects of being a Chase customer!"

So thank you, Chase Bank, for giving me the gift of dumping your money-grubbing ass for Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Fall Of Mickey Q

We let go of the rope.

Not because we were weaker. Or dumber. Or because we cared less about making an impression.

It was because we were awesome.

The Senior Class of 2000 at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, LA had never- to my recollection- won a single Annual Tug-Of-War in the 5 years since the class had been formed in 8th grade. Up to '99 we'd lost to upperclassmen. But in our Junior Year we did something unthinkable...we lost to the sophomore class. It was a joke.

And because we were a joke, we were determined to keep it that way. So, when the whistle blew during lunch period on that hot Spring day in 2000, instead of heaving and ho-ing with all our collective Senior Class might...we let the Junior Class- our slayers from the previous year- apply the pressure to the rope.

And we let go.

I can tell you...there is nothing more satisfying than seeing an entire class of loudmouthed, whiny little pricks fall on their asses at the same time, completely bewildered and dumbfounded. And in pain. It was the most glorious end to a winless run of any sport that has ever existed. But what happened next will remain in my mind as one of the most inspired strokes of ballsy genius that I will ever experience in this short life...

Our celebration turned into frenzy. Having technically lost, the victory was ours. We ran around the school yard slapping lunches out of people's hands, cheering, turning our rings around and slapping little underclassmen over the heads (as we had had done to us in our day), and ripping our military khaki shirts.

Then, the riot became focused. Someone- I'm not sure who but could probably quickly put together a list of about 5 very likely suspects even 10 years later- screamed out "Mickey Q's Office!!!"

"Mickey Q" was our nickname for Mr. Mick Quinlan, the disciplinarian of Jesuit High School. The Muscle. The Man. Now that I think it over, it must have been a very unpleasant job to do- to be the embodiment of all the rules and detentions and Penance Halls and suspensions that our Catholic high school doled out to miscreants. Consequently, Mickey Q became the target for a hell of a lot of crap during our tenure.

Perhaps it was lucky for us. We got to his office...all 50 or so of us...and Mickey Q was nowhere to be found. Only Ms McCabe (Juanita, as we all affectionately called her outside her office) was there, processing the day's paper work with her usual diligence. She looked at the oncoming mob and knew. Almost as if she'd been expecting this day in all her years working at an all-boys Catholic high school. Yes, it must have been inevitable.

We stormed the office. She put up no fight. She only stood behind her desk and held up her hands as if to say "Have at it, boys. I ain't gonna stop you." We threw his books, his papers, his pens/pencils and his ridiculously abundant collection of neck ties all over the place. We yelled and screamed and laughed and somebody started rapping...I can't remember what- only that it seemed absurdly out of place which made it funnier.

But why stop there?

Back out in the yard, there were 4 Coke Machines. For some reason, our rebellion took us to the Coke machines where the rest of the class re-joined us. It seems someone thought that by shaking those machines enough, we'd somehow receive lots of free Cokes. It didn't work.

At about this time, Mr Barry Neuberger- our soft-spoken and respectable principal- who I'm sure had only moments before become only partially aware of the riot our class was producing, came scrambling up to me. a mob of 100-200 Seniors!

"You better get this under control, Frizzell!"

Now, apparently Mr Neuberger over-estimated my powers. I assume that because I occupied the office of Senior Class President, he looked at me as a leader. And perhaps I was. But, honestly Barry (I didn't dare call him by his first name- but in my insolent state, boy did i want to!), what do you expect me to do??! Jump atop the Coke machines, flash my school name tag which also happened to have my Title and quell the Great Revolution of 2000 with a wave of my hand? Do you expect me to part the Red Sea of angry testosterone-ridden Seniors? I'm sorry, but I'm not a one-man SS...

I did not say any of that.
Instead, I laughed. His eyes exploded. The riot continued.

The underclassmen watched with admiration. The Junior Class, our foes, were completely unable to savor any ounce of victory because, on that day, no Tug Of War victory in the world could have matched the rampant Cool currently being displayed by the Class of 2000.

Because the uproar had been perpetrated by a large majority of the class, no one could be or was singled out. I had been worried for a few days that I would be made an example out of, but I was too well-liked by the student body and the faculty for that to have had the desired effect. We did not, however, receive a Senior Gift of any kind. Those were usually lame anyway. And at the end of the year, much to our chagrin, the Senior Day Crawfish Boil was somehow reduced to the Senior Day Shrimp Boil. May not sound like a huge difference to most of you, but if you've ever lived in New Orleans you know it's just not the same.

It all worked out, though...because we conquered. The reigning Senior Class of one of the most respected private schools in the country with a feared discipline program and a reputation for turning students into smart, proud, respectful men who would never dare go against the grain had turned the school on its ear for a day.

And not one person even got detention.

I loved my school. I respected- and still do respect- my school.
But that event will always be one of devilish pride for me.

Sometimes, rebellion is a good thing.