Friday, January 27, 2012

Good riddance, Bank of America!

I became a Bank of America customer in 1979.  In 2012, I will be leaving in disgust.


Until last year, we never paid regular fees for any of our accounts or any regular transactions with Bank of America.  Things whirred along nicely, just as one would expect of their bank. 

Then, the bank started crapping on us.  “Hey, thanks for being loyal customers of 30+ years.  Here are a few new fees for you!”  It seemed that any time our money came or went, there was a fee associated with it.  Yeah, that $5 debit card fee felt like the last straw, but I was too busy then to go through the hassle (and it is such a hassle!) to change banks.

Then B of A revised their website and somehow in that process, they lost or Visa account.  Oh, we still had it, but it didn’t show up online.  Easy fix, right?  Nooooo – it took me SIX hours of waiting on the phone four different times over six weeks to get that resolved.


That experience should have kicked me into high gear toward dumping B of A, but yeah, regular life got in the way.  And by that I mean that I was still just too lazy to go through the major hassle of moving all our accounts, changing all our auto-pays and direct deposits, and finessing the timing to go through the whole painful process.

THEN, yesterday…

I get an e-mail alert from Bank of America that Aleks had overdrawn his savings account.  (Yes, I’m connected to the kids’ accounts while they’re still in school.)  Overdrawn his savings account?  The mandatory savings account that we had to open when we opened student checking accounts for the kids?  The savings account he never touches?  How could he be overdrawn?

I called the bank.  “Yes, ma’am.  Yes, there is now a $5 fee for those savings accounts.”  (Yes, the mandatory savings accounts tied to checking accounts…)

“HUH?  I was never told that!” I complained.

“It has been indicted at the end of your monthly statement since August,” I was told.

“I went paperless in August!”

“Well, ma’am, it’s on the paperless statement too.”  Guess it’s my bad for not scrolling to the end of my online statements and reading the fine print.

Eye roll.

So… funny thing – as of yesterday, I was “allowed” to close those associated savings accounts.  Which I did.

And then I got in the car and high-tailed it to our local BECA office to open a multitude of accounts. 


I was seen immediately – though the account manager told me that I was lucky; in November and December, hundreds of people who’d been screwed over by a variety of big banks waited patiently for hours to open BECU accounts.

Within an hour, I had opened checking, savings, Visa, a LOC loan, and a money market account with BECU.  After leaving the credit union, I received calls throughout the afternoon from the account manager keeping me apprised on the results of my credit check (suckas, Bank of America, you guys lost a good customer!), reminding me what items and actions were still needed, and just letting us know how things were progressing.

Yes, it will be a pain in the butt to make this change. I’ll be busy notifying all our merchants of the change and trying to time the process just right so that… well, so that we don’t incur any FEES from Bank of America.

Good riddance, Bank of America!  You could have kept these customers of 30+ years if you wanted to.  You obviously didn’t want to.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Slushy in Seattle

After a week of being cooped up in the house while it stormed and snowed and iced outside, I couldn’t stand it anymore and today I just HAD to get out.  Problem is, our neighborhood is still essentially snowed in… or rather, slushed in, with the local hilly roads being rutty with wet, melting snow, making it really hard to drive a normal 2-wheel drive.

So, while Tom took the 4-wheel-drive truck to do some of his errands, I took my own two legs to do mine and I headed out to walk – or, as it turned out, trudge -- to the local store, about a mile away. 

This is what I encountered:


Where is all that melting snow gonna go?  The ground is completely saturated already!

Unfortunately, I no longer have any snow pants or boots because they were cut off me in the emergency room three years ago


So I trudged to the store and back in these boots from Kristin (remember THAT great story?!). 


Dumb move!  By the time I got home with a backpack full of groceries, not only were the boots completely soaked, but my socks and feet were drenched as well.

Tom arrived home from his errands just as I arrived home, took one look at my boots and pants (which were soaking wet up to my knees) and insisted on taking me to REI to get “real winter boots.”  I told him that boots on clearance at Target are fine with me, but noooooo….

So bring on the next snowstorm, dudes.  My feet will be dry and warm!  (And hey -- bring on some summer hiking in the Cascades and Olympics, too!  I am ready now!)


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quinn’s first snow day

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Shasta loved it too!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Hunkerin’ Down!

We’ve had such a mild winter in the Pacific Northwest… until this week!  It snowed about 2”  in Woodinville three days ago -- which means that (California driver that I am) I haven’t left the house in as many days.

Thanks goodness for Tom who stopped at the grocery store to stock up and who, as I type this, is braving the icy roads to bring Aleks back to UW so he can hunker himself down before THIS hits in the next 24 hours: 


As long as there’s no wind to accompany this storm (because wind knocks down trees and knocks out power), I say bring it ON!

But only because I’m lucky enough to work at home in my jams and slippers…

To my Pacific Northwest family and friends, please don’t go out unless you need to.  Hunker down, sip hot chocolate, and be safe!

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Friday, January 06, 2012

And THIS, homies, is why I love Seattle!

It’s rare that I use an entire post to link to someone else’s blog post, but this one’s totally worth it.

“All of our pizzas are delivered by seaplane.”

Uh-huh. Really!

Who IS this guy?  I might love him.

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

If it was never my money to begin with, did it really slip from my grasp?

We’ve been paying college tuition for almost TEN solid years now – sometimes for as many as three kids at once.  The college accounts dried up long ago and now it’s a matter of fretting big time when Aleks’ and Kat’s tuition statements come in, just hoping that we can squeak by every three months with enough saved to pay that quarter’s tuition and room and board. 

I woke up yesterday in a bit of a panic, knowing that UW tuition for winter quarter (Aleks’ and Kat’s next-to-last quarter – and our next-to-last EVER college tuition payment!) is due in a few short weeks and wondering how tight the situation really was.

I sleepily walked across the hall from our bedroom to my office, fired up the computer, and checked the college account balance.  I was hoping that we had at least the coupla thousand necessary for January tuition, knowing that I’d already paid Aleks’ fraternity bill and Kat’s January rent had been paid.

Staring back at me was a number that made NO sense whatsoever in my pre-coffeed state: the account had well over $9,000 in it!  I refreshed my browser (my default first troubleshooting action), then exited and re-entered the bank’s site.

Yup.  Well over nine grand!

This made no sense whatsoever.  We certainly didn’t put those extra thousands of dollars into the account.  So where did all that money come from?  I had no idea.

For more than a split second, I pondered how nice it would be to OWN that money, to pay Aleks’ and Kat’s last two quarters of college expenses stress-free, to breathe.  To…

Oh, damn!  I can’t keep the money!  It’s not ours to keep.

I started digging around my online banking account and found this:


It was a deposit slip for $8,636.13 with our college account number handwritten clearly on the bottom.  It also contained the name and  phone number of the person who deposited it – presumably into her own account.

I had no choice but to dial the number on the slip.  I mean, there it was, staring me in the face!  And there was a name to go with it! 


Roslyn who was probably wondering where in the world her big deposit was.

Of course I wanted to do the right thing, and of course I wanted the good feeling that goes along with doing the right thing.  There was never any doubt that I’d remedy all this.  And there was never any doubt that if I didn’t the bank eventually would.

But damn -- eight thousand dollars sure would have been nice!

I called Roslyn and explained to her what had happened.  She sounded stunned.  As it turns out, she had made the deposit (in the bank branch, it turned out, where the teller mistakenly wrote my account number on the slip instead of hers, omitting just one digit) and she hadn’t given it another thought after she left the bank, confident that the money was in her account.  As we talked, she checked her account online and realized that the funds hadn’t made it to her account after all!

I assured her that I’d take care of it with the bank, then spent the next (grrrr!) 85 minutes on the phone and on hold with Bank of America.  Had I not already made a personal connection with Roslyn, I just might have hung up, furious that the bank was making it so hard to simply do the right thing!

Roslyn now has her money and our college bank account is back to “sleepless” levels.  But I feel better.  And I KNOW Roslyn feels better!

I think I’ll go buy a lottery ticket.

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