Hello all of you wonderful people! Happy Tuesday, for the week is upon us. As such, I’d like to spin a tale for you, but before I go any further, I want you to know that this is not a warm, feel-good, fuzzy story to go with this beautiful day. It is a dark tale, one of horror, anger, and betrayal. Well….it isn’t that dark. I made a mistake which led to a series of unfortunate events. However, from the ashes, many lessons learned arose. Keep reading…if you dare!
It was a typical day on July 28th, 2016. I was sitting on my lunch break at work going over financials, and realized I still hadn’t submitted a credit card payment for my U.S. Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature card. I have to take care of this now, I thought. I didn’t want to forget. With my Sam’s Club credit card, I rarely ever used the Cash Plus card since I only got a marginal benefit from the 2% and 3% cash back categories. Logging onto my account page, I proceeded to pay the bill with my Chase account, only…I didn’t pay with my Chase account…
About a month prior to marriage – and deciding to jump in with both feet – That Learning Gal and I decided to turn my Chase account into our joint account. We began the tedious process of combing her Chase accounts into mine. However, there was one little issue, I had accounts with PNC. Tied to this account were many automatic withdrawals. So, closing the account at the time wasn’t an option. However, I transferred the majority of the money out of the account, and left enough for a few months of automatic withdrawal, just in case.
Back To the Present
I make the payment for the credit card and think everything is hunky dory. Then, two days later, as I am performing a routine check of my financial accounts, I see it. A large charge to my PNC account with a significant overdraw. How is this possible, I think? Then the light bulb in my head clicks on; I paid with the wrong account. My stomach sinks, and I begin the arduous process of trying to ensure everything will be okay.
First, I call PNC to ensure everything is okay on their end, and see what I will have to do on my end to right this unfortunate mistake. I go through a few automated menus and a “consultant” picks up within 30 seconds. He informs me that I don’t have to do anything. The money will be credited back to my account because PNC is not going to pay the sum. Then he utters the word “but,” and then my heart drops. Here it comes, I think, the fees, the whammy. He informs me I will have to pay a “returned item fee” of $36.00. Knowing I have nothing to lose, I go for the hail mary shot. I ask, “Can I get the fee refunded? I’ve never asked for any such return before,” and to my pleasant surprise, the consultant says that I am eligible, and he can refund it to me! I jump for joy.
Everything seems to be going my way. I call U.S. Bank for the same reasons; I want to make sure I take care of anything that may need dealt with. I move through their automated menus and proceed to request a representative, and am told there is an “unusually high” call volume and that my call will be answered in the order it came in. Then the automated woman tells me the estimated wait time is…15 minutes. Okay, that’s not terrible. I wait…and wait…and wait. Finally, over half an hour later, a woman answers. Instead of asking antagonistically why I had to wait for such a long time, I tell her of the unfortunate situation and ask what I need to do, if anything. She says the payment will be refunded back to the card. Okay, great! She asks if I’d like to make another payment since the last one won’t count, I say yes, and to use my Chase account this time. She makes the payment, I hang up and go on my marry way.
Just kidding! The frigging situation repeats itself again…The representative charged the payment to the same account…again. Only this time? PNC doesn’t refund the overdraft fee…go me.
Forward to August 5th. I go to check my financials again. The unassuming me thinks everything is great. It’s Friday, I am going to have a good weekend with the wife’s family. We’re going to a theme park! Then I get to the U.S. Bank account. Lo and behold! I have two charges, “returned payment fee(s)”, each for $25. Now I’m livid. I call the U.S. Bank back again (with 45 minute wait time of course). Then I get the rep. Again, I calmly inform her of the situation despite blood boiling beneath my serene exterior. I ask if those unfortunate fees can be refunded, await the worst, but without a second thought, she says she can refund the fees! Hallelujah! Another victory. I pump my hand into the air!
The Aftermath and Lessons Learned
Although things still aren’t 100% back to normal (I am still awaiting the second credit payment to be pushed back, and then I will have to make the payment again, this time myself from the correct account), I’m out of the woods as far as annoying troubles go. After the dust settled from the craziness, here is what had happened. I finally said screw it. I closed my PNC account after notifying the companies which were pulling auto payments from it. I am currently awaiting the check for the remainder of the money in the account. I removed said account from all places where it would be possible to pay with it. Finally, I had all of the fees returned to me with the exception one overdraft fee (don’t poke fun about that, the wound is still raw). All of this was unfortunate circumstance, but like all things, as long as something was learned from the mistakes, that is what is important.
Here are the lessons you should take from this story:
- Always double check which account or card you are using to pay for something, it could mean the difference between being overdrawn or being in the safe zone.
- If you have a good financial history free of blemishes and craters, you are likely to have a better experience when an issue does arise.
- You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, i.e. you are more likely to get what you want/need if you are polite and courteous. I have no doubt this is and number 1 are the significant reasons I was able to get most of the fees – which I was charged – returned.
- Doing the hard thing, which in this case was calling, going through multiple automated menus, and waiting for significant periods of time, can definitely be worth the trouble. Financial institutions want to keep your business, especially if you are a good, responsible financial catch. I have no doubts in my mind that a significant portion of people wouldn’t even attempt to get those charges returned to them.
I hope this little tale of woe helps you as much as it has helped me!
-That Learning Guy
P.S. I am still deciding whether or not to cancel my U.S. Bank card. Although the long wait times can be horrifically frustrating with this company, when I actually get in contact with customer service, they have been extremely helpful. Credit cards – ever the seesaw, am I right?