By consumeristcarey February 24, 2008
Silly Bill. He thought Bank of America would let him spend $5,800 on a home theater system just because he had over $10,000 in the bank. He tried to charge the system to his Bank of America Visa Platinum Check Card but was declined. Confused, Bill called Bank of America customer support for an explanation and had the sort of conversation that makes you want to drive a fork through your ear.
So tonight I went to my local Best Buy, planning on surprising the wife with a new bigscreen TV.
We get there and, believe it or not, the Best Buy people are helpful, friendly, informative and DON’T try to push Monster cables on me. (I know – I nearly fainted too).
Having done my homework, I picked out a receiver, speaker system, wall mount, some blue ray movies. and a 58″ plasma TV. Total cost. $5870.69
So I head to the register to pay for my newly acquired goodies and my card – despite having a few grand more than the total in my “available funds” is declined.
Puzzled – I call Bank of America. wait on hold about ten minutes, go through countless adverts for bank services, double authorizations etc and FINALLY I get to a human. Of course in spite of all of this the woman wants my information all over again even though I just typed it in. She wont even help me til I provide it and so I do.
I explain that I am in the store, at the register, and that I know I have available funds.
She puts me on hold about 5 minutes. then comes back and says “Im sorry – that’s over your daily limit. There’s nothing I can do. Was there anything else I can help you with?”
Remembering to keep a cool head, I ask about a supervisor giving me an override on the limit. She says “let me transfer you to the ATM department.” And before I can explain that this isn’t an ATM problem, she disconnects me.
Frustrated – I dial again, more menus, get a human, get transferred, get another human, get transferred, (every time re-verifying my ID)finally I get to the FOURTH person who apologizes 10 times and says “don’t worry sir – I can help you!”
I think I’m getting somewhere but then a supervisor comes on and explains to me that “Everyone in the United States that uses Bank of America has a daily spending limit of 5000.00 no matter what.”
Stunned, I ask for an exception and in a parent-giving-me-a-cookie tone he says “well, I suppose we can up that to 6000.00 just this once.”
At this point I am over an hour on the phone but we try the transaction again. Declined.
More hold time. He comes back and says that he is sorry but 6000. is the limit and buying gasoline and dinner earlier in the day is going to put me at more than 6 grand for the day and so I can come back
tomorrow and buy the TV or I can go to my branch and get a money order.
Fuming, and doing my best to remain calm, the conversation goes like this:
“Let me get this straight – I have an “available” balance of nearly 10 grand in my account?”
“And its not pending or a deposit waiting to clear, that’s my money, confirmed and in your bank?”
“And you have kept me on the phone for over an hour, asked me multiple times to verify my identity and are satisfied that I am who I say I am?”
“And you are going to deny me access to MY money. ”
“No sir – we are not denying you your money, your’re just over your daily limit.”
“My daily limit? This isn’t a credit card. It’s a PLATINUM Visa checkcard. I understand that you have to put limits in for my protection but I need to make this purchase”
“Im sorry theres nothing I can do”
At this point, after nearly an hour an twenty minutes on the phone, I lose my cool. I am embarrassed, have essentially shut down a register lane on a Friday night at Best Buy and am obviously the talk of the store both from employees and customers.
I ask to speak to a supervisor and am told that I am speaking to one. I ask to speak to HIS supervisor and am told that’s not possible.
Out of desperation I ask again and he says “wait just a moment”
More hold. Ten more minutes. I am fuming. He comes back and excitedly tells me “try it now.”
So for the umpteenth time I swipe my card. This time it comes up “authorization code needed”
I relay this to the BoA guy and he says “well, we are making progress”
A few more minutes of hold time later and he comes back with the code and makes my purchase go through.
I have NEVER experienced such shoddy customer service ever. Im sure Im preaching to the choir when I say this, but Monday morning I am cancelling my BoA account, and fellow consumerists – Stay the heck away from Bank of America!
As a side note, after the transaction was completed I said to the supervisor, “So, what if I was say, Donald Trump and wanted to spend 30 grand on something?”
His response, ” Well. for Mr Trump we would have made an accommodation ahead of time.”
I said “And if I’d decided tonight to buy the $14,999.99 71″ plasma TV in here this evening?”
“You wouldn’t not have been allowed to do that.”
At that point I hung up.
Bank of America, though still thoroughly decrepit and evil, may have been sending a helpful signal. Large purchases like home theater systems should be charged to a credit card, ideally one that offers rewards and extended warranty protection. As Bank of America would say, it’s for your own good.