Friday, March 10, 2006

Ridiculous Shenanigans

I just finished a half hour phone call with Washington Mutual Bank. I had a checking account with them when I lived in California. I didn't close the account before I left California because I was driving cross country during my move and wanted to be able to use the ATM at Wall Drug, know-what-I'm-sayin? When I moved back to the Midwest four years ago, I called to close my account. I was told that I could not close the account unless I came into a branch in person. Well, the reason I was closing the account was because there were no Washington Mutual branches in my town. So, I opened a new checking account, withdrew all but $1.00 from the Washington Mutual account, put my meager savings into a the new account and promptly forgot about the old one. I lived with my parents for a little while after the move, and I found out a few weeks ago that Washington Mutual has been mailing paper statements regarding my $1.00 balance to my parents' house for four years! I left California about 45 months ago. With monthly statements at 37 cents each, that is $16.65 the bank has spent to let me know I have one dollar in Berkeley. My parents politely suggested I call and have the statements stopped. Since I don't have an ATM card or checkbook for that account anymore, I called their 800# and suggested we just call it even. If anything, I owe them money. I said, "Take it! consider it a donation to your financial institution." They said the only way to stop the paper statements was to sign up for online banking. Why would I want online banking with a bank I don't bank with anymore? Couldn't they just press a button? I was put on hold. A supervisor returned to say that the other way to stop the mail would be to write a letter to an address in Los Angeles requesting that they send me my $1 and close the account. "Seriously? You want me to spend 39 cents to get one dollar, a net profit of 61 cents?" There had to be another way. Finally, the supervisor clicked a button that would stop the paper statements, but I was told federal regulations prevent them from closing my account. So my one dollar will stay in Berkeley.

UPDATE (one year later): Despite assurances that the paper statements would stop, my parents have informed me that they've continued to receive them. How long with WashMu continue to waste postage on an account they won't let me close?

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