What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Neighbors. Tuesday night, one of the strong storms passing through the area cleaved several large branches off a tree in the neighbor’s yard. Two of those large limbs landed squarely in my yard, so after work I got out the saw, cut them up and piled them neatly for burning once they’ve hand a few weeks to dry out. The third of the limbs to come down fell in the neighbor’s yard, but landed in such a way that it snapped one of my fence posts and buckled several rails. Two days later, I’m still looking at that downed limb lying across a crumpled fence from my kitchen window. The neighbors have been home. I’ve seen the kids playing in the yard and I’ve seen their vehicles come and go, but neither of them has broached the subject of the limb, or the fence. We’re now engaged in a great game of seeing how long it takes the neighbor takes to do some basic yard work and if they’ve got the personal integrity to at least offer to take care of the repairs. Given my observation over the last four years, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for either of those things to happen. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d have addressed the issue already… and therein clearly lies the problem of holding others to the standards to which I hold myself.

2. Standing corrected. I hereby retract that mean things I said about my credit union yesterday. I discovered today that the fault was all mine for making a boneheaded mistake writing out the damned check. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.

3. Attempted guilting. Since the office is now officially down to four, there’s apparently going to be a self-appointed chief of attempting to make everyone feel guilty about taking time off, “because then everyone else is sooooooo busy.” Maybe if I were a better person, I would feel guilty. Then I remember that I didn’t create the staff shortage and that I’ve earned every hour of leave I’ve banked over the last eleven years, so I’m going to go ahead and schedule it when I need it rather than when it’s convenient for someone else. I’ve got problems enough of my own without giving in to attempted guilting. Nice try, though.

Discredit Union…

I got to experience the joy of having my credit card and identity stolen a few years ago, so when I go on the road now, I pay my expenses out of a secondary account that’s not linked to the one that pays the bills, keeps my savings, or handles any of the other financial transactions you need to conduct in modern society. I like having that firewall between me and whoever might be interested in gathering up ill gotten gains. I didn’t expect that my own credit union was going to be the one interested in gaining from my loss.

Using the fancy mobile deposit app provided by my credit union, I stood in my kitchen and deposited a check that was to cover my traveling expenses last week. The app said the deposit was successful. I saw the credit “pending” and went on about my business assuming that the deposit was actually going to take place. You see, that’s where I made my first mistake, because this morning I logged in to my account to see debits bouncing off of it like a cascade of rubber balls – each one generating it’s own $10 overdraft fee.

A stop at their local branch office and what I know so far is that without the physical paper check, I’m pretty much out of luck. It doesn’t matter of they have a record of the initial transaction. It doesn’t matter that the error was clearly on the part of their optical reader. It doesn’t matter that the CSR I spoke to could plainly see in the app that everything I was saying was both true and factual. Unless I can produce the physical check, I should feel free to go ahead and bend over.

I’ll be the first to accept partial blame in this case. I should have verified that the transaction was completed and the deposit actually made into my account. At the same time, I had hoped the local credit union would be willing to work with an account holder who has never been anything but in good standing to at a minimum roll back the service charges that would never have accrued if their fancy new app actually worked as advertised. I’d almost expect that treatment from one of the too-big-to-fail banks, but the fact is I found them easier to work with on most things.

I’ll be calling the home office tomorrow. If they can’t resolve this in at least a partially satisfactory way, I’ll probably just go ahead and end my experiment with community banking $100 poorer and far more suspect of “new and improved” capabilities.

Bank of (Parts of) America…

I got a real paper letter in the mail this evening telling me that my local branch of Bank of America is closing. Decreasing foot traffic, more people doing banking online or by phone, blah, blah, blah. The only reason I mention this is because I’ve kept an account with Bank of America for the last 14 years. I originated three mortgages with them. And have mostly been satisfied with dealing with them overall. I always liked that no matter where I ended up in the country there was always a Bank of America branch. They’ve taken a lot of flack as one of those “too big to fail” operations, but my list of complaints has been pretty minimal until recently.

About a year ago all of the BoA ATMs disappeared from Cecil County, which was marginally inconvenient, but not onerous since there was a branch a few thousand yards from the office. With that now closing up shop and the next closest being on the opposite side of town from my normal travel route, that pretty much ends all but one part of my business relationship with BoA. There are too many banks and credit unions out there to be bothered with one that doesn’t even compete to be convenient.

I got a good enough rate on my last refinance that I’m not throwing them over the side completely, but I’ll only be funneling enough cash through them to pay the note on time. Reserve funds, and everything else will have to transfer over to another institution. The local credit union may not actually appreciate my nickel and dime banking, but they somehow manage to give me that illusion anyway. So when it comes time to refinance again, someone else will get that business too.

They may be too big to fail. I may be too small to miss. But they’d be well served to know that even out here in the sticks, we still have options. I’ll be exercising mine as soon as practical.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Mobile check deposit. I learned a fun fact about my credit union’s new mobile check deposit process this morning. That little nugget is if you deposit a check by phone and the transaction doesn’t complete, there’s nothing in place outside of their website letting you know that something has gone amiss. No email, no text, just an envelope that shows up on their website when you get around to logging in. That would have been nice to know before going to the ATM this afternoon and finding the account dropped to a zero balance. I’m sure part of the issue is my insistence on using different financial institutions for different services and therefore using mobile check deposits to avoid transfer fees to keep money in motion, but still, I don’t think an email letting a guy know something went sideways or at least that there is a new message waiting on their website is too much to ask.

2. Suing POTUS. This is just one of of the many reasons I left the Republican Party (or maybe it’s really an example of how the party left me). The House of Representatives thinks they’re being cute by trying to drag the courts into the ongoing drama between the legislative and executive branches. The reality is a political solution already exists to remedy the Representative’s grievances. Of course they realize exercising that option creates nothing but problems for them. So basically what you have is just another example of my former party lacking the courage of their misguided convictions. I may disagree with any number of decisions made from the federal bench, but those judges tend not to be complete idiots, so I’ll be amazed if they ever find one to let this kind of asshattery move forward. Then again, I’m not entirely sure anything coming out of Washington can surprise me anymore, so don’t take any of that as a prediction.

3. Ebola. Honest to God, I can’t believe this is even a discussion we’re having in the 21st century. It’s even worse that there are reports circulating about a “special plane” owned by the Centers for Disease Control that could isolate and import ebola victims into the United States for treatment. I’m all for taking care of American citizens who find themselves afflicted in Africa. Import a whole damned hospital wing and treat them on site, but loading them into a jet and bringing them and their virus here just sounds like a ridiculously stupid idea. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks willingly importing a deadly virus into the country is a monumentally bad thing to do, right?

Two weeks ago while I was sitting on the beach, somewhere between my credit union and Visa the auto pay that pulls my credit card payment every month got switched to the off position. This is a fact of which I was unaware until I got this month’s statement and the bill was about 2.5x what I was mentally prepared to see. After ten minutes of chasing down what happened and another 20 minutes on the line with the credit card company, I think we’ve gotten things sorted out, reversed the late charge, and paid the overdue balance.

I haven’t had something like that show up on an account since I was in broke ass college student shoveling cash out the door faster than it came in. Still, I want the record to show that I’m not blaming the credit union or the card company for this one. Sure, auto-pay is theoretically a convenience that shouldn’t just turn itself off, but my name is the one on the bill and that makes me responsible for seeing that it gets paid on time. I didn’t do that last month and wouldn’t have argued too strongly of they insisted on letting me take my lumps.

Fortunately, they were readily willing to work with me and cut me a break. I appreciate that. I guess having an account in good standing for the better part of 20 years is good for something after all.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Too quiet. I’m generally a guy who appreciates his peace and quiet. Except when that quiet comes in the form of one of the meeting rooms I occasionally get stuck in. It’s not technically an anechoic chamber, but it’s awfully close. The small battery powered clock on the wall ticks with the sound of thunder and you can definitely hear the sound of the blood pumping through your ears when you’re the only one in there. As much as I appreciate a nice quiet workplace, apparently being surrounded by sound deadening material is my bridge too far. Surprisingly, even for me, there is such a thing as too quiet. Who knew?

2. Every Saturday. I get groceries every Saturday morning. It’s as ingrained into The Routine as brewing a pot of coffee first thing in the morning. Apparently a lot of other people also do their shopping on Saturday mornings too… which is why I don’t understand why every Saturday feels like I’m surrounded by people who are experiencing the grocery store for the first time. I don’t get the people walking around in awe of the abundance before them or the ones who don’t seem to have any earthly idea why they’re there or what they’re supposed to load into their cart to take home. Can we at least try to have a list, a plan, and not spend half the damned day wandering around as if the pasta aisle was the latest Magic Kingdom attraction?

3. Bank of America. Bank of America gets featured here a lot, but I actually tried hard to like them. Their online banking system is second to none and they had branches and ATMs just about everywhere I’d ever want to be. Their website is still top notch in my opinion, but over the last two months, I’ve watched their local ATMs practically drop off the face of the earth. I went from having four of them spread out along my daily commute path to having none. There’s still a branch office open locally, but not in a location that’s convenient to any of my normal travels… and it’s safe to assume I won’t be making any special trips just for the privilege of being a Bank of America customer. Sure, I’ll keep an account open with them in case I ever needed it, but I’m pointing my direct deposit and bill pay to one of the local credit unions. I really did like their big bank feel, but not enough to get stuck paying $5 in fees every time I wanted a few twenty dollar bills. There are just too many other, cheaper options to stick around for that kind of asshattery.