Gotta Work For Those Dollars

, , , , , | Working | August 28, 2019

Six months after my grandfather dies we receive a letter from a bank he had a credit card with. This is strange in more than one way, being that the estate lawyer has already closed down all the accounts my grandfather had and that the letter was not sent to the estate lawyer or to us but rather to my grandfather’s old address. We only receive it by chance, seeing as we redirected all his mail to our address for a full year after the fact.

We take the letter to the estate lawyer, and when he opens it we find out that my grandfather had overpaid this particular credit card by an excess of a thousand dollars — something that the bank did not mention when the account was being closed down. Instead of transferring the existing balance to the estate, they instead put it on a prepaid credit card in my dead grandfather’s name, saying in the letter that he can use it anytime at his convenience now that his account has been closed, despite the fact that they had to receive a copy of his death certificate in order to close down the account.

This is where the real craziness begins. The bank refuses to transfer the money off of the prepaid credit card. At first, they even refuse to accept any contact from the estate lawyer, saying they have no idea who he is and that they can’t prove he isn’t trying to scam them. They will only speak to my mother, who works full time and therefore has to take time off work to contact them during business hours. Finally, after much fighting, my mother telling them multiple times that she gives them permission to speak to the estate lawyer, and sending another copy of not only the death certificate but also the lawyer’s credentials, they agree to speak to our lawyer.

A few days go past and the bank calls our lawyer, telling him that they need my mother to come into our local branch to discuss this situation with one of their representatives. My mother has to leave work early to do this and when she gets there, armed with the specific representative’s name, she is told that this is something that cannot be done in branch but rather has to be done over the phone, with the billing department. My mother calls the billing department then and there and is told by them that no, this has to be done in branch. The people at the bank location refuse to call into billing to sort this out and the billing department refuses to call the branch, both of them stating it isn’t their responsibility. By this time, the bank location has closed for the day and my mother is ushered out the door. She leaves extremely frustrated.

For the next few weeks, the estate lawyer calls and emails the bank’s billing department multiple times a day. His emails are ignored and his calls are mostly hung up on. Finally, he manages to be escalated to a manager who sends my mother back to the same specific person at the local branch but with a promise that he will call this person first and tell them exactly what needs to be done. My mother leaves work early again and gets to the bank only to be told that person has already left for the day and that she will have to come back tomorrow. In a fit of rage, my mother yells at the person at the bank that she will be contacting a specific national news organization that runs a segment about regular people being scammed by big corporations. She then calls the bank’s billing department, gives her name, and explains the situation, and tells them the same thing she told the person at the bank branch.

An hour later — and nearly a month since this whole mess began — our lawyer is called by the bank and is told that the money is being sent by certified check and should be there the next day. The situation leaves me to wonder how often this bank has done this before and how much money they’ve made off of this because other people probably weren’t as persistent as we were and most likely just gave up partway through the whole rigamarole.

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