Trying Not To Be Too Negative About This

, , , , | Right | February 4, 2019

(I work for a large credit union at a call center and I speak to some pretty… simple people during the course of my day. Some are worse than others. We also have a type of overdraft protection that can be signed up for, where our members are allowed to go into the negative on their account by up to $500. This particular member, a woman in her 50s, has that service.)

Me: “Hello! Thank you for calling [Credit Union]. My name is [My Name]. How may I assist you today?”

Member: “I need to know my balance.”

Me: “Absolutely, I’ll be happy to help with that.” *goes over the info and pulls up her account* “I see that your balance right now is negative $465.76.”

Member: “That’s not right! I just deposited $500 at the bank.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, but before that, you were maxed out on your overdraft at negative $500. When you paid that back by making your deposit, that made your balance zero. Since that deposit earlier yesterday, you’ve done a purchase at [Store] for $25.76 and an ATM withdrawal of $400. After your purchases, you were at negative $425.76, and for each transaction, you received one $20 overdraft fee, per our overdraft policy, which made your account negative $465.76.”

Member: “I still just don’t understand. I should be in the positive; I just made a deposit into this account!”

Me: “Do you remember making a purchase at [Store] and the ATM withdraw?”

Member: “Yes, that was me.”

Me: “And you did those before or after your deposit at the branch?”

Member: “After, ’cause I didn’t have any money in the bank before.”

Me: “Okay, so, prior to your deposit you had negative $500. The last transaction before that, you wrote out a check for $480, which made your account negative, plus the $20 overdraft fee.”

Member: “Yes, that’s right; that was my rent.”

Me: “Great, so, you wrote your check and your account became negative $500. You made a $500 deposit, which made your balance zero. You made an ATM withdrawal and you made a Store] purchase, drawing your account back into the negative.”

Member: “I just still don’t understand.”

Adult Son: *in the background* “MOM. STOP. BEING. STUPID.”

Me: *trying not to grin* “Ma’am, why do you believe you this balance is incorrect?”

Member: “Well, I just made a deposit the other day!”

Adult Son: “Oh, my God, MOM! STOP BEING SO DUMB!”

Member: “I just don’t get it!”

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t know how else to explain it to you except this: negative $500 plus $500 equals zero. Yes, you made a deposit, but it didn’t give you a positive balance. Then you made purchases off your account, which made you negative again. These are all correct purchases, per you, so the balance is correct.”

Member: “I’m just going to have to go into a bank because I still just don’t understand. That balance isn’t right!”

Adult Son: “Mom! Negative $5 plus $5 equals zero! She’s right and you just aren’t listening!”

Member: “I’m still not sure about this.”

Adult Son & I: *sigh*

(Once I was finished with that call, I let my team know that I had spent fifteen minutes explaining how negative $500 plus $500 equals zero. The newbies didn’t believe that I’d spoke with someone that dumb, but I told them next time I’d just transfer the call to them — for practice!)

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