“I’m not quite sure how my almost-septuagenarian, fastidious, wheelchair-bound, Social Security Disability-stipend mother did it, but she forgot to list a large utilities check in her register and managed to spend over $400 that she didn’t have. For a total of TWENTY overdraft and NSF charges (at $32 a charge). Between the overdrafts, the unpaid checks (and the bounce fees on the payee side of the equation), she’s managed to tally up more than $1800 in unforeseen debt in the last two weeks. She only gets about $1000 a month, and her last check was deposited before we knew how much trouble she was in, paying this emergency debt down to about $-330 in her checking account and $500 in outstanding bounced checks and fees, and leaving her no money for utilities and no friends or relatives to beg for help from…”
Through this financial fiasco she has managed to bounce two consecutive electricity bills and her next SS check isn’t due for another two weeks. She has received written notice that her power will be turned off in the next couple days. Did I mention she’s in Atlanta, where the high today is something like 105 degrees (not counting the heat index)? I had to go to the bank and try to beg the capitalists for some mercy. I had to keep the power on.
We visited the local branch this morning, and the local WaMU branch officer we spoke to offered to remove two charges, but no more, as my mother freely admits all this is her own fault. A very generous offer, I thought, but not good enough.
It turns out that if we could get ALL of those 20 NSF charges reversed, she’d have about four dollars left over after paying the minimum to keep her air conditioner going, and could get current (pardon the pun) when her next disability check comes. I knew I was aiming high, but I was desperate – I’d spent the last of my own money
to pay for her prescription medications and right now I’m just an unemployed tech support geek. We’re both living on peanut butter and bananas right now.
Enter Rosie Alvarez of the WaMu Executive Response team, courtesy of the Consumerist post here (“Contact WaMu Executive Customer Service“). It turns out that extension 467 is Ms. (Mrs?) Alzarez’s direct line. I called her from the branch office and left her a desperate message, and she called me back in less than an hour.
I want to give Ms. Alvarez a wet, sloppy internet kiss and Washington Mutual a big Above and Beyond shoutout. No, they didn’t credit my mom all 20 of the charges, but WaMu has promised to reverse ten of them in the next 24 hours, leaving my mom with basically a zero balance in her account. She’s probably going to be without electricity for what
may be one of the hottest weeks in local history, but when her check comes she’ll be able to safely pay down her power bill and get her expenses back on track.
And for that I am overwhelmingly grateful.
If you choose to post this above and beyond, I have one optional part: I have a paypal address, firstname.lastname@example.org, that could be used to accept donations to go towards paying her power bill. I have documentation to prove her financial trouble, but I also have no desire to insult you, your readers or your business policies/ practices by soliciting. I just want to keep her power on.
Thank you for considering this post and for all the valuable information you’ve shared with the world.
And that, folks, is why executive customer service shall always and forever be, for the win.
Oh, and please don’t overdraft. You’re just buying yourself a one-way ticket on the nonstop train to ImpecunioCity.
Joe, we also want you to try these numbers for groups in your area that provide emergency funds for seniors struggling to meet energy payments (via Georgia Natural Gas). Some of them may just be for heating but others may work for electricity or be able to point you in the direction of the right relief agencies:
o Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), administered by the Georgia Department of Human Resources – 404-657-3426 or 404-657-3427 (inside metro Atlanta); 1-800-869-1150 (outside Atlanta)
o Project Share of the Salvation Army – 770-441-6200
o United Way Referral Program – Dial 211
Metro Atlanta-Based Assistance
o Atlanta Regional Commission, Aging Services – 404-463-3333
o Buckhead Christian Ministry – 404-239-0038 (serves these ZIP codes: 30305, 30309, 30311, 30318, 30319, 30324, 30326, 30327, 30329, 30340, 30341, 30342, 30345, 30360, and 30363)
o Midtown Assistance Center – 404-681-5777
o Resource Service Ministries – 404-352-5440
o St. Vincent DePaul Society – 770-458-9607
o Senior Connections – 770-455-7602, ext. 151
o The Sullivan Center – 404-753-0535