Chase Closes Bank Account, Hold Money Hostage

What makes the next story about reader Pavel trying to get satisfaction from Chase executive customer service so interesting is that Pavel himself is Executive Assistant to the President of his company. He knows how executive customer service is supposed to work. As he puts in, he has the ability to “walk on water” within in his company. Which makes his experience with Chase, where they closed his account for having a zero-balance for less than a week, and then held his money hostage, all the more frustrating…

Pavel writes:

I’ve been reading your site daily for over a year and I get a pure kick when people expose the inner filth of corporate America. As of yesterday I have my own story to share.

I’ve been with Chase for several years now. I have a checking account, a savings account, an Amazon Visa card and United Visa card with them. I carry small balances, pay my “non-chase ATM” fees, my “Online Bill Pay” fees, the occasional “Overdraft protection fee” for when they transfer money from Savings to Checking… in other words the average customer who never creates trouble and generates revenue.

About a month ago I decided to open a second checking account and use it only for direct deposit of my payroll check. Then every other Friday I’d go online, transfer some of the amount to savings and the rest to checking.

Until yesterday morning, when much to my surprise not only was my direct deposit not there, but also the entire account was missing. As in GONE. There was no trace of this account whatsoever. I called Chase customer service right away (it was about 7:30 AM) just so I can hear a totally brain-dead teenager tell me that my account had been closed a week ago for carrying zero-balance for too long. “WHAT??? You have got to be kidding me. I have a direct deposit going there every other Friday, you closed the account a week ago, so you’re telling me a zero-balance for a week gives you a reason to close the account? Despite the fact that every two weeks there is a rather sizable deposit from ADP” Her totally expected dumb answer was: “Sir, it’s the system that closed your account, not us. There is nothing we can do to prevent this from happening”. Evidently, in her pea-sized brain “The System” is an almighty creature with an evil behavioral twist rather than a piece of computer software that 99.9999999% of the time does exactly as instructed.

Escalation to Little Miss Braindead’s Supervisor got me nowhere either. I was told that they can not reopen my account and I’d have to go to the branch that opened my account at, where the manager is the ONLY person who can make this happen, despite my repeated attempts to explain that the branch had been bulldozed two years ago along with the Dominick’s store it was in. Oh, and get this. Even if with the help of the Almighty I somehow managed to get the account reopen they wouldn’t be able to deposit the amount they were holding before midnight on Tuesday. Now I’m not going to start crying that I have bills to pay, checks that were going to hit my account and so on… I’ve got plenty of dough in both checking and savings to cover expenses for months to come. But that’s not the point. So, naturally, I request an escalation to Executive Customer Service (800-242-7399). I get transferred to a Michelle Crabtree (713-262-3866). She tells me pretty much the same story. My simple answer to her was along the lines of “Dear Michelle, if I don’t have my account reopened and funded by noon today, I will take extreme pleasure in writing about this to our our local newspapers (those happen to be Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times) along with spending $25 on a Small Claims Court filing fee.

She promises a prompt resolution and I tell her she has about 4 hours to deliver on her promise. I get a call back midday saying that they will be able to reopen the account (but not until midnight) and create a “credit memo” on my old checking account, but I’d have to go myself and move the funds to savings or the credit memo will fall off at midnight. It didn’t make much sense to me, but hey, this is a specially trained professional who has been entrusted with handling sticky situations on behalf of the office of the president. Or maybe not.

Of course the credit memo disappeared at midnight. And of course my checking account was not reopened, and of course there are overdraft protection fees on my account which currently shows negative balance. And of course, the only people who can fix this are Executive Customer Service but that’s not open on the weekend.

Now let me say this… I work as the Executive Assistant to the President of my company and I CAN WALK ON WATER! Moreover, my attitude is that if 40-some years ago we were able to land on the Moon with a help of a computer that had less processing power than my cellphone… nothing is impossible. If these people really work for Executive Customer Service, Chase has to either redefine what that means and admit it’s just a bunch of glorified idiots, or train them better.

My 2 cents.

Cheers and keep those stories coming!

Pavel G.
Chicago, IL

(Photo: Ben Popken)

Comments

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  1. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Can’t imagine why a guy who thinks he can WALK ON WATER might be disappointed in the performance of others.

    Keep a nickel in your account next time and stop wasting busy people’s time with you holier than thou attitude.

  2. heavylee-again says:

    We live in the United Corporations of America, where large companies (and their friends) rule the land and the public individuals don’t even get a second thought when our money is stolen (in silly fees), our privacy trampled and the value of our patronage is worthless.

  3. yogagrrrl says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: You must work for Chase.

  4. EricaKane says:

    This is a well know thing with almost all banks nowadays. The system closes your account when it hits 0. The solution is simple leave a buck or two in the account.

  5. nrich239 says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Ouch, that was a harsh comment.

    I’m siding with Pavel on this one. There is no reason they should be closing an account after only one week of a zero balance. Plus now, due to their executive customer service failing to assist him properly, he now has a negative balance plus the overdraft fees and such.

  6. missdona says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost:
    Well said. Pavel’s entitled attitude and threats (small claims, call the papers) will not progress his cause.

    And Pavel, in the workplace, I can guarantee you that the professionals around you detest your entitled attitude. You are an Executive Assistant, you are not the President and neither of you can walk on water.

  7. chrisexv6 says:

    I think Pavel saying he “can walk on water” is his way of trying to explain he has the ability to do whatever it takes for the customer. And relating that to these Chase “executives”, they should “walk on water” to fix the issue (which they should, no doubt)

    I don’t think Pavel is trying to show off, I just think the point wasnt crystal clear.

  8. BigElectricCat says:

    @EricaKane:

    “This is a well know thing with almost all banks nowadays. The system closes your account when it hits 0.”

    Huh. My understanding was that banks *like* it when you overdraw, so they can hit you with overdraft fees.

    IMO, this ‘zero balance closes your account’ notion is total BS. Even if you have zero dollars in your account, that’s still a balance. Any accountant will tell you that any open account has a balance, positive, negative or zero. The amount is irrelevant.

  9. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    @nrich239:
    My comment was harsh? Did you read the letter? “totally brain-dead teenager” “Little Miss Braindead’s Supervisor” “glorified idiots”
    His account closes because he has no money in it. Then he deposits money to a closed account. This is an unfortunate situation (of Pavel’s own doing) and the bank will help him fix it, but it takes awhile. But that’s not good enough. Pavel is a rich and powerful man and wants it done by noon today.

  10. Umm, I believe Pavel was simply trying to say that by the time a complaint gets to him, he can do whatever is necessary to fix it. He wants to know why he can’t get that much service.

    “Walk on water” might not be the greatest phrasing, but I think we get the gist of his message and further, I don’t think he is being unreasonable. It sounds like this is his typical usage pattern.

  11. EricaKane says:

    @BigElectricCat:

    If you have a negative balance, you have a negative balance and the system keeps the account open. A zero balance nowadays for banks = close the account. 0 balance means the account is costing the bank money and they aren’t getting any type of fees either.

  12. vdragonmpc says:

    I dont know I work at a bank and we do NOT cross the executive assistant to the CEO. She has his ear on things and its not a good idea to as we say “piss in her wheaties”

    We would like to get our IT budget through and not get hassled when we ask for line item things. Yes her power is limited but we all know life is better when she likes us.

  13. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: “…His account closes because he has no money in it. Then he deposits money to a closed account. This is an unfortunate situation (of Pavel’s own doing)….”

    YOU are a f*cking idiot. CHASE closed the account without telling the OP. The OP has direct deposit with that specific account… He wasn’t carrying a zero balance for a few months. Closing it so soon is definitely a mistake (sure the computer did it, then IT has to handle it and make sure a similar situation does not occur again). So CHASE created the situation.

    What the f*ck is with your blame the OP mentality? Go away, we have enough of you corporate shills on this site.

  14. Wreckoner says:

    @missdona: You sure? People with his attitude are meant to thrive in work environments like the one he’s describing.

    However, yeah, Pavel is right. No reason his account should be closed.

  15. NotATool says:

    1) Always leave a few bucks in the account.

    I’m going to guess the bank saw a zero end-of-day balance for months on end, so they closed the account. If he’s transferring 100% of the money out of his account on the same day that it posts, the account would show a zero end-of-day balance.

    2) Simplify.

    Why have this extra checking account anyway? Seems to be overcomplicating things and causing problems (such as an unexpectedly closed account). Instead, he could:

    a) Split the direct deposit between the active checking and savings accounts (if his company allows this), or

    b) Direct deposit to the savings account and have an automated transfer set to move money to the active checking account.

  16. anarcurt says:

    It is common practice to close a zero balance account. If you remove all the money from your account it is assumed that you’re intending on closing the account. While this is a poor assumption it is one that any bank I can think of makes. He’s lucky it stayed open for a full week. Usually 24 hours is enough to do it.
    EricaKane is right on point.
    I hate siding with a horrible company like Chase but Pavel needs to keep more money in his accounts and quit the holier than thou BS. Lets see some real stories.

  17. chrisjames says:

    Excellent way to handle customer service! I know, I know. It’s better to be calm and courteous, but the ultimatum is great, too. Telling them that they better do it now, which they are indeed capable of doing, or he’ll go to the press and sue for his money back is not a threat. Those two actions should be SOP for consumers. (A) Seek the money owed you, and (B) let other people know what happened.

    In Chase’s defense, of which they have little, it probably wasn’t some operator error when the account was closed, but actually the computer. Though, while the computers are mostly infallible, the programmers are not, and whoever designed the system may just be a totally brain-dead teenager (or equivalent) backed by a supervisor and executive who think they can WALK ON WATER.

  18. Consumer9 says:

    Oh please. Yours is nothing. I actually had an account closed for having a positive balance and was actually billed by the bank! Then a collections agency contacted me. Citibank!

  19. missdona says:

    @Wreckoner: You could be right, if he works around aggressive, entitled individuals like himself, he’s probably fine.

    If he works around well-behaved professionals, they hate him.

  20. Daniel-Bham says:

    Is “executive assistant” and “walk on water” code for one of Chase’s janitorial staff who sometimes steps in the mop trail?

  21. EyeHeartPie says:

    A zero balance does not necessarily mean that the account will not be used again. All a zero balance means is that the account holder had need of all the money he had for some reason or other. Closing the account after 1 week of zero balance is a definite no-no.

  22. thegirls says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Did I miss something? Since when is an Executive Assistant rich and powerful?

  23. BlackestRose says:

    The point is twofold:

    1) Chase changed the rules without notice.

    He had been moving money around this way for a while. However, the rules changed and his account was closed.

    That simple fact is the issue. He managed his money in a way that worked for him and that was inside the rules as they were set up at the time. Then they changed. That’s the issue.

    2) Chase keeps his money.

    We all know that banks tip the rules in their favor. Right now they get to keep and use his money, charge him fees as his other account go negative, and can choose when to give it back. They have little incentive to fix this.

  24. EyeHeartPie says:

    @NotATool:
    So the bank only tracks the end-of-day balance? If that is the case, then I can see how the account would be closed after months of zero end-of-day balance, since the OP was automatically transferring money out of the account as soon as it posted.

    I had thought that the bank tracks activity, so they would know that he had been depositing and withdrawing money on a regular basis. If this is true, then closing the account after 1 week of zero balance makes no sense whatsoever.

  25. NotATool says:

    @EyeHeartPie: I don’t work for Chase, so my idea is just a guess. Banks base other decisions on end-of-day balance (for instance, deciding if you’re overdrawn), so they may do the same thing here.

    I am wondering if the OP has checked the T&C of his account to determine what the banks rules are for closing an account?

  26. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010:
    I was merely pointing out that the OP was being a complete jerk from start to finish. Chase did not close the account to piss him off and steal his money, they saw a zero balance. Normal account don’t have zero balances. They may have 1 cent or -1 cent. There’s no logical reason to have a zero balance so they thought Pavel was done with the account. I AGREE THEY DID THIS VERY FAST and maybe THAT’S STUPID. But that doesn’t make the OP any less of a jerk for attacking some low level working slob by calling her a totally brain-dead teenager.

    Of course, I wouldn’t expect someone such as yourself (who responds to someone with a different opinion by calling them a “f*cking idiot” and a “corporate shill”) to see any problem with the OP’s anti-social behavior.

  27. STrRedWolf says:

    Pavel… it’s past the point of exec customer support. Time to lawyer up.

  28. RINO-Marty says:

    I think the OP has simply had enough with undertrained, unqualified underlings who have been specifically selected to fill “decontented” jobs that require no skills beyond script-following. His walk on water comment simply meant that he was empowered by his position to fix problems rapidly by breaking down barriers, the same barriers that have robbed him of use of his Chase account. I think some people on this board are being deliberately obtuse. I won’t name names, but his initials are GREATCAESARSGHOST.

    Accounts should not be closed after showing a zero balance for one week. If this is official policy, it’s idiotic. If this was the action of a lower level person who saw a zero balance, blinked twice, and hit “delete”, it’s idiotic. No matter how or why it happened, it’s idiotic, and Chase’s inability to fix it immediately is idiotic. The OP has every right to be irritated at the idiots who do idiotic things. That brand of idiocy permeates ever level of American corporate culture these days, and it’s not rude to point it out.

  29. RINO-Marty says:

    And by the way, Caesar, many accounts I’ve opened over the years have had zero balances until direct deposits hit, which at a new job often takes 3-4 weeks. This isn’t rocket science.

  30. felixgolden says:

    Chase closes account even when you have a balance. My father had an interest bearing account that was automatically opened when he refinanced his mortgage with Chase. While he pays his mortgage from another account at a different bank, he always kept at least $7500 in the Chase account so he could make the mortgage payment if he happened to be traveling, etc. He hasn’t had to do this since last summer. Besides the mortgage and account, he also has a Chase Platinum credit card and a checking account.

    He went to take some money out of this account to cover a large stock sale at the end of December, only to find out that the account had been closed at the beginning of August due to “inactivity”. They held the money, froze the account and stopped paying interest. He was getting statements all this time. It took a couple of days, but he eventually got his money, even though they tried to talk him into opening a new account. He closed the other account as well.

  31. Charybdis says:

    If he can walk on water then why doesn’t he fix it himself? It seems like such a small miracle.

    Full disclosure – I work for Chase and deal with exactly the issue he faces.

    It’s not a fun time for him, I’m sure, but he’s the classic ‘Agressive Complaintant’. He screwed up by not keeping a balance in his account. He screwed up by not reading his paperwork so that he would know his account would close with an extended zero balance. This makes it all our fault.

    Having said that it’s a very easy fix. Provided the work was submitted early enough on Friday the account should have been reopened allowing the funds to post and be available Saturday morning. But maintenance has a cutoff, and branches/customer service are notorious for holding work until the end of the day. Best case scenario is having his funds on Saturday, but more likely is having them on Tuesday after the ACH rejects out and is posted Monday night.

    All the threats and abuse in the world isn’t going to change that simple fact. Even if his account was opened ‘right that instant’ the item cannot post until that night. His account can be memo-credited (which is what happens when ACH first notifies of of the incoming credit), but if the account doesn’t open then the money doesn’t post.

    It’s hard to tell from his letter just what happened. It’s possible we screwed up by not reopening his account when we had plenty of time to do so, or by telling him it was more difficult than it really was. It sure sounds that way, but some of the other things he says don’t make sense. The money wouldn’t be posting ‘midnight Tuesday’ unless we failed to reopen the account two days in a row, and he doesn’t indicate that. Assuming he called Friday morning we could try to get the account reopened Friday night, but usually it has to reject out and be posted the next business day (Monday) because it’s hard to get the maintenance run on day 1. It’s annoying, but it’s often the best we can do.

    Threating, insulting, and abusing people who are trying to help you because of your mistake just seems wrong to me. Even if they subsequently made an error in reopening the account it only proves they’re no better than Mr Pavel G here. It sounds like they did what they could for him, but that he expected them to do more than they could because he’s so damn important.

  32. Buran says:

    I’m not here to blame the victim (weren’t we ordered by the editors to stop doing that?).

    I’m here to point out the LM computer had less power than A DIGITAL WRISTWATCH.

  33. BigElectricCat says:

    @EricaKane: “A zero balance nowadays for banks = close the account. 0 balance means the account is costing the bank money and they aren’t getting any type of fees either.”

    That’s irrelevant from an accounting perspective, and the last time I checked, banks employ lots of accountants.

    A zero balance is not a *nonexistent* balance.

  34. chstwnd says:

    @EricaKane:
    Actually, a few years ago I had an account closed that still had over $100 balance in the account. I had left it alone in the hopes that it would quietly accrue interest, and the credit union it was with closed it due to “account inactivity.” I had to go through a claim process from our state’s abandoned property office. The whole thing still doesn’t quite make sense to me. I mean…isn’t the whole point of having a savings account (as opposed to other interest-accruing methods) to leave it alone and have it grow slowly?

  35. milk says:

    When someone took over $500 out of my Chase checking account, I went to the nearest branch and caused a scene. I was only 19 and working part-time living check to check, and I cried. Crying helps sometimes. They put the money into my account immediately without any initial investigation. I don’t know what they did for follow-up, but I never heard from it again.

    That being said, another branch in this city seemed to like embezzling my money. I would deposit checks from my boyfriend, both of us having accounts at Chase, but half the time they wouldn’t show up in my account. My name was clearly printed, I used my debit card at the ATM, completed the information on the envelope, and they would tell me it got deposited into an unnamed account because they didn’t know where to put it. How about canceling the check and notifying my boyfriend? Nope, the money would come out of his account into their account. I made sure to have the branch manager grovel before I closed my account.

  36. RINO-Marty says:

    Charybdis: Your post is exactly the flavor of jerky one would expect from a Chase employee. While it’s certainly possible (even likely) that Chase has a jerky policy about closing accounts with zero balances, you guys should still give advanced notice and try to call the guy or send him a letter telling him it’s coming.

    I mean, what planet are we on here? Do you have the foggiest idea how many months it would take me to read through all the terms and conditions I agree to for every service I use? There’s not enough time in the world for me to do that, and neither is there for you, jerky boy. Certain things fall into the category of “basic human decency,” whether your T&C’s reflect basic human decency or not. And if they don’t, that’s your fault, buddy, not the OP’s.

    If you treat your customers like cogs in a machine and then pissily point to subclause 14(n) when they complain, expect to lose customers, as you richly deserve.

  37. MPHinPgh says:

    @yogagrrrl: Seriously…

  38. drdom says:

    Hey Pavel (if that’s your real name).

    I play golf with Jamie Diamon on a regular basis. I’ll bet he’s going to be disappointed not only in the lapse in customer service, but also in the fact that a you as a Chase employee would rather ridicule the company in public than use better judgment when attempting to resolve issues with employee accounts. I know Jamie doesn’t go around telling people he walks on water. In fact, once he sees this, I predict the only thing you’re going to be walking on is the unemployment line. If the CEO doesn’t have a snarky attitude, where do you get off coping one???

  39. chrisjames says:

    @Charybdis: All true, except even if the poor responses on either side of this case cancel each other out, Chase should never have acted that way in the first place. Actually, let me say that in better terms: it is in Chase’s interest to account for its own mistakes, not the mistakes of others, to the best of its ability, and as part of that Chase should hold itself responsible for all levels of customer interaction and support. Pavel may have been a complete asshole (not saying he was or not), but that would not be an excuse for or a measure of comparison of Chase’s actions in the eyes of the general consumer.

    @BigElectricCat: Nothing is irrelevant from an accounting perspective. Something either makes money or it doesn’t. Anything that doesn’t make money is taking the place of something that can make money, creating a cost. Banks must weigh this cost against the probability that the account will become active again, a metric that is hard to define.

    It’s easy to think that accounts are just an extra set of ones and zeros in the big electronic juggernaut that is a server farm, but space is always limited, and stalled accounts are occupying space that active accounts could use. No matter how much extra capacity exists, occupied space costs money. Why? Because from an accounting perspective, there are no negligible values. A single account is harmless, but that single account is part of a whole that can be pretty damned costly to maintain. If it doesn’t need to be maintained because those accounts aren’t being used (according to their crappy end-of-day-balance algorithm) then they save money, increasing revenue, by closing the accounts and cutting the cost.

  40. Geminijinx07 says:

    @drdom: Ummm … Pavel never said he was a CHASE employee – he said he was the executive assistant to the President of HIS company. RTFA

  41. dragonvpm says:

    @Charybdis: Thanks for showing me exactly why I shouldn’t bank at Chase.

    Good job.

  42. hexonyx says:

    I understand the original posters frustration, as I have had similar grievances with my (soon to be ex) bank. However, that does not give him liberty to call the customer service representative he originally spoke to “Little Miss Brain dead” or say that she had a “pea sized brain”. Most customer service representatives are poorly trained, heavily over worked, and are not paid enough to really care, especially if the person they are on the phone with is a bit of an ass.

  43. EricaKane says:

    @BigElectricCat:

    Did I ever say that it was non-existent. I said it was O. A 0 balance sets off triggers in a lot of banks to close the account. It happened to me and it happened to somebody else that the Consumerist posted a story regarding WAMU.

  44. EricaKane says:

    @chstwnd:

    Yes, I had an account closed due to inactivity as well. Solution? Don’t keep extra checking accounts with Chase. Its that simple. I didn’t bother talking about inactivity, because the OP said he used the account for direct deposits.

  45. BigElectricCat says:

    @drdom: “I play golf with Jamie Diamon on a regular basis.”

    How much does he tip you for caddying? (rimshot)

    @chrisjames: “Nothing is irrelevant from an accounting perspective. Something either makes money or it doesn’t.”

    By that logic, all accounts with balances under, say, $100 should be closed. There’s nothing magical about a $0 balance in this regard.

    @chrisjames: “Anything that doesn’t make money is taking the place of something that can make money, creating a cost. Banks must weigh this cost against the probability that the account will become active again, a metric that is hard to define.”

    Uh uh uh. You’re moving the goalposts here. In your first two sentences, you point towards the profitability of low-balance accounts. In your next two sentences, you point towards accounts ‘becoming active again,’ which is not the same thing. A low-balance account can be active, yet not especially profitable.

    @chrisjames: “It’s easy to think that accounts are just an extra set of ones and zeros in the big electronic juggernaut that is a server farm, but space is always limited, and stalled accounts are occupying space that active accounts could use.”

    You’re doing it again. What’s a “stalled account,” exactly? And what exactly is an “active account?” Can it have a zero balance? Respectfully, I think you’re switching between this ‘active/inactive argument’ and the ‘profitability’ argument.

    @chrisjames: “No matter how much extra capacity exists, occupied space costs money. Why? Because from an accounting perspective, there are no negligible values.”

    Including zero. An account with a zero balance is not, by definition, inactive.

    @chrisjames: “A single account is harmless, but that single account is part of a whole that can be pretty damned costly to maintain. If it doesn’t need to be maintained because those accounts aren’t being used (according to their crappy end-of-day-balance algorithm) then they save money, increasing revenue, by closing the accounts and cutting the cost.”

    This – “crappy end-of-day-balance algorithm” – is exactly what the issue is. An algorithm that looks at balance and not activity, and then makes a closure decision based on that balance, is a POS chunk of code.

    @EricaKane: “Did I ever say that it was non-existent.

    Did I ever say that you did? I believe that you are misunderstanding my point. I’m not arguing with *you;* I’m arguing with the notion that a zero balance, in and of itself, should be sufficient reason to close a consumer bank account. I apologize if I was not clear in conveying that.

    @EricaKane: “I said it was O. A 0 balance sets off triggers in a lot of banks to close the account.”

    That would appear to be an instance of a “crappy end-of-day-balance algorithm,” per chrisjames. Again, that’s a damnfool way to manage consumer bank accounts.

    @EricaKane: “It happened to me and it happened to somebody else that the Consumerist posted a story regarding WAMU.”

    I don’t doubt that it happened to you, or to others. I’m saying that a bank that does that probably has other shitty pieces of code lurking around in their systems, too.

    I *had* a WAMU account many years ago, but not by choice. I had a Great Western account; they were bought by WAMU, whereupon I closed the account PDQ.

  46. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    @RINO-Marty:
    See that’s where you missed by point: I was being anything but obtuse. OP complained and made empty threats and still didn’t get his way. There have been numerous posts here lately about “killing them with kindness.” That might have done Pavel some good.

    I think this site works best when it recognizes the problems consumers face and develops strategies to fight, circumvent, or even work with our corporate oppressors. Consumerist is at its worst when someone says “Brand X SUX!!1!” and everyone else jumps on board. It doesn’t help anybody.

  47. SonicPhoenix says:

    Somewhat offtopic but I’ve worked tech support for execs before and for the most part they’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Their assistants on the other hand have been, as a group, the most insuffrable bunch of self-entitled jerks I’ve ever had the displeasure of interacting with.

    That being said the OP has a valid point and is rightfully upset about the situation. It is a poorly designed system that closes an account solely because it has reached a zero-balance for a short period of time.

    However, making comments such as “I CAN WALK ON WATER!” just makes him sound like a typical member of the afore-mentioned group.

  48. RINO-Marty says:

    DRDOM: Nobody here gives a flying leap who you play golf with. I, for example, couldn’t possibly care any less.

    Two, you apparently don’t realize that Pavel works for another company, not Chase, and his point about walking on water was that he can quickly resolve problems and cut through corporate red tape.

    You have a serious reading comprehension problem.

    Also, nobody cares who you play golf with. Did I mention that?

  49. heavylee-again says:

    To those who are saying, ‘Just leave a little money in your account so they don’t close it’, how long have you been reading Consumerist?

  50. rawsteak says:

    my only issue is with pavel:

    this isn’t some livejournal for “companies_suck,” this is a website that helps consumers by exposing crooked deals and companies, and helps illustrate ways and information to help the consumer fight back!

    i’m not reading this site everyday to marvel over someone else getting screwed by a company, or what store not to buy from! i’m reading to better educate myself and protect myself from getting into the same problems that everyone else has.

  51. Paintbait says:

    I can co-oberate this as happening to my account at least once from Chase.

    I suggest, no on go with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. They’re awfully incompetent.

    I’m currently trying to change banks.

  52. RINO-Marty says:

    Rawsteak – My opinion (and it’s only that) is that reading about how companies screw, or even inconvenience unnecessarily, their customers is a part of that education process.

    I can see from a cold business perspective that there might be a business rule about closing accounts with a zero balance. But anybody with an ounce of common sense or basic decency should understand that suddenly closing accounts with no advance notice is a crappy way to treat a customer, whether it’s in the “rules” or not. You simply don’t treat people that way, and if you do, you should expect your corporate reputation to crater.

    Chase should have sent the OP a letter at least, say, 2 weeks in advance of closing the account, warning him of the pending action. At a bare minimum.

  53. Charybdis says:

    @RINO-Marty:

    I’m sorry. Are you saying that you, as an assumed regular reader of the Consumerist, don’t read contracts fully before signing them?

    I’m not saying it in any way excuses Chase, or any other company for that matter, for hostile consumer policies, but Christ man – take some responsibilty for yourself from time to time. Big Business isn’t going to look out for your best interests for you.

  54. trujunglist says:

    I don’t understand these posts that have the “I’m so much fucking better than you because you are a poorly paid CSR” attitude. I really fucking hate that. Your attitude *MIGHT* be the *REAL* problem here, you fucking douchebag. Maybe if you weren’t such an unpleasant dick to people who probably want to help you but PROBABLY CAN’T BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT JUST SOME REGULAR CSR, than maybe you’d be a little happier and not so fucking manic. Really, you need to work on your ego/bastarditis problem. There’s medication for it if you can’t work it out yourself.
    Anyway, long story short, fuck you, I hope Chase keeps your cash and gives some to the CSR you bashed for no good reason.

  55. sventurata says:

    Call me turncoat, but I think Pavel’s a great writer and tells a compelling story of woe. “Little Miss Braindead!” Classic. Know ‘em, teach ‘em, work with ‘em, occasionally mimic ‘em to evade a dicey sitch.

  56. chrisjames says:

    @BigElectricCat: Whoa, whoa. I never said that we need to define all of these things. You’re right about all of that, though, except the accusations of flipping back and forth, which I don’t follow.

    I’m not advocating the policy of closing zero balance accounts, nor trying to define what is or isn’t activity. I was replying only to the comment about zero balance accounts being irrelevant. They are not. They cost money, and to an accountant and the company itself something should be done about it. If balances under $100, or $1000, or any arbitrary value are costing money too, then they should and will attempt to find a way to correct that. I guarantee they’ve brainstormed about how to close those low-balance accounts or shift resources around to save money. The specificity here is that the article, the post, and the banks’ actions specifically note zero balance accounts, and many banks are following this example.

    By the way, what is a “non-existent” balance? An account is one or more balances, unless you mean that the account doubles as insurance or some other service, in which case it would be absurd to close the account. Without the balance, there is no account. I suppose you mean it as inactivity on the account, which is fair enough. As a trade: I meant “stalled account” as an account that is just sitting there, not producing–not earning money for the bank. An “active account” is defined by the bank, as whatever they want to define it. Consider it to be how you define an active account, since you use the term “activity” later on.

    And on that note: yes, the algorithm is pathetic. I mentioned that in another post elsewhere. If your intention was to draw attention to this fact, then I misunderstood. It’s not difficult to make an algorithm that will examine activity and flag any account properly, instead of just examining end-of-day balances. Of course, there are costs associated with the processing time, but I don’t see it being too much more expensive than simply looking at the balance. Regardless, the handling of the situation is also pathetic. Simply notifying the customer that they must keep some balance at the end of the day, week, or month or they’ll close the account seems necessary. What sort of image are they presenting where people’s accounts get closed seemingly at random?

    Since you point it out, then I will say too that I do mean this all respectfully.

  57. scoosdad says:

    @EricaKane:

    This is a well know thing with almost all banks nowadays. The system closes your account when it hits 0. The solution is simple leave a buck or two in the account.

    This is not true at Bank of America, at least for me.

    I had a second checking account there that had zero dollars in it for years, and they never touched it. As a matter of fact it was damned difficult to get them to close it even on my request. The reason? They considered the account with zero dollars in it my “primary account” and wouldn’t touch it.

  58. Charred says:

    @Charybdis: You and Chase are a matched pair.

    @trujunglist: I suggest anger management counseling before it gets ahead of you.

  59. BigElectricCat says:

    @chrisjames: “I’m not advocating the policy of closing zero balance accounts, nor trying to define what is or isn’t activity.”

    Okay, fair enough. We were apparently talking past each other. No harm, no foul.

    @chrisjames: “I was replying only to the comment about zero balance accounts being irrelevant. They are not.”

    You apparently misunderstood me. I wasn’t trying to suggest that the accounts themselves were irrelevant – I was trying to say that the balances were irrelevant, insofar as the accounts themselves are still being used.

    @chrisjames: “They cost money, and to an accountant and the company itself something should be done about it. If balances under $100, or $1000, or any arbitrary value are costing money too, then they should and will attempt to find a way to correct that. I guarantee they’ve brainstormed about how to close those low-balance accounts or shift resources around to save money. The specificity here is that the article, the post, and the banks’ actions specifically note zero balance accounts, and many banks are following this example.”

    To the banks’ eventual detriment, I believe. IMO, this is a deplorable business practice and the pendulum of customer service will (sooner or later) swing the other way. Banks that become known for capriciously closing low-balance consumer accounts will soon find that they’ll have a hard time attracting depositors. And without depositors . . . well . . . I’m sure we both know where that road leads for a bank.

    @chrisjames: “By the way, what is a “non-existent” balance?”

    Some posters seem to be claiming that a zero balance = non-existent. I think we both know that’s not so. To an accounting system, zero’s a number just like $100 and -$100 are.

    @chrisjames: “I suppose you mean it as inactivity on the account, which is fair enough.”

    I think others may be thinking that; I’m not.

    @chrisjames: “As a trade: I meant “stalled account” as an account that is just sitting there, not producing–not earning money for the bank. An “active account” is defined by the bank, as whatever they want to define it. Consider it to be how you define an active account, since you use the term “activity” later on.”

    Respectfully, if I have an account that “is just sitting there” with a significant positive balance, it is definitely producing and earning money for the bank. That money can be lent out or otherwise invested to produce income for the bank. That being said, if I’ve only got a buck and a quarter in the unused account, then I certainly take your meaning.

    @chrisjames: “And on that note: yes, the algorithm is pathetic. I mentioned that in another post elsewhere. If your intention was to draw attention to this fact, then I misunderstood.”

    Fair enough. We clearly misunderstood each other there.

    @chrisjames: “It’s not difficult to make an algorithm that will examine activity and flag any account properly, instead of just examining end-of-day balances. Of course, there are costs associated with the processing time, but I don’t see it being too much more expensive than simply looking at the balance. Regardless, the handling of the situation is also pathetic. Simply notifying the customer that they must keep some balance at the end of the day, week, or month or they’ll close the account seems necessary. What sort of image are they presenting where people’s accounts get closed seemingly at random?”

    Yeah, I think that’s pathetic, too. I know from personal experience that large financial organizations sometimes “sweep” their cash positions at the end of a business day and dump the aggregate funds into interest-bearing accounts overnight. I’ve seen the overnight statements, and the funds (and interest) involved are certainly not insignificant. But overnight, the cash position balances were at – ready? Zero.

    @chrisjames: “Since you point it out, then I will say too that I do mean this all respectfully.”

    All’s well then; we just misunderstood each other. I’ll have a chilled Jack Daniels, what’ll you have?

  60. RINO-Marty says:

    Nobody reads 40-page credit card contracts, Charybdis, as you know full well, unless they’re total losers who don’t have jobs or families or friends or hobbies. But that’s not even the point, which went that-a-way. The point was that it’s poor form (and, indeed, idiotic) for Chase to point to a clause that permits them to do take an action that violates every thinking person’s sense of basic decency.

    You, of course, are too thick to get this, but if that’s the case my comments weren’t written for your benefit.

  61. Wet_Baloney says:

    @EricaKane: and all the others suggesting to leave some token amount in the account — this is not always a good idea.

    I had a small savings account at a local credit union that I left $50 bucks in just to maintain my membership. Next year’s statement showed $45. What was this? Negative interest? No — they simply have a policy that if you don’t have any “activity” on your account for a year, you get charged a service fee. That’s rich – they get to lend my $50 bucks to someone else and charge interest on it, but I have to pay them for it. Needless to say I withdrew my $45.