Update: I No Longer Need To Drive 1,500 Miles To Close My Dead Mother's Bank Account

Yesterday, we brought you the story of a man in Pennsylvania who was told by Bank of America that he would need to travel all the way to Texas just so he could close out his recently deceased mother’s account at Bank of America. Well, after someone at BofA spotted the story on Consumerist, the reader received not one, but two (2) positive responses from the bank.

Here’s what happened in his own words:

The day the story was posted on Consumerist I received a phone call from representative “n” because of the posting. “n” was very pleasant to speak with, apologized for my experience with Bank of America and started off her resolution by “setting my expectations” – meaning that she gave me her full name, a phone number at which she could be easily reached and assured me that she would resolve the issue and take responsibility for making sure that this issue was resolved and would follow up with me until that happened. Bank of America had sent “the Wolf”

“n” asked me to fax a clarified set of instructions to her with explicit instructions for the disbursement of the funds. This needed to be notarized (here in PA, of course). But this would be the last step I needed to take and that she would handle everything else. I faxed this document to her yesterday afternoon. I received a phone call from her within half an hour of sending the fax – and she still apologized as though there had been a delay! She arranged with the manager of BofA’s resolution department to have the check sent to me via Fedex. It should arrive sometime today.

In the meantime I received another phone call yesterday from another representative “m” from BofA’s executive CS department. She also apologized and BofA is making good by sending a gift card my way. I spoke with “m” about the specific underlying issues that I had with the customer service experience I had. She promised to use this as a learning experience.

So in summary – I am completely happy with the ultimate resolution and the treatment I am currently receiving from Bank of America. I will gladly sing the praises of “n” and “m” to anyone who will listen and I’m happy the BofA sent them my way. I get the sense that both “n” and “m” have the driving motivation of making things right just because that’s the right thing to do.

However given all of this I don’t think this resolution excuses Bank of America for what I see are probably systemic flaws in the customer experience:

1. I don’t expect perfect answers from a front-line customer service representative when the subject matter gets outside of their expertise. But it would be nice if they could recognize when they are outside of their comfort zone and either seek assistance or pass the call up the chain of command. It really doesn’t pass the smell test to tell a customer to drive 1500 miles just to close an account – recognize that before you say the words.

2. If a company sends me correspondence then I really expect to be able to talk to either the department that sent me the letter or have a customer service representative talk to that department on my behalf. It was just plain cheesy for BofA to send me a letter telling me to go get something notarized in Texas without some way of getting some clarification. I called the customer service letter on the letter and got a corporate shrug.

3. I should never get escalated to a “supervisor” and be told yes it looks like we screwed up and no I can’t help you. I would hope by the time a call got to this level that the representative would be trained to either find the correct person to fix the problem or even better to take responsibility for the issue like “n” did. I was variously told by BofA’s supervisor:
a. “You are trying to fight the system. You can’t do that. You are just beating your head against the wall”
b. “I don’t have a solution. If I were in your shoes…” repeated several times and annoying as hell – I wanted an answer not personal advice.
c. “This is the end of the line. There is nobody else you can talk to.”