E*Trade Holds Your $3,195 Hostage

After eight months of calling and writing, Reader Brice finally annoyed E*Trade enough to close his account. At least that’s what the letter from E*Trade said; in reality, Brice never received a check for his balance, and although he couldn’t access his $3,195, his account is still earning interest.

Brice had been trying to close his E*Trade account since mid-2007, but E*Trade wouldn’t let him. E*Trade had put his account on “lockdown,” and although he could check his balance, Brice was unable to make withdrawals or deposits. Numerous calls and letters were of no help, and E*Trade had begun to get sick of his attempts to get access to his money, so they decided to cancel his account. Except they didn’t. Brice can still check his account info online, and to his surprise, he’s still earning interest on the balance that E*Trade won’t give back.


I’ll start out by saying, I loved E*Trade at first, $25 to open accounts, so I opened 2 and after the $25 everything was smooth for the first 2 months. I loved the 1 day transfers because I didn’t have to lose 3 days interest like sending money around with the rest of banks. Soon after that my account went into a lockdown. The first 2 months their customer service reps were quite nice and would give me addresses to mail to, let me talk to supervisors. I’ve mailed them letters and have confirmations, yet they “don’t have them”; one rep even told me the account notes said a letter was received, but the letter wasn’t there and no one had it and to just resend it. Soon after this I can no longer talk to a supervisor, they will just hang up on me and tell me to write them a letter. So exactly 2 months ago to the day; I received a letter telling me they decided to close my account. Well I’d been trying to close it for 8 months prior; but this time it’s their decision. I almost jumped for joy when I read the letter because I figured they had a competent closing system where I would get my check. Guess what; I still don’t. I can still login – my account is accessible online, but I can’t transfer money and anytime I try to withdrawal via ACH [Automated Clearing House, an electronic banking network often used for direct deposit and electronic bill payment], they return saying NSF (not sure how) and they do in fact keep paying me interest (small perk). They refuse to do anything and all letters are being ignored (apparently). I would try an EECB, but no one seems to have any corporate email addresses, and corporate phone numbers are impossible to access.

Here is the letter from E*Trade, dated, February 14, 2008:
And here is a screenshot from Brice’s account, showing E*Trade continuing to pay interest well after February 14, 2008:
So Brice can’t get his money back, but at least he’s earning interest on it. Among companies that refuse to cancel the account, this almost deserves an Above and Beyond. Brice says he wasn’t able to find any corporate email addresses, but after searching around using the methods in The Ultimate Consumerist Guide to Fighting Back, I was able to find out that E*Trade’s email address format is firstname.lastname@etrade.com. Here’s a list of their executives. We tried it out and the following addresses went through: Jarrett Lilien, Robert Burton, Michael Curcio, Arlen Gelbard, Mathias Helleu, Robert Simmons, Richard Taylor, and Nicholas Utton.

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