WaMu Doesn't Care You Could Be Stranded In Himalayas With No Money

Lila got her Washington Mutual debit card pickpocketed while traveling in India. Naturally, her account was drained. She filed a fraud report with Washington Mutual and a got a temporary credit issued on the account while the case was investigated. Less than 3 days later, the credit was reversed without warning. It’s not WaMu’s policy to reverse provisional credits in these matters before 30 days have passed to investigate, and not without warning. None of the various reps and fraud personal could explain why this happened, nor could they give her her money back, nor could they connect her with anyone who would or could do anything. Supervisors are mysteriously never around. It’s a good thing she already had some Rupees in hand when the theft occured, or Lila could have been stranded in the Himalayas while WaMu reps were busy playing Snood. Her complaint letter, and our advice on how to be more effective, inside…

Thursday May 29, 2008

To Washington Mutual Management and Whom It May Concern,

I am not typically the kind of person who writes emails to large companies where the people on the receiving end are probably just overworked, and bored individuals in suits who could careless about me and my concerns. In fact I assume the majority of angry letter writers out there are well over their 60’s, but I am still under the age of 25. Still I am compelled to write in the hopes that someone in one of the offices out there will take a second to look at the appalling customer service that patrons such as my self are receiving on our end of the WAMU customer service phone lines.

Let me please explain my situation. Recently I have been in frequent contact with Washington Mutual due to the theft of my debit card. I spent the last about 6 months in India on a study abroad program. Around April in the city of Hyderabad, while on my way to another more remote part of the country, I was pickpocket and my debit card was stolen. I unfortunately did not fully realize that the card had been stolen until I was already in the far north area of India. Needless to say by the time I was able to contact my mother in the United States, through email, and her able to act on the situation, the perpetrator had already drained my account. Had I not already of had some money in Indian Rupees would I have been practically stranded in the Indian Himalayas. As soon as we could my mother and I started the claims process with Washington Mutual. I was issued an amount of provisional credit, contingent on the fact that I would have to sign an affidavit back in the United States.

Once returned to the United States I did sign and mail the affidavit. I was under the expressed impression that the provisional credit would last for at least 30 days, while the case was being examined. Unbeknownst to me the provisional credit was reversed less than 72 hours later. I received no email, letter or phone call to inform me of this situation so I continued to use my debit card, believing the provisional credit to be true and valid.

On May 24th I decided to sign up for Wamu online banking, previously I had just tried to keep a written record of my accounts. It was then, through the online banking that I realized my account was in the negative, mostly due to 264 us dollars worth of overdrawn fee’s.Then I saw that the provisional credit had been reversed on May 12th, after only being issued on May 9th.

I decided to call the customer service to investigate the situation more clearly. The women on the form told me that the customer service could not help me, that I had to call the claims department and that they were not open on memorial day weekend. She offered little consolation and absolutely no explanation. I called again on Tuesday, and after a 39 minute wait received the claims department. They gave me the run around and told me to call back on Weds. So I called back again on Weds. and had another nearly 30 minuted wait to reach the claims department.

This time I reached someone named Douglas who was very friendly and reassured me the matter was being investigated, but he could not explain why the provisional credit had been reversed. He admitted it was not their policy to reverse credit before the 30 day investigation policy, and not without communication to the account holder. I asked him if anything could be done about the eight $33 overdraft fee’s that were a direct result of the provisional credit being reversed without my knowledge. He told me he would notate my account and transfer me back to customer service to see if they could help me. I had previously deposited $450 into my account to have it directly eaten up by the negative balance. Being transferred back to customer service was a horrible affair. No one would help me, and each person said that it was only up to the claims department to reverse the charges now. The phone call ended with me literally in tears when the manager of customer service hung up me.

I called back again today, Thursday May 29th, hoping to reach Douglas again. Although for some reason he was unavailable, I did reach another associate in the claims department who was friendly and sympathetic. I explained to her that this situation had gone on for days, and I was down to my last $20. If this situation didn’t get resolved soon I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent, or my bills. Although considerate and helpful, she said the issue was under review but she did not have the power to help me and none of the supervisors who could were around.

Now it is Thursday afternoon and this issue has yet to be resolved. I am still dissatisfied with Washington Mutual’s treatment regarding this issue, and I am still confused to has how it got to this point. How can Washington Mutual claim to pride itself on customer service, and customer satisfaction when this situation clearly does not demonstrate those ideals. Even when, or if, this issue ever gets resolved I have to question my loyalty to a bank that so obviously does not respect me as a patron. People do not have to Bank. They are not entitled to our money, yet Banks seem have an attitude that customers are lowly creatures, especially customers like me who work hard all the time for the little savings we do have, and never seem to break even in our bills. Outrageous 33 dollar overdraft charges, and money that just seems to go missing sets a person in my income bracket back about a month. The money that was in the provisional credit, and the overdraft fee’s is the amount I need to pay next months rent and bills, due in less than a week. But Washington Mutual does not seem to care about small issues like this. I find it very sad and discouraging that right now I feel like stuffing my money under my mattress would be a better option than banking with Wamu ever again. At least my mattress wouldn’t make me cry, keep my on hold for 30 minutes, or steal my money in overdraft charges.

I apologize for being so snide, its just aggravating that the situation has gotten this far without any clear resolutions. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Lila B

Sounds like you’re getting stuck in “I only get paid $5.85 an hour” hell. Here are some phone numbers for high-up people who can help you out better than what you’ve been dealing with so far. Call them up, calmly and succinctly explain what you want them to do, and they just might work some magic for you.

Some advice on writing complaint letters for fun and profit: they’re usually much more effective if you can find a high-ranking executive and mail the letter directly to them. Dear Kerry Killinger is going to be more effective than Dear Washington Mutual Management and To Whom It May Concern.

Lastly, I would be remiss to not take the opportunity to point out this story illustrates the hazards of debit card use. Lila would have been much better off with a credit card. That way when it got stolen, the bank would have been out the money instead of you.

Executive Response Team
Customer Relations Manager
Washington Mutual Bank
(800) 225-5497 Opt. 1 Ext. 467
Fax (206) 965-3082

CEO Kerry Killinger
His assistant, Wendy: wendy.cadman@wamu.net

CFO Tom Casey

Chief Legal Officer Stewart Landefeld

President and COO Steve Rotella:

(Photo: babasteve)

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