“Maybe I should call the E*Trade Baby. He might give me better customer service.” Matt’s mother died last year and he has been trying since last year to liquidate her E*Trade CD and put it in the family trust. Every other financial institution has been able to liquidate the assets with no problem, but it seems after blowing their wad on funny Superbowl ads, E*Trade has nothing left over for customer service. Here’s Matt’s story, and our advice on how can get his problem fixed:
I lost my mother in April of 2007, and was appointed as co-trustee to her Estate. My brother was the other co-trustee. Problem was, he shipped out to Iraq the very same day she passed. While he was able to return for emergency family leave for several days, he had to return to his Army unit south of Baghdad after we held a memorial service. So, for all intents and purposes, I was the sole trustee since he couldn’t effectively do much to help me from a war zone. My father had passed the year previous, so I’d already gained some valuable experience and had become somewhat of a hobby-level forensic accountant.
My mom was not much of a communicator, and she held most of her financial doings close to the vest, even in her final weeks. After she passed, I had to go through boxes of documents to determine what holdings she had, tally them up, then develop an action plan to convert them all into one large Trust account that I was establishing with another firm. She had a little of everything: Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, and two CDs with E-Trade.
Over the course of the 18 months, I’d managed to contact each financial institution where she had holdings, fill out and return the paperwork they requested, then liquidate those holdings and move the proceeds into this Trust account. Thank heavens I have a nicely equipped home office with a decent grade multifunction printer and a FedEx-Kinkos down the street.
So back to E-Trade. My mother had two measly CDs there, combined value of not even $10K. I’d actually sent letters to E-Trade the year before with all the various signed and notarized forms they asked for. But nothing ever happened, and I was never able to cash out the CDs to consolidate the money into the Trust account. Mind you, I worked with a half-dozen other financial institutions (she spread her money around) and had a much easier time with them. But not E-Trade.
Calling their main customer service number to ask the simple question “What do I do to get this money” would prove to be a pointless endeavor. I would get different responses from different people, and then told somebody would get back to me, which (of course) nobody ever did. I’d continued to write and call to no avail.
So I changed my approach a little, getting away from their joke of a call center in an attempt to get deeper into their back office to locate a person who actually gave a crap and, more importantly, could help me achieve my goal. Finally, I got a call back (cue the chorus of angels) with a name and number. I thought I was neared the end of this journey.
She explained what she thought the hang up was, that since my brother was Co-Trustee, they needed his signature on some of the account forms. He was nearing the end of his tour in Iraq, and when he came back to the states, I gave him the forms to sign and promptly sent them back into E-Trade. Surely now they had everything they needed and would let me cash out those CDs. Umm. Yeah. Didn’t happen. That was back in April, and I’ve not gotten as much as a penny out of them.
I have the name and number of this nice lady that seemed to want to help me, and since she actually returned my calls (more than once), I though she’d be happy to “un-stick” things for me. Problem is, she is suddenly unreachable. Roughly half the time I call her number and extension, I get her voicemail, leave a message and never get a return call. The other half of the time, I call the very same number and extension, and it rings and rings and never goes to her voicemail. So I’m thinking that she still works there, but who knows?
I’m hesitant to call the main customer support number because I’ve never gone anywhere but in circles with them. But the “inside” person that I was hoping would be the answer has become unreachable and unresponsive.
So Consumerist, do you guys have any “EECB” info on E-Trade? I need something. I guess I’ll bite the bullet soon and call their main number and re-invent the wheel with somebody who will tell me the same flim-flam as all the others. I’ve given them EVERY single document, form and signature they have asked for, and they simply won’t let me at this money.
We don’t have any EECB for E*Trade, but here’s how to go about finding it. They can be unresponsive. It took one reader eight EECBs to get his own money from them. You should also file a complaint with your bank’s regulator, which for E*Trade is the Office of Thrift Supervision. Here is their info on filing a complaint over the phone or by email: http://www.ots.treas.gov/?p=ConsumerComplaintsInquiries