This Chase Customer Service Rep Is An Impenetrable Fortress

Stephanie just encountered a Chase CSR who I’m pretty sure will never fall victim to social engineering, and who would likely be unbreakable in a courtroom cross-examination, too. Of course, in Stephanie’s situation this just means that the CSR refuses to help her in any way at all, which isn’t the kind of thing you hope to find when you call customer service.

She writes,

I am an attorney working on the administration of the estate of an individual who recently passed away. As part of my job, I have had to contact the Deceased Department at Chase to obtain certain information. The Deceased Department was – for the most part – great; they added me to the system handily and provided me with information that I needed.

Unfortunately, the time came when I needed account statements for the decedent for the past year. For some reason, the Deceased Department could not do this (why? I have no idea), so they instructed me to contact Customer Service, which for some reason, has a completely different computer system, and does NOT have me listed as an authorized speaker.

And so the fun began:

Customer Rep: [Asked me 9 questions for which I had answers, and then asked me a question that I didn’t have an easy answer to]

Me: I don’t know if I have that information. [Searching through various folders]. Is there another question you can ask me?

Rep: No. Since you are not the primary person on the account, I have to ask you this specific question.

Me: But the primary person on the account is dead.

Rep: [Shrug]

Me: Sir – I really don’t think I know the answer to this, and if I don’t know it, I don’t think anyone else will either.

Rep: You can contact the Deceased Department if you like. They can help you.

Me: I have contacted the Deceased Department before; they told me that I needed to contact you, and now you’re telling me that I need to contact them. I’m not going to go through that loop. [searching through more papers] You know, this is a lot of effort to go through if after I answer it you’re just going to tell me that you can’t speak to me.

Rep: [Shrug]

Me: [Finally found the answer and gave it to the rep]

Rep: Thank you ma’am. Can you tell me your name?

Me: [Gave my name]

Rep: I am not authorized to speak with you.

Me: Ha. Fine. Can [one of the excutors’ names (let’s call her Sarah)] speak with you?”

Rep: I’m not authorized to tell you that.

Me: Fine. Can I confirm at least that you know that [deceased person] is dead?

Rep: Yes

Me: Great… So – do you have letters testamentary on file? (I asked this because it would confirm that Sarah could speak to them)

Rep: I’m not authorized to tell you that.

Me: Ok. What information do you need from me to add me to the account?

Rep: I can’t add you to the account; I can only add you as an authorized person to speak to.

Me: I know. What information do you need from me to add me as an authorized speaker?

Rep: Confirmation from the person who I am authorized to speak to.

Me: Great, but you won’t tell me who that person is.

Rep: That’s right.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jetts says:

    I can tell you who I am authorized to talk to on one condition: we must use the Cone of Silence!

  2. Gtmac says:

    You make me sad. Come Patsy!

  3. zacox says:

    What is funny about this situation is that the decedent likely owes Chase some money, and the OP is trying to make sure that the estate is all taken care of. I guess since Chase has made it extremely hard to do business as a deceased person, they don’t need their cash, do they?

    • GMFish says:

      the decedent likely owes Chase some money, and the OP is trying to make sure that the estate is all taken care of… they don’t need their cash, do they?

      Chase would rather not be timely paid so they have an excuse to add a bunch of late fees.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        My understanding is these can’t be applied when the person is dead.

        • myrna_minkoff says:

          That doesn’t mean they don’t try, believe me. I had months of problems closing my father’s estate.

        • huadpe says:

          Yeah, I think you’re right. I remember my grandfather had some credit card debt, and they had to substantially lower the amount owed, cause of all the interest and fees they’d tacked on, and they reverted to the amount owed when he died.

        • zegron says:

          If you died your assets have to stand good for your debts. If you don’t have anything after you died the CC’s are sol.

      • zacox says:

        Well, when the money runs out, Chase might be left holding a debt that they will never be able to collect. All because they can’t get their shit together now.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Who’s on first? Yes.
    No, who is on first base? Yes.
    Who is the guy playing on first base?! Yes!
    What is his name? No, What is on second base.
    Who’s on second base? No, Who’s on first base.
    I don’t know! That’s the guy on third base!
    Who? No he’s on first base.
    Who? Yes.
    What? He’s on second.
    Who’s on second? No, Who’s on first base.
    I don’t know! He’s on third base.

  5. GMFish says:

    And to this day some people still believe the writings of Franz Kafka were fiction.

  6. TheDude06 says:

    hmm if you pretend this person is someone trying to scam some account info out of a CSR, the CSR gets a gold medal

    • dragonfire81 says:

      Ordinarily I would agree, but the OP states she correctly answered TEN questions regarding the decedent. That should be enough verification.

  7. Chinchillazilla says:

    Wow. Maybe calling back and pretending to be the deceased would help her reach someone authorized to do something. “Hey, I’m dead, and this is really lame, you guys.”

  8. Kuchen says:

    I had an equally frustrating conversation with a man who wanted to get copies of his son’s newborn hospital records:

    Me: Here is the phone number for the medical records department, they’ll be able to help you out. You could also go to their office, it’s on the 2nd floor–

    Dad: No, I need copies of his records. I don’t think you’re understanding me.

    Me: I understand what you’re asking. You have to go through the medical records department to get copies of his records. This is how you get in touch with them. [handing him paper with the phone number, etc]

    Dad: No, you don’t understand, just give me his records, so I know that he’s okay.

    Me: Do you want to talk with the pediatrician about the tests he had done?

    Dad: No, I already talked with the pediatrician, just give me a copy of his records. I have a right to his records!

    Me: I know that you have a right to see his records, but the only way you can get copies is through the medical records department. There is an official procedure that you have to go through, and–

    Dad: NO! Give me his records!! Do I have to call security?!

    Yep, he threatened to call security on me because I wouldn’t just make him copies and risk losing my job. That’s when I left the room and got my manager.

    • feckingmorons says:

      Is there some reason he would not go to medical records?

      There are laws governing disclosure of medical records, and custodians of records. It is entirely possible that you did not have all of the records, or for that matter a copy machine.

      Patients do not have a right to the records, the records belong to the hospital or doctor providing the service. They do however have a right to the information in the records – the usual method of providing that information is a photocopy.

      It seems he was simply being unreasonable. He were offered test results, and a talk with the physician. While calling security was certainly not what you wanted to do, his unreasonable demands required an appropriate response.

      • diangelo says:

        You dont know the whole story at all so maybe try and be a little understanding. The guys kid was in hospital after all. I bet he was scared out of his wits..

        • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

          from what @Kuchen said, it seems like his son was in the hospital due to being born.
          that’s one of those things that happens to most of us…

    • Difdi says:

      The proper response to a customer threatening to call security is “Go right ahead and call them sir. I’ll have them remove you for causing a disturbance.”


    And after receiving correct answers to 10 security questions, this CSR couldn’t simply put Stephanie on hold for a minute, contact the Deceased Dept. and verify that she is indeed an authorized speaker… why, exactly?

    • Caged Wisdom says:

      I actually worked as a Chase CSR for several years before I came to my senses – and I can tell you that Chase does not have an easy way for departments to contact each other. It’s completely ridiculous and I’m sure is done this way on purpose, but department phone numbers are extremely hard to come by and CSRs do not have access to email or any kind of IM program. Chase actively chooses not to allow departments not to communicate easily. They claim it’s to protect financial information, etc., but the reality is they hope that people will give up when faced with having to jump through hoops like this person has had to.

      • LESSTHANKIND says:

        Wow. Thanks for that explanation. That’s really ridiculous in this day and age. Good for you that you came to your senses!

      • feckingmorons says:

        No the real reason is internal controls that protect the consumer. There are government and industry mandated controls on information shared in the various financial services sector.

        Would you want someone sending your balance by email, or IM? Would you want people moving your money around, or making other changes based on a telephone call? A paper trail (even if electronic) is required for all transactions.

        While it may seem to be absurd to a CSR, the CPAs and lawyers at the bank, and at the auditors, FDIC and FINRA and the Federal Reserve see quite clearly what the internal controls are for and how they protect from fraud and malfeasance..

  10. coren says:

    What’s the point of 9, 10, or 100 questions if she’ll be prevented from ge3tting information due to her not being on the file? Why not start with that?

  11. feckingmorons says:

    Most attorney write letters and include needed documentation. This seems a bit doubtful.

    It the attorney is not authorized, then the CSR did exactly the correct thing.

    • Karita says:

      But the attorney already was authorized – it just happened to be on file in a different department.

      This happens ALL the time. I was trying to deal with a bank a few months ago, and had to fax over my client’s authorization seven times, to seven different departments. Yes, seven. And each time, there was a 48 hour processing period before I could speak to them. Apparently there was no centralized database that could handle such things.

      I understand the rules and procedures are put in place to protect a customer’s privacy. But there are some banks that have implemented them well, and some that haven’t.

  12. feckingmorons says:

    No the real reason is internal controls that protect the consumer. There are government and industry mandated controls on information shared in the various financial services sector.

    Would you want someone sending your balance by email, or IM? Would you want people moving your money around, or making other changes based on a telephone call? A paper trail (even if electronic) is required for all transactions.

    While it may seem to be absurd to a CSR, the CPAs and lawyers at the bank, and at the auditors, FDIC and FINRA and the Federal Reserve see quite clearly what the internal controls are for and how they protect from fraud and malfeasance..

  13. UGAdawg says:

    OT: I must say that it’s fantastic seeing a member of the Olde Guard Fife & Drum Corp in the picture. Brings back childhood memories.

  14. Lucky225 says:

    It sort of makes sense in a roundabout way, Deceased department didn’t do their job, he can’t tell her who he IS authorized to speak to because then she could just call back and claim she is that person when she is not and add her self. This is the deceased department’s error for not adding her in the first place.

    • Tasunke says:

      Like Lucky225 said, they can’t tell you who is authorized if you don’t know. I worked in customer service myself for several years and I believe this agent is doing the 100% correct thing in this instance, if the person is not listed as authorized in their system. They have no way of confirming your identity outside of the information they have available to them there. These sorts of controls are there to prevent pretexting.

      Now the disconnect between the Deceased Department and Customer Service is another matter, however. That really should be corrected.

  15. Jevia says:

    I’m curious as to the need for a year of account statements. Maybe there were some tax deductions or something? Couldn’t those be ordered on-line? Just sign the account up for on-line access.

    As a last resort, just send a certified letter to Chase with a subpoena. If there’s an estate opened for the decedent, you’ve got a court number to use.

  16. bravo369 says:

    just to give another story about unreasonable CSR’s….I worked for a computer help desk and part of it was support for blackberries. We frequently had to call the carrier to fix things. we are authorized people so they were able to deal with us as long as we had certain information. Well, we changed phone systems which provided an audible beep every 30 seconds to show that the call is being recorded. so i called to get help one day. the CSR heard the beep and asked what that was. i said the call is being recorded because i’m from a helpdesk. She responded that she could not continue a call if it was being recorded and hung up. I called back…Basically same exchange happened. I had to call our personal account rep to make their CSR’s talk to us.

  17. zumdish says:

    I had an similarly senseless encounter with Verizon when I visited a Verizon store for a new phone. I didn’t have my ID with me, and the store person would NOT sell me the phone without ID. Arguing that I could buy the phone online or or on the phone without ID did no good. I asked if my wife could buy the phone, since she had ID. They said yes, as long as she was authorized on the account. She wasn’t. They wouldn’t add her because I had no ID.


    I pulled out my phone, called Verizon, and as I stood there, told them over the phone to add my wife to the account. They did, I hung up and said “She’s now authorized.” They sold her the phone.

    They refused to admit their “rules” were absurd.

    • pinkpetunia says:

      Hey, I once forgot my ID when buying a new verizon phone a long time ago. I used an expired international student identity card that i had languishing in my wallet and hoped they would let me get my phone. They didn’t want to send me away so they quizzed me on all the information on the card and asked me what my zodiac sign was. Probably not kosher from a policy standpoint, but I got my phone and appreciated the accommodation :)

      • Karita says:

        I have an ID card from when I went to university in Finland. I will occasionally pull it out when someone is asking for ID unnecessarily. The Finnish and Swedish on it leave them completely confused. It’s quite fun, actually.

  18. BBBB says:

    Next step is the executive office. They will promise to get back to you (and probably won’t or will with useless non-information.) Give them two days and then file a complaint with the OCC. Then call the executive office again and tell them about the complaint. That MIGHT get someone to respond; if not, then you have the complaint started. [OCC complaints can take over 60 days to get reviewed.]

    I’ve got a complaint filed against Chase and am still waiting after one month of “we’ll send another request to that department for an answer” from Chase executive office. [Fortunately for me, the issue has been fixed but I’m demanding an explanation as to why they have a bad procedure that could cause problems.]

  19. savdavid says:

    You don’t have to pay them back unless you are the spouse IF your name is on the account. Otherwise, screw ’em! My partner died in 2004 and there was around 5000 dollars in credit card bills. My attorney told me they cannot collect from the dead. It turned out to be true as we quickly put the house and everything else in my name only. It is now almost 2010 and I have never had to pay one cent to these companies and my credit is great. Every time they sent a bill to my dead partner I just wrote “Return to sender. Addressee deceased.”

    • BBBB says:

      savdavid stated:
      “You don’t have to pay them back unless you are the spouse IF your name is on the account.”

      Yes, but the estate does have to pay obligations if it has assets. The executor can be held liable if he/she transfers assets out of the estate without paying the debts.

      The complaint is from a lawyer working on the estate. Only the executor has signatory power for the deceased. We went through this kind of thing when my wife was executor for an estate. Once a copy of the death certificate and the court documents authorizing the executor were filed in the correct office of the bank/business/etc. we had few problems. The tedious part was finding who to send the documents to (some only accepted original death certificates) and then having the executor be on the phone to authorize me to talk.

      The only snag was a State Department of Motor Vehicles [transferring registration for a vehicle] in one state that would not accept a signature from the executor authorized in another state – they required that a probate be opened in their state. Instead of opening a second probate, we transferred title from the estate to an individual in the original state and then transferred it into the new state.

    • feckingmorons says:

      So you cheated and hid assets of the estate.

      I hope you can sleep with that. It is unethical and illegal.

  20. vastrightwing says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion, after having to call banks many times, that CSRs are not there to help the customer with their problems. CSRs jobs are to convince you that the fees are justified and you should accept that. The sooner you realize this, the better. Banks will tell you they are never at fault. It’s always your problem. The bank followed proper procedures and if you have a problem, deal with it yourself. On the rare occasion a bank mistake was made, you will have to fill out a ton of forms releasing the bank from any repercussions. If the bank made an error in your favor, the bank has a right to come to you years later and demand to made whole. If you refuse, you will go to jail for theft. Banks no longer exist (the way we remember them). Today they are phishing schemes to get you to deposit money in them. They then come up with ways to fee you to death. Banks (oh, and Credit Unions… sorry) business plan is to use social engineering to get you to open accounts, give them your social security number so they can change the terms of any agreements they made when you opened your account. Fees will apply and soon you will owe the bank money. Does this sound familiar?

  21. cerbie_the_orphan says:

    That wouldn’t be Stephanie Tuttle, would it?

  22. robert0 says:

    *sigh* I went through similar nonsense when my father died about 2 years ago. The law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states that deceased persons with few assets do not have to go through probate or formal disposition of assets. Quoted chapter and verse from Commonwealth law an the bank proceeded to get more and more rude with my sister and I over the issue. We had all the paperwork, all the proof that we were the children of the deceased, and in spite of our quiet and patient efforts the local bank was ruthless and rude to us. Finally we had to hire an attorney who proceeded to letter bomb their legal department and file several complaints with the banking commission. We eventually were given custody of the account, but the bank did everything but spit in our face at the worst possible moment in the aftermath of our father’s death.

  23. TommyFeds says:

    As someone who has unfortunately dealt with the same situation, I can vouch for the fact that these CSR’s do NOTHING but read off of their scripts and can not at all think for themselves. I had to close out an EZ Pass account for a deceased relative involved in in auto accident. I explained that the person was in fact dead and the EZ-Pass was destroyed/lost in the auto accident. All she kept telling me was the account could not be closed untill the EZ-Pass was returned or the account holder called to confirm.