Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Staggering Incompetence

Ok, all you re-clickers get a little bonus today--only because I'm so fed up that I could eat glass. Seriously, I'm only writing this stuff because I'm so damn pissed off that if I don't do something to relieve the pressure, I could go off on a violent spree of ass-kicking like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

It all started with the morons at Washington Mutual. Believe me, it's no accident that they're bankrupt and being taken over by Chase--the place is run by people I wouldn't trust to pump my gas. I do most of my banking online, and the only reason I go to the branch nowadays is to deposit my tips or hit the ATM occasionally (not very often though--normally I feel nekkid unless I have at least a hundy in my wallet).

Anyhow, about the middle of last week, I was online and noticed that my available balance was about thirty bucks lower than it should've been, and upon further investigation, I saw that there were a couple of 'pending' charges on my debit card. I thought that was strange because the only thing that ever goes to 'pending' status is purchases I make on Amazon.com. And normally, I'll admit, I usually buy something about once a week from them--with free shipping and no sales taxes, plus their normally unbeatable prices, I try to buy *everything* I can from them--from books, to toiletries, to regular household goods and non-perishables. But all of my Amazon purchases had been accounted for, so I called up the bank to see what was up.

Of course, they told me that they couldn't see any info about the charges, not even what city and/or state the purchases occured in. Basically, I was told to chill the fark out until the money was actually debited from the account--they told me that they couldn't do a damn thing until the charge went through. But I *knew* that they were fraudulent, so I tried to head it off at the pass, so to speak. But no, the bank said they couldn't do a thing until this week (In the meantime, however, I still wasn't allowed access to my funds). Also adding to my uneasiness, the moron on the phone said "Oh this happens all the time, usually it just goes away".

Really, fraudulent charges show up in peoples' accounts all the time, but somehow they just all work themselves out??? What-the-f*ck-ever, dude.

So I decided to wait. I deposited a little extra cash in my account, just in case, and then I got cashier's checks for the rent and stuff that was due this past weekend--I wasn't gonna take a chance on bouncing and important bill due to some nefarious misdeeds in cyberspace. (And since I still get cashier's checks for free, I took full advantage of that and made them give me one for everything I had coming due. Hell yeah, if they're not gonna take my concerns seriously, well then, I'm gonna make sure it costs them a few bucks). At that point, there was nothing I could do but sit and wait.

Fast forward to Saturday, August 1st.

Rent is due on the first of the month, of course, so I had to go down to the rental office to pay.

First, a little backstory. When I moved into this apartment at the end of May, it was about 98% ready for a new tenant, but there were a few minor odds and ends that needed to be addressed. In the first two weeks that I was here, well, most of them were taken care of. However, there was one issue that's been driving me crazy ever since. When I moved in, one of the wide silverware drawers was completely missing from the cabinet--no framework or hardware or anything, just a big rectangular hole under the counter. Not only that, but the cabinet door right underneath it was also missing. To complete the trifecta of suck, the other cabinet door is mounted upside down and on the wrong side, so instead of having the cabinets open up like shutters on a window, it's more like a one-winged butterfly, with the hinges in the middle.

I moved in on a Saturday, and was promised that it would be taken care of by the following Tuesday. Wednesday rolled around, and I was told it would be done by the weekend. That never happened. Finally, about two weeks after I moved in, one of the maintenance guys came over, took a bunch of measurements, and said that he'd get everything done, but he had to special-order parts, and that it would take close to two more weeks. No problem, as long as progress was being made, I was patient.

But nothing happened. On June 30th, I had a delivery to pick up down at the office, and so I figured I would get after the general manager, maybe light a fire under her. After hearing my gripe, she said that she was all over it, but the special order was still 15 days from delivery.


Around the 20th of July or so, I called and left a message for her to call me back and tell me the status. I never heard back. It hasn't been a big deal so far, so I let it slide until Saturday. I went in to drop of my (cashier's) check for the rent, and reminded the staff in the office that I've been here two months now and still have two gaping holes in my cabinets where a drawer and a door are supposed to be, yet they are still missing. I was told that the old G.M. was 'no longer with us', and I started to raise some hell about why nobody ever followed up, and the one gal took my number and said she'd call me back on Monday (yesterday) with some answers.

Oh yeah, if you think she called, well then, I've got some swampland to sell ya.

So today, I called in again, this time with a little edge in my voice and demanded some action. But this time, I actually talked to the one gal in there who has been trying to expedite things. She said she'd get in touch with the maintenance department and call me right back. That was over an hour ago--still no word.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable by giving them more than two months to get the damn cabinets fixed before losing my patience. But if I have to call down there one more time, I'm going to unleash a stream of expletives that would get me kicked out of church, most government offices, and a few bars around town, too. I've had it. I just want the kitchen to be fixed and normal.

Meanwhile, now that the worst of the financial storms of the past several years are behind me, and the extremely slow summer in the casino seems to be easing its grip on my wallet, I've decided to get cracking on really investing and trading again--I don't wanna live in Vegas forever, and that sailboat ain't gonna buy itself. I've been putting huge bucks away in my retirement account ever since I got here, which has caused a little discomfort at times, but now things are improving, so I opened another account--one where I can do a little trading and gambling in, (not just buying fund shares) hoping to time the markets and such, or at least collect a few option premiums or make a few capital gains.

Not wanting to give Schwab any benefit from my investments, I opened up a new account at E*Trade last week. It's been awhile since I jumped through all the compliance hoops, and I was amazed at some of the verification questions they asked me--stuff like verifying some of the streets I lived on over 15 years ago, or what junior high I went to. And it's not like they were asking for backup info, they already had the info, and I had to do a multiple choice 'quiz', like

What city did you live in when you lived on E Dragoon in 1996?

A) Rexburg, Idaho
B) Mesa, Arizona
C) San Diego, California
D) Nashville, Tennessee

Where they got that info, I have no idea, but there were about five of those that I had to do in addition to the regular application process. It struck me as odd--it seemed like something that the CIA or FBI would ask me before offering me a job.

Anyhow, it took about 20 minutes to complete, and then once it was done, I just had to verify my bank account info (more hoops) and then my investment account was open. Easy enough.

Of course, the very next day, I got an email reminding me that I had 60 days to fund my account, or else they'd close it. No problemo--I had most of the cash ready to go. So this morning I got online to attempt to fund my account but it wouldn't let me. Oh, they had all of my bank account info, but the website interface wouldn't allow me to make the transfer. So I called the service center.

I explained my issue, and they looked up my account. They said that they couldn't verify my current address, so they weren't going to let me fund my account until they got a copy of my drivers license or passport with my current address on it.

I about lost my mind--they've got direct access to my checking account already, they knew damn near every street address I've lived at for the past 20 years, but since they had no record of me living here at my current place, they wouldn't accept an electronic transfer of cash from me. Apparently, my situation is 'suspicious' activity when it comes to the Patriot Act or something--at least that's the line of bullshiat that they fed me. And I'll be damned if I go stand in line at the DMV for three hours just so I can send them a thousand bucks through an ACH transfer. The check is in the mail, literally and figuratively.

Why couldn't they tell me this when I first opened the account? Of course, the toad on the phone was about as dumb as a rock, and insisted that I had to get a government issued document faxed to them with my current address on it before they'd let me move money. That's so stupid that it boggles the mind. I've been in and out of the country a half dozen times with my current passport, and the address on it was like seven addresses ago. The Feds don't have a problem with me, nor does the State of Nevada. Even the incompetents down at Washington Mutual don't dish out this much red tape.

But I called bullshiat with the clown on the phone and ended the call rather abruptly. He tried calling me back, but by that point, I'd had enough. I got through to somebody else, and although they fed me the same sketchy reasoning, I found out that I could just fax in a copy of a utility bill instead. Still kind of a pain in the ass--I don't have access to a fax machine anymore, but since Big Brother is busy protecting us from evildoers, I have to put up with shiat like faxing in a copy of my electric bill before I can move money into an investment account ('cause apparently, the terrorists don't use air conditioning) and I still have to take off my shoes at the airport.

So much stupidity floating around loose in the universe--It truly boggles the mind.

I'll deal with Etrade later. Today, I've been going 15 rounds with the geniuses at Washington Mutual.

I went back and checked my account today, and one of the two fraudulent charges actually went through. So I called the bank. Every time I did, I had to enter all of my pertinent info on the keypad, but as soon as I got through to a person, I had to give it all over again. That's just plain frustrating. Not only that, but the person I explained my situation to couldn't help me, they had to transfer me to the Fraud Department. No problem, except that every time they did, I got sent right back into the normal telephone banking queue, and had to re-enter all of my info each time. And each time, I just ended up talking to some front-line grunt who had absolutely no ability to do anything but transfer my call. This happened four times before I got to the right department.

Of course, once I got there, they had to spend two minutes verifying everything that I'd already entered six or seven times previously. Then they put me on hold, and I got disconnected. This happened three times.

About the seventh or eighth time I called, I unloaded on everybody until I got a supervisor. It only took an hour of my life before I finally got to somebody who could help, and once they pulled their collective thumbs out of their asses, I got grilled on my spending habits and recent purchases and such, and now they're sending me some forms to fill out and send back in. It's gonna take awhile to get my money back, but in the meantime, I cancelled my debit card and a new one is on the way. Oh, and the latest pending Amazon purchase? Oh yeah, even though the card is now 'cancelled', it'll still go through, I'm told.

It makes no sense to me, but hopefully this is just a small bump in the road. Even so, it took me an hour of chewing ass before I got anything done. It really makes me wish to re-think my long relationship with Retard Mutual. I've had accounts with them for eight years now, but the experience of the past week does not instill a lot of confidence. They make it almost impossible to file a fraud claim with them, and I wonder if most people just give up in frustration. Not me--after the first six calls, I was on a mission.

So we'll see what happens. Between the moronitude and buck-passing on display at E*Trade, Washington Mutual, and the rental office at my apartment complex, it was enough to drive me to drink--I'm about a third of the way through a bottle of premium fermented sugar-cane juice from Barbados as we speak. Soon enough, though, I'm gonna go to bed--I worked all night last night and got maybe two hours of sleep this morning before the comedy of errors began in ernest.

Anyhow, now that I got all that off my chest, I feel much better. And y'all knew I wouldn't make it until September until I updated again. I've been feeling kind of restless lately--not bored, but not really wanting to do much, either. Just kind of antsy, like I felt like I should be doing some writing (I've done absolutely NONE since the end of June). On the other hand, since I've spent so much time away from the computer, I've read voraciously. I finished the entire 11-volume Horatio Hornblower series in about ten days, and now I've started on the 21-volume Patrick O'Brien Aubrey series. In between all that, I've read a several other books, most recently finishing off Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before The Mast, a fantastic read if there ever was one.

On the poker front, I've slowed down a bit on the cash games, but I played in three tourneys last week, cashing in two of them, and on Sunday night I actually got a third place for some pretty good money. I would've gotten second, but the short stack sucked out on me three hands in a row and got me (he went all-in blind all three times, and caught every hand--two double ups and then finished me off. Grrrr....).

So that's where we are. It's still hot-ass summer here in Vegas, I haven't been doing much but getting the apartment in order and doing a lot of reading. Work is going well--I'm feeling busy again, so that's always nice.

I guess I'm back, 26 days early.


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