Random Thoughts on Life and Work

December 13, 2006

Customer Service Gone Bad

Filed under: Non-Profit — Darren Mullenix @ 12:50 pm

A little bit different from what I normally post but this recent experience is so amusingly bad that I can’t resist.

We received notification from an executor of an estate that we are the beneficiary of an IRA account that this donor had.  The amount is good but not super large.  The account was left with the brokerage firm (who at this time shall remain nameless unless they continue to screw this one up).  The brokerage firm (hint, they are a large semi-online firm) had received notification of the death of the individual nearly six months ago but did not contact the beneficiary (us).  The person in our office called the firm and requested paperwork to liquidate the assets.  The brokerage firm informed us that we had to open a new IRA account.  We are a corporation.  Corporations cannot “own” IRA accounts. 

Anyway, we did what they asked, completed the paperwork and sent it in.  Nothing happened for a month.  Then we receive a phone call from the brokerage firm saying they needed the birthdate of the VP who signed the documents.  Huh?  We called their customer service number and asked to speak to their internal counsel or compliance office.  “Hold a minute please.”  A couple of minutes later they come back on the line and inform us that counsel and compliance does not speak to customers.  “But I can give you a fax number.”  Huh?  Does not speak to customers?  Ugg.  We faxed a letter requesting clarification about why a birthdate was needed.  Still waiting to hear back.  I will update if/when we hear anything.

How can this firm expect to stay in business when:

  1. their customer service people don’t even know the right documents to send
  2. their compliance department doesn’t speak to customers
  3. they make it difficult to transact business

 Does this sound like the AOL customer service fiasco recently where they refuse to listen to customers and cancel accounts?  Hmmmm.  Somebody has been reading the wrong book about customer service.

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