Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adventures in Banking

There is no such thing as window shopping at our bank.

They have a wonderful website where I can check balances, make transfers, view graphics of checks that have cleared, do online bill paying (which is free...and one of my new favorite services), and open new accounts.

Yesterday, I was toying with the idea of moving some of my savings into a CD instead of the basic money market account. Slightly better interest rate (up to a whopping 1.75% or so, from less than 1%), though I wouldn't be able to access it for however many months. Basic math here. I ought to come out ahead, as long as I can part with access to the cash for a while.

So, I clicked "open new account" and tried to select a 12 month CD. For some reason the site didn't think I had any account type selected so I tried to select a 9 month CD (I'm a hacker and I'm used to finding workarounds for software bugs....). And on the next screen, I got both. I don't want 2. And there was no back button. I exited out of the process and decided to try again later.

Today, I went back to "open new account" and was forced to continue working on the account application I had in progress (there was no option to begin a new account application, or to delete the in-progress one). Again, it showed me requesting 2 separate accounts, and there was no way to go backwards and fix it. And no "cancel this account application" button. I could see from the little progress chart that there was a "confirmation" step coming up, and figured I could cancel the request then. In the mean time, I was forced to select the source of funding for the two accounts--i.e. my money market account. Which contained just enough money for the minimum amount to open two CD's, and no more.

Well, turns out the "confirmation" step was where the bank's website confirms to me that the account(s) are open, not where I get to say "Make it So". There was no "Are you Sure?" button. No "Cancel this application". No Back Button.

I immediately called their customer service number, and was transferred and put on hold and then told that I had indeed opened two CD's (thus practically zeroing out an account that I use as a small cushion for my checking account, and tying that money up for 9 months and 12 months). They didn't have immediate access to undo the account creation. They will have to get back to me about my options.


The good thing is that I mucked with my own personal account and haven't, say, zeroed out the joint account that pays all the important bills (like the mortgage and daycare). But now I know. This isn't Amazon.com where I get a chance to review my order before charging it. And I'm not allowed to make mistakes or change my mind in the middle. Guess I'll be thinking twice before attempting any more "be-your-own-financial-advisor" tricks....

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