October 19th, 2009

Bank of America...you're just dumb.

This occurred over Labor Day Weekend, which is a three day weekend, and here in the US, is traditionally the end of the summer season. It's not uncommon for people to go away for this holiday.

This Labor Day, I ended up going out of town with some friends. I left my apartment Friday morning to go to work, and left directly from work since everyone else had left early that morning.

I generally like to withdraw cash, use mostly cash, and then go back to the ATM. It's easier for me to track how much money I'm spending that way. Saturday evening, I go to the ATM, and my Bank of America debit card isn't working.

I try a different ATM. Nothing. I try buying something using the debit card. Nothing. I'm pretty sure my card wasn't demagnetized because I could put in my PIN, but every time I tried to do anything after that it wouldn't let me. So I call the BOA 24-hour help line, and finally get to speak to a real human being.

Turns out Bank of America deactivated my card because a "vendor" where I had used my card had "had their credit card records compromised." Okay, I believe it, I don't exactly live in a low-crime area. "You should have received a new card in Friday's mail, and since it's been 24 hours, your card is deactivated!"

You see what the problem is, right? My card is back home, a 3 hour drive or so from where I was. It's Saturday night on Labor Day and it's not like I can pop into a bank to withdraw cash. Okay, I have a credit card, I'll pay it off when I get home, and my friends can cover me if I NEED cash. It's not the end of the world.

I then ask the service representative where they notified me that this was happening, so if it happens again I won't miss it.

"Oh, your notification was the new card you received in the mail!"

Really? REALLY? I have an online banking account. I have the option where they notify me if I'm overdrawn so I can transfer in money, so clearly they can email me account details. You couldn't email me? I get roughly 40000343 emails about credit card offers from you. You couldn't put a note in my online account? I check that every day! There was NO WAY you could LET ME KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO CANCEL MY DEBIT CARD? A simple "we've canceled your credit card due to security concerns, it will arrive in the mail Friday" would have been peachy! I could have gone home and picked it up before leaving town, or I could have taken enough cash out of the bank to last me the three day weekend.

"No. We assume that people get their mail on the day it's delivered."

Yeah. Because people NEVER leave their houses. And when people go on vacation, that isn't the worst possible time for their debit cards to stop working. AND the new debit card comes in an unmarked envelope and honestly looks like junk mail--what if you threw it out?!

So I ask if there's someone I can speak to, since I travel a fair amount and never want this to happen again, because I hate borrowing money and using my credit card.

The lady: "You're right, you really should be notified in advance, but no, there's no one you can talk with. BYE."

Always have a back up cash option if you have BOA, because they can deactivate your card at ANY TIME WITHOUT TELLING YOU.