Author Topic: Who handles these things?  (Read 3397 times)

CrochetStache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Who handles these things?
« on: May 04, 2014, 05:56:37 PM »
We have a lot of really annoying Red Tape problems that every attempt to resolve through the normal channels is not resolving. I am stuck and not sure how to solve them, my patience with this bs and incompetence is near zero.

I'm sure there is a kind of person, type of lawyer(?) whose job description is resolving just these kinds of problems.

1. No matter how many times we have indicated to Vanguard that all communication needs to be via email they still randomly send something via snail mail, it gets returned as undeliverable and they freeze our accounts. A notorized letter sent per their instructions has not resolved the issue, either they didn't receive it or they chose to ignore it? We moved yet again last summer and I updated our address. Then three months later, the USPS/US Gov't changed our address. When I tried to update my address in their system, it wouldn't let me update to our new +4 zip code. VANGUARD'S system had not been updated. Even 6 mos. later they still had not updated their system but I didn't worry about it because all communication is supposed to be via email. Unfortunately I rec'd an email that they now have frozen my account.
Who do we contact to get Vanguard to fix their system?? How do we get them to actually follow their own contract to receive all of our communication via email?

2. We were back in the states for a short time, and had internet connected. When I called to cancel and provide my new address for the final bill, I was placed on hold and shuffled around to three different people and after 20 minutes my pre-pay phone ran out of minutes.
I clearly got the hint they were not interested in talking to me nor seemed interested in me paying my final bill, however I would like to resolve this.

3. We are rarely able to get our credit reports. Written requests ends up being a back and forth of letters and requests for more information and after 6 months or more, I just gave up. The last time I tried to get them via the website, the questions were so obscure I didn't know what they were asking. After mulling over the questions from one agency, I think they were asking about a card of my husband's that I was added to. The question that was about a card that was opened long before I knew him, information that I just wouldn't know. Why would I? And it was for a card we hadn't activated or used in 10 years! Why should I know that? Same with a couple of the other questions, they were so obtuse that I'm not sure what they were even asking?

4. The student loan company has chosen to go off my contract with them and the accounting is totally off! No amount of communications with them in writing has resolved anything, nor has communication with the ombudsman who has repeatedly chosen not to answer my communications and when they were called out for non-communication has become nasty. I have all communication in writing that shows me being very polite and professional and the student loan company and ombudsman being rude and completely ignoring my questions.
I'd like to report them to the Consumer Finance (Something?) Board but need help with the process. I have over 200+pages of errors and lies regarding this mess. I am not in default and I have repeatedly asked for the payoff amount, which I have available to send immediately, yet they have consistently ignored my question.

Important points: We live overseas with an FPO addy and have for most of the last 10 years. Written communications used to take about 2 weeks but are now taking at least 3 and often 6 weeks to arrive! So communication in writing is not a timely way to make things happen.

Phone communication is NOT an option. I have been lied to too many times over the years from 1-800 customer service type numbers that I'm done. I wish I could record phone calls and then I'd have the ammunition to do something about things like the internet bill, but right now I'm left with just a he said/she said issue which I'm sure the companies love. I now operate on all communication must be in writing. I'm done getting screwed over.

I have never, ever, ever, ever been able to resolve anything over the phone. I no longer make phone calls nor accept phone calls from anyone except my husband. Period. This is the 21st century, billions of dollars of business is done via emails, this is not an unreasonable request.

I am also now going deaf. I do not hear well and need absolute silence when making phone calls to understand what is being said over the phone. But I live across the street from busy commuter train tracks and am in the flight path of an airport. And the time zone thing is often an issue, also.

Monetarily, these things are not that big, all less than $1000 combined, but they are really, really annoying and can have long term and high dollar consequences when we return to the states or if we ever do decide to settle down and purchase a home at some point.

I did visit the JAG office and was getting somewhere with the student loan, that's how the ombudsman got called out to the CFSB in the first place, but then they PCS'd one way, we moved the other way and now we are a long way away from the nearest office. The whole mess stresses me out even thinking about it.

I know getting help with this will probably cost more than the minuscule bills but to get rid of these headaches will very likely be worth it for me.

Any ideas?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 06:02:54 PM by CrochetStache »

iamlindoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 06:09:21 PM »
I can only comment, with no offense intended, that you seem to be insisting on the path of maximum resistance on some of these-- the quickest way to resolve these issues is to contact the companies in the manner in which they expect, not dictate the terms of communication and then be surprised when the results are not to your liking.

1) Vanguard is likely legally obligated to send certain notifications in paper format  Where in the contract does it say that they have to send ALL correspondence in one way or another?  I'm familiar with the settings specifying e-delivery, but know of nothing that says they are prevented from ALSO sending via snail mail or that certain documents won't still arrive via snail mail.

2) You gave up because you were on hold for 20 minutes?  The right choice here to get it done would have been to top up your prepaid phone again and call back.  Or use Skype with a headset and the volume set to max to mitigate your hearing issues.

3) I have never had difficulty in answering the questions for the online credit report.  They generally come down to "where have you lived" and "Who have you had an account with," which aren't too tough given the wrong options should look completely unfamiliar.  Maybe give it another try?

4) Report them as you like, but really, if you want to get something done, you need to call them and sit on the phone until things start to happen.  Also follow up with written equivalents if you like, but there is no excuse for not attacking this in the way most likely to get a result.  Get employee numbers and names, and never hesitate to escalate to managers if you are not getting results.

iamlindoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 06:13:45 PM »
From Vanguard's eDelivery Agreement:

Quote
10Documents available for e-delivery under your Plan accounts are determined by your plan sponsor.

And:

Quote
Vanguard reserves the right to modify without prior notice the length of time during which documents remain available online. Regardless of your e-delivery selections, certain documents will continue to be sent by U.S. mail for compliance, business, or security reasons. Certain organization accounts registered under an EIN are not eligible for e-delivery.

Zamboni

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2372
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 06:23:38 PM »
I don't know what to tell you except that you have my sympathy.  I'll second always getting the person's name and asking them politely to spell it so they know you are writing it down.  Make a note of the date and time you speak with them as well.

In the past couple of years:  I was unsuccessful over the phone in having my internet disconnected (after sitting on hold for years, the agent said she was not authorized to cancel and acct), so I had to go in person to the cable office.  I was unsuccessful over the phone in getting my mortgage insurance removed in a timely fashion, so I had to send a certified letter including the relevant pages from my signed mortgage, then follow up with an attorney letter, and then call again before they took care of it.  I was unsuccessful over the phone in getting Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the doctor like they were supposed to following a surgery, so after about a dozen phone calls (all of which were documented with dates and names) I had to file a complaint with the state department of insurance before they took care of it.  I got 87,000 different bills from that short state hospital stay, so I never knew which ones would be paid and which ones were being ignored until the third notice.  I have experienced the same arcane questions that are difficult to answer when trying to pull a free credit report (just as in your case, the problem was not remembering joint accts, in my case with an ex-spouse that might not have even informed me that such accounts ever existed.)

There you go:  it's not just you.  Telephone customer service at many companies stinks, internet service is even worse, and the people over the phone for the most part just really don't care even if you are calmly and politely just trying to get something resolved.  I've had really good luck with Vanguard on the phone a couple of times, but at least once I got someone who sounded apathetic and burned out there. 

Some ideas that may or may not help:  Since you are overseas but are dealing with many US companies, can you rent a PO box and have a trusted friend or relative field these domestically for you?  That might help with the paperwork issues.  But it won't solve the problem entirely.  Since you have a computer but limited cell phone minutes, I recommend setting up google voice for free lengthy telephone calls (I just get on wifi and put the computer on speaker while I'm on hold so I can do something else while I wait.)  Most importantly, though, you need to be persistent.  If your hearing is interfering and making it even harder than it already is, enlist help.

Again, you have my sympathy. 

CrochetStache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2014, 07:39:47 PM »
I can only comment, with no offense intended, that you seem to be insisting on the path of maximum resistance on some of these-- the quickest way to resolve these issues is to contact the companies in the manner in which they expect, not dictate the terms of communication and then be surprised when the results are not to your liking.

1) Vanguard is likely legally obligated to send certain notifications in paper format  Where in the contract does it say that they have to send ALL correspondence in one way or another?  I'm familiar with the settings specifying e-delivery, but know of nothing that says they are prevented from ALSO sending via snail mail or that certain documents won't still arrive via snail mail.

2) You gave up because you were on hold for 20 minutes?  The right choice here to get it done would have been to top up your prepaid phone again and call back.  Or use Skype with a headset and the volume set to max to mitigate your hearing issues.

3) I have never had difficulty in answering the questions for the online credit report.  They generally come down to "where have you lived" and "Who have you had an account with," which aren't too tough given the wrong options should look completely unfamiliar.  Maybe give it another try?

4) Report them as you like, but really, if you want to get something done, you need to call them and sit on the phone until things start to happen.  Also follow up with written equivalents if you like, but there is no excuse for not attacking this in the way most likely to get a result.  Get employee numbers and names, and never hesitate to escalate to managers if you are not getting results.
 

I have tried repeatedly over the years to resolve things per company's preferred method of contact. Unfortunately my efforts have not been successful. Even when the call seems to go very well, the problem seems to be resolved as per the customer service rep and myself. I find out later that it isn't :( I'm not offended by your comments, I am just very defensive with companies after years of being burned.

1) It's frustrating. We are often in limbo, between places due to his work, our last move had 2 weeks notice and we did the hotel thing for about 2 months until everything got settled. Ultimately at this point Vanguard needs to update their system to accommodate USPS/US Gov't changes. And no amount of phone calls or notorized letters are going to change that.

2) I spoke to THREE different customer service reps who all refused to cancel my account and take my information. The total amount of time for the two phone calls including the conversations with 3 different customer service reps and on hold was approx 20 minutes. How much time should one devote to this? And how many minutes should I have to pay for? I'm not being sarcastic, but in true curiosity. At what point does one judge that a reasonable effort has been made to set things right? Flashes of Mel Gibson's Payback come to mind. There is a point where proper legal efforts have been made. I used their preferred method of communication with every politeness. But where are they?

Spending another $30 to get more minutes on my card for a phone I will no longer need to call a company that has been informed 3 times that I wanted to cancel my account? That's almost as much as the internet bill itself. I wanted to spend the money to pay the final bill :)

3) I've moved 26 times. Where have I lived questions are not so easy for me but do-able. None were asked. No specific companies were stated, not even which company held the credit cards they were talking about.
If you answer something incorrectly according to them you get a message that is basically no credit report for you, you may try again in 1 year or send your request in writing. Some of the credit reporting agencies wouldn't even ask questions, simply stated I must send my inquiry in writing.

I have taken names, written dates, etc and too often the next person says, I don't know that person or we don't have anyone here working by that name, etc, etc.  Since I'm not the only one with these kinds of frustrations I'm looking for a kind of consumer advocate, maybe?

iamlindoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2014, 07:50:01 PM »

1) It's frustrating. We are often in limbo, between places due to his work, our last move had 2 weeks notice and we did the hotel thing for about 2 months until everything got settled. Ultimately at this point Vanguard needs to update their system to accommodate USPS/US Gov't changes. And no amount of phone calls or notorized letters are going to change that.

I understand your frustration-- I was only addressing the fact that I don't think Vanguard legally *can* send you only emails-- I think they must sent you certain communications via postal mail.  Someone else mentioned senting those things to a trusted friend or family member, might that be an option?

2) I spoke to THREE different customer service reps who all refused to cancel my account and take my information. The total amount of time for the two phone calls including the conversations with 3 different customer service reps and on hold was approx 20 minutes. How much time should one devote to this? And how many minutes should I have to pay for? I'm not being sarcastic, but in true curiosity. At what point does one judge that a reasonable effort has been made to set things right? Flashes of Mel Gibson's Payback come to mind. There is a point where proper legal efforts have been made. I used their preferred method of communication with every politeness. But where are they?

Spending another $30 to get more minutes on my card for a phone I will no longer need to call a company that has been informed 3 times that I wanted to cancel my account? That's almost as much as the internet bill itself. I wanted to spend the money to pay the final bill :)

Use Skype.  This is what I do when I'm overseas and credit cards get frozen or I have to handle some other emergency business.  You can call 800 numbers for free, all you need is an internet connection.

3) I've moved 26 times. Where have I lived questions are not so easy for me but do-able. None were asked. No specific companies were stated, not even which company held the credit cards they were talking about.
If you answer something incorrectly according to them you get a message that is basically no credit report for you, you may try again in 1 year or send your request in writing. Some of the credit reporting agencies wouldn't even ask questions, simply stated I must send my inquiry in writing.

I can see why that would get complicated.  Guess you'll probably need to go the mail route on this, then... It's hard to believe that answering the questions wrong blows your chance at a free report for a year, are you sure that's right?

Kaminoge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 348
  • Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2014, 05:40:47 AM »
I just want to point out you can use skype even when you aren't overseas.

So if you know you're calling a company that's likely to put you on hold for a long time at least you'll know you are paying the very minimum for the call.

And I feel your pain. As a person who has lived outside her country of citizenship for a very long time I know that companies really aren't set up to accommodate people who fall outside what they consider normal. My partner subscribes to some service where they open his mail, scan it and email it to him. That way he has a US address and gets to see things in a timely fashion. I'd advise against the friends/family route if possible. It's a hassle for people and if something gets overlooked/lost it could cause problems in the relationship.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8618
  • Registered member
Re: Who handles these things?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2014, 08:49:55 AM »
As above, some of these are easy.  If you want help, I'm guessing you need a personal assistant willing to sit on the phone and pretend to be you.  Some questions come to mind:

If you aren't happy with Vanguard, try another large brokerage.  See if you have the problem with Fidelity.  If you don't, transfer all your assets to Fidelity (it's usually inexpensive/free but  maybe you can't for certain accounts/assets).  If you do have the same problem, maybe the problem is on your end.  Possibly use an address of a relative or trusted friend.  Or maybe pay a lawyer to receive and forward your financial mail if you want to get spendy.

Loan payoff amount?  You can usually calculate this yourself, but is there a reason you can't just send the current balance, plus a safety amount?  They will provide a refund.

Credit report - do you have an old one?  It sounds like you have, in the past, been able to obtain one.  That report will have all the account information they are basing the questions on, so you can look at the open date of, say, a random card of your husbands that is also in your name.  I have never wondered what those questions were asking, though.  They are almost always in the format: "who do you have an account (auto/student/mortgage loan) with?"  "where have you lived / what city is this address in?" "what account did you open in this year?" etc.... can you give me an example of a nonsensical question?  I'm genuinely curious.  Of course, sometimes the correct answer is "none of the above".

If you've written to cancel an account and called a few times, dispute the charge with your credit card company and provide your evidence.  The charges are now unauthorized.