Greetings and welcome to Day 20 of the month of February 2018. So far today all the hits on my blog are surf hits. This means that of all the views, all of them were generated by search engine links and not just people going to my blog homepage. This makes me a bit happy as my body of work gets read around the globe – thank you Spain and the UK plus all the bulk of my readers here stateside!
It seems like the entire month of February I have been in a constant state of stress: Paying bills, planning for the wedding, organizing a softball benefit tournament, fighting with T-Mobile, going to work, getting caught in awful daily traffic, worrying about the leaky bathroom shower, trying to find energy for household chores and about 10,000 other things my mind obsesses over on a daily basis. The cause of my headache and chest tightness for yesterday was the company that runs my former HSA account (MyBenefitWallet.com).
So let’s set the stage: On the 23rd of January (2018) I received a monthly automated e-mail from MyBenefitWallet who handled my medical HSA account from a former employer that was opened about a year ago. In reviewing the history of the account, I noticed that the balance was declining even though I rarely used this account. On the day I was viewing the account, the balance remaining was $138.xx (I forget what the cents were, but it was like $138.95 or something). I did a little quick math and calculated that this company, who managed my HAS, had taken about $50.00 over the life of the account in the form of a monthly ‘service fee’ of $4.xx. At that moment I decided to take the option to liquidate my account. As I noted before, the balance was $138.xx and making a request for a self-payable check (to pay for medical items) was an option. Their system allowed me to request this $138.00 check. Additionally, I sent them a note through their website with instructions to close out my account. These actions did not take long, maybe 10-15 minutes and about a week or so later, I received the check. After a few days had gone by (because of my busy schedule), I deposited the check into my account along with another check I had been holding onto for a few weeks. With this piece of business concluded (or so I thought) I forgot about MyBenefitWallet.com.
On February 9, 2018 I was checking my online account and I noticed a drop in my balance from February 8th. The drop was not huge but still noticeable. For that time of the month, I assumed it was probably my car insurance plus maybe one of the occasions we ate out at a restaurant. In scrolling through the transactions, I saw a returned check (-$138.00) and returned check fee (-$13.00). First off I was dumbfounded and didn’t recognize the amount. When I had made the deposit of the MyBenefitWallet check and that other check, the amounts were combined into one total deposit lumped together. So I called and spoke to a credit union customer service rep; she pulled up a copy of the check and told me who it was from and that it was not honored because of non-sufficient funds. Again I was befuddled. I hadn’t heard of a huge institution’s check not being honored for lack of funds. I thanked the credit union lady for the information and made a note to follow up with my HSA people.
As this was not a huge deal in the moment, I didn’t immediately reach out to the MyBenefitWallet people until Monday, February 19th (President’s Day). I decided to check the website and found their main line #877-472-4200. With the number written on a Post-it, I decided I would call them while I was killing time in traffic on the way home from work. In my first attempt to call them, I called and after a wait of a few minutes, I spoke to rep. This male rep (very hard to understand) refused to confirm my account even though I gave my address, phone number, alternate address, last four digits of my social security number and security question answer. About 7 minutes into this verbal dance, he hung up on me. On top of being tired from a long day at work and fighting highway 270 traffic in the afternoon, this company, who has messed up my money, hangs up on me? Needless to say, my mindset was really agitated.
Naturally I call back, go through the prompts and after a minute or two wait, I get a different live person. I immediately requested a supervisor or manager. After a reasonably short wait, I get transferred to supervisor Ralph Sanchez. Once again I regurgitate all the verification questions to prove I am myself. We start discussing my HSA account and the bounced check. I explained that I requested the $138.00 and made a note at the time for them to close my account (the automated voices now state I have an open balance of $84.xx). Ralph proceeds to tell me the check was not honored because it was presented after the end of January and there was a $4.xx monthly service fee assessed. This led to the check being presented twice with a $25 NSF fee assessed each time it was presented thus the $84.xx. I informed him that on January 23rd when I made the request, the funds were available and I noted at that time for them to close my account. He proceeded to tell me that the way I requested to close my account was invalid. Closing an account can only be done over the phone or via fax/mailed letter. By now I’m very agitated, unhappy and unsatisfied with the situation. I said, can you escalate this to your boss to get me my $138.00 plus the $13.00 NSF fee my bank charged and close out my account to make this right? He said, no we cannot do that because you didn’t close out your account in time to avoid that monthly service fee. From here Ralph spews some more standard responses obviously from a script. I have had enough and ask for his boss. Ralph tells me that he is the highest level available at this time.
I’m going to be honest, from this point on everything said to Ralph was in a very loud vocal tone. I did not curse at him or call him names, I made very sure not to do such a thing. But I definitively was yelling at Ralph and did so for a good 8-10 minutes. Towards the end of the call I started to feel bad for Ralph but in every situation where we take the reins and try to guide those runaway stagecoaches, you more or less find out that you are just along for the ride. Ralph made repeated attempts to try to give me the requested information to write down (out of his script of responses) and I repeatedly told him that I was driving and unable to write down information. Apparently employees of MyBenefitWallet.com have e-mail addresses but they are not allowed to send e-mails out into the world per Ralph. Finally he agreed to call me back at 8 pm CST (9 pm EST where he was) to convey to me the contact information for his operations manager (Milagros Velasquez). At 8:25 pm my time, I called back and was told Ralph was on another call. A few minutes later, he got on the line and gave me a general e-mail address to escalate my issue: firstname.lastname@example.org, but then said, oh wait no that is the old address! He then spelled out the e-mail for the proper escalation: email@example.com and also provided the mailing address as: 500 Plaza Drive 8th Floor – Secaucus, NJ 07094.
For those wealthy readers reading this, you may be saying $138.00 (plus $13.00) is not a huge amount of money, just forget about it. Duly noted. At this time, for me $138.00 is not make or break but with a wedding 8.5 months away, I kind of need it all. Also this was coming on the heels of the Transamerica fiasco from January that cost me $121.00 in finance charges on my credit card (because Transamerica cannot figure out how to do a regular disbursement like a real financial organization). Based on these events, I was not about to throw more money away on the ineptness of a company that should reasonably know how to distribute money and treat a customer. In the end this process may cause me to have a heart attack but I’m not going to let them step on the little guy. An reasonably person can see what the right course of action is and have the right thing done. If need be, since everything is leveraged in social media these days, I will post this everywhere until I get my $151.00 from MyBenefitWallet.com ($138.00 of my money and the $13.00 NSF fee charged by my credit union from HSA shenanigans).
I hope all of you are having a less stressful 2018 because so far this year has been unpleasant and disappointing far too often!