This email is written in response to Gar Smith's story, dated August 31, 2011, concerning the State of California outsourcing and processing of unemployment benefits through Bank of America.
I have an interesting story and more information to add to this story. I personallly believe this process is just another way of bilking the middle class and poor people of this nation. Below is my recent experience concerning this matter.
After having to wait an additional 6 days from the day I originally receive my unemployment check, I finally received my debit card. Now, keep in mind, I am in total agreement with Mr. Smith's line of questioning to the State of California, wherein he questioned why couldn't the unemployment beneficiary just do direct deposit with the State of California instead of BofA. In my case, I was informed by B of A that the processing takes place in the State of Georgia. Yes. Georgia. Which means that some folks here have probably lost their jobs, but I digressed.
After receipt of my card, I telephoned the customer service number provided on a white, pull-off strip, taped on the face of the card. After listening to the ranting of an exasperated rep on the other end, who informed me in his southernly accent that all of the computers had "crashed", I proceeded to share some of my own concerns for BofA's new scheme. I inquired about fees; whether I could use the card at my own bank; how much could be withdraw at one time; and the process for automatic deposit. The rep informed me that, if this was the first time that I was using the card, that he would discourage me from attempting to have B of A set up a direct deposit on the first attempt. He continued by saying, "You may have some problems with seeing your money, late, if you will see it at all!" I was astonished! I then told him that, perhaps it would be better for me to just go directly to BofA and withdraw my money and then take it to my bank. He responded, "I would if I were you." So, I proceeded to do this.
I went to my nearby BofA and withdrew the maximum amount off my card. Here's the kicker (on this day). The teller informed me that I would have to make a request for the amount that was available on the card. For example, I could withdraw, let's say $400.00 dollars on the card, if I had $401.00 on the card. However, if I had only $399.99 on the card, and I attempt to withdraw $400.00, the card would become invalid for 24 hours at BofA. The teller went on to explain to me that my debit card was like using a, "gift" card" (to hell with my having worked over 38 years to receive this benefit). She said that, as with a gift card, you could have more, not less than the amount you requested, or the card would be invalid. Having not used the card before, I was aware of exactly how much was on the card and proceeded to withdraw all of it out, drove over to my own bank, and deposited it. WTH!
This was just one of things the State of California failed to inform the unemployed about before rolling out this program. Here's a few more annoyances:
1. BofA debit card has a Visa logo. A lot of banks, including my own, process only Mastercard.
2. In order to have your check deposited automatically into your own bank account, I was informed that you should "use" the card this time around and then attempt to have automatic deposit processed. Oh, by the way, go into a BofA bank to do this. At which time, management will attempt to give you a hard sell on the value of opening an account with B of A and the "trouble of having to go all the way to your own bank" line (which I experienced).
3. You can use BoA's ATM for free withdrawals(for now). The institutions will continue to
3. To have your check automatically deposited, you have to have an email. Why? Marketing/sharing of info (that's my answer).
Another interesting thing happened to me concerning this fiasco. I have had a relationship with my bank for over 16 years. I don't have one with BofA. So, when I waltzed into BofA yesterday, I was able to provide them with my driver's license, which is in my former married name; my social security card; and birth certificate. That was sufficient yesterday. Not today. When I went into BofA today (8/31), I was informed that those forms of identification were no longer sufficient. I now needed to have a government I.D. "Government?" I exclaimed. I had my old former employer's I.D., but that was a quasi-governmental agency. "What kinda' government I.D," I repeated. The supervising teller retorts, "Passport." "A passport?" I said. Who in the hell is walking around with a passport, and since when was that required in the State of California or country of the United States." I then proceeded to show her my receipt from the previous day, proof that it was accepted before by BofA. She refused it and told me that I would have to have a name change. WTF!!!!!!
I proceeded to go to the DMV and underwent a non-appointment nightmare. At the DMV, I was then told that in order to have a name change I would have to go to the County Registrar (20 miles away, again another non-appointment nightmare) to obtain a copy of my divorce papers! (This is the feature story of my BofA experience. I swear, I should have had a camera crew with me. No one would have believed my day). I digressed, again. Hours later and after speaking with a more reasonable department head there, I successfully obtained a printout for my name change.
Equipped with my new name change, I proceeded back to the BofA. With a line of 50 people deep, at least, I gave up for the day.
I shall go back to BofA today, and attempt to withdraw my money. If BofA does not accept my old driver's license and printout, I will walk directly out of their bank and right up to their ATM, and withdraw my money out tomorrow and the following day.
I pray that my new pictured I.D. will arrive within the next two weeks when, again, I am to have my unemployment disbursed. I would not wish this frustration upon my worst enemy. I also pray that Mr. Gar continue with this investigation and follow the lead that goes right into the slippery palm or palms that no doubt has or have been greased.