Washington Mutual Complaint

Feel free to skip this entry. It has nothing to do with ancient civilizations. Sorry, but it’s time for me to complain. Sure it was a drag to have my wallet stolen while riding the Metro subway last Wednesday. It’s invasive; I lost about 100 euros in cash, and all my credit cards. But the hassle I have had with the banks ever since is unbelievable.

I promptly reported the loss that same day to the stolen cards center and was told that the accounts were closed. When I called Santa Barbara Teachers Federal Credit Union (SBTFCU) I was told that Megan’s ATM would still work. But on Friday evening, when we tried Meg’s card, it was swallowed by the ATM; turns out that it was viewed as possible fraudulent activity and so we were left with no cards at all. I checked our online statements on Saturday only to find out that the thief had been busy to the tune of about $5800. The real mystery is how they were able to use my cards when I wasn’t even able to use them. Foolish venders I suppose.

Anyway, I then spent the better part of the morning trying to confirm that the cards were indeed closed. No one at Washington Mutual (WaMu) would help me. They kept shuffling me from department to department until I was cut off two different times. It was then that I realized that I was running out of minutes on my cell phone (The only way to recharge the minutes is to have a credit card). I tried making the overseas collect call they suggest, but it did not work on a cell phone, pay phone or even the home phone of a kind Greek family that has befriended us. Because of this I was unable to connect with US Bank and since SBTFCU was closed I resorted to emails. I emailed all three institutions to call me; thankfully I can receive calls without charge. By Sunday morning I was getting a bit worried, no phone calls. I finally received an email from one of our two WaMu card accounts saying that they could not help me via email and that I needed to call them. Did they even read my email telling them that I could not call them? We have a little cash left so I bought a local SIM chip for my phone and called. We were disconnected during a transfer and put on hold for over 35 minutes. They refused to call us back. The man (Scott #2069) who helped us was able to confirm the closing of one card but said he was unable to help us with our other WaMu account. He took our phone number and said he would transfer us to someone would help us more quickly. After 20 minutes on hold we were patched back to him. As our time was running out we asked him if he would please call us back. He then explained that he couldn’t make outgoing calls. So why did he take our number in the first place? He then transferred us to someone else who then transferred us to a recording that said the offices were closed and that we would need to call back tomorrow. The recording hung up.

I then Skyped (computer to computer phone calls) Rich back in SB and he dialed the WaMu number for me. He was told that WaMu would not call me back. Next call to WaMu he held the phone up to the speaker of his computer and I talked through the computer to the representative. I won’t go into the details of the call for you. Click here so you can listen to it yourself. We recorded a bit of it. Suffice it to say that after an hour of being shuffled through several people, we were finally told by our sarcastic supervisor for the day, Jason SPH Team 63 New York, that the fraud department was closed, and that he would not pass the message on. It was unbelievable. He gave me his supervisor’s name, Alex, but would not give me his extension. Add to that the hour Rich and I spent on the phone the next night. In the end a man named George gave me a case number and promised me a call back, which of course never happened. The real irony is that in between phone transfers they play a WaMu commercial stating that they offer excellent service and a personal relationship. What a joke!

So I hate Washington Mutual. There I said it. Feel free to send them an email. contact@wamuloanservice.com

The real fun was that in between these calls we used the same computer to computer to phone procedure with US Bank REI and within five minutes had the whole thing resolved. What a difference service makes. Feel free to send them an email. customer.service-fargo@usbank.com

WaMu Update 3/11/07

I have been repeatedly asked to write an update on the Washington Mutual post so here it is. It’s been a little more than a week since Rich recorded that conversation with the Washington Mutual representative. I waited a couple of days before I wrote the article. I was too angry and stressed out about how we were going to settle the fraudulent charges to our cards and just pay for day-to-day life here while working. I posted the article and felt quite relieved to get it off my chest. I had no idea what would happen next.

I have reconnected with many old friends as a result of this sabbatical trip and my blog. One of them, whom I have not seen in twenty-plus years, read the WaMu post and linked it to his site. I casually wrote him a thank you note and looked at my site meter. It was going nuts. I went from having 30-70 hits a day to more than a thousand that day. That was Friday here in Athens. At 4:00 am Saturday morning I was awakened by a phone call from a Washington Mutual executive named Rosie. She apologized for the service I received saying that it was totally inappropriate and said that she would personally be working on my case with the fraud department. I explained that my main concern was having WaMu remove the fraudulent charges from my card and getting new cards. She said she would work on it and get back to me. She also sent me the following email:

Dear Mr. Robertson, I am truly disappointed to learn of the level of service that you received. I am an employee of Washington Mutual Bank and work for the Executive Offices. I would like the opportunity to contact you and assist you with the resolution. My email address is … Is there a telephone number that I may call to reach you directly?

Three things struck me. First, the squeaky wheel does get the grease after all. But how sad that the squeak had to be so loud to be heard. Not everybody has access to the Internet. Not everybody has great friends that are willing to hold phones to computer speakers for hours or link posts to their web sites. At the time of this writing there have been over 2000 visits to the original post. Some of you have let WaMu know what you think, and I think they actually heard you. Thank you!

Second, I received the call from Rosie at four in the morning here in Athens. I’m not sure where Rosie was calling from, but even if her office was on the west coast that put her time at 6:00 pm. Someone was working after hours on a Friday on this. Maybe something will actually happen.

Third, and I alluded to this earlier, none of this would have happened without the help of friends and community. I had already done everything I could on my own, and it was clear that nothing was going to happen for a long time. But thanks to good friend, Rich, and old friend, Rusty, and the Internet community I’m on the road to getting this resolved.

One last note. The fraudulent charges on the US Bank/REI Visa card have been totally reversed and taken off of my account. My wife’s WaMu consumer MasterCard has had all but $.29 of the fraudulent charges reversed and taken off the account. I’m not sure why the $.29 remains; heck, I’m just glad that it’s taken care of. I hope to see new cards in about a week and a half. Now we’re just waiting to hear from Rosie about what will happen with this final WaMu account. Hopefully there will be more good news soon. I’ll keep you posted.


Dixon Family said...

Additional testimonials available upon request :)

jane.akshar said...

I am so sorry you guys went through this. I know finances are really tight for you. What a terrible thing to happen and how awful the banks were. I will certainly email them and tell them what rotten service they gave.

Greg Lawler said...


laura said...

Sorry that you had to go through all that!

GraceE said...

I am going to have nightmares after reading that blog entry! I can't believe it! And I thought I was the recipient of hellish service with United refused to credit me my airlines miles back from South Africa. WHAT TORTURE! How can anyone subscribe to notions of human progress when things like this happen to faithful citizens of the first world???

Anonymous said...

Wow. So sorry you guys had to experience that (as I right now hang out on "hold" waiting for someone at DirectTV explain why I received a bill from them when I canceled service months ago and don't even have a TV!). I'm going to get an account at WaMu just so I can cancel it. Or not.

Emilayohead said...

Seriously, a company that cared about customer service would encourage a rep like this to, I don't know, do something crazy like MAKE A PERSONAL PHONE CALL!! I understand the rep's thinking - hey, the card's been cancelled, any charges are going to be WaMu's to deal with, why the urgency? Because he's not the one stuck in the middle of this nightmare! How different this story would have been if someone had just taken the initiative to go outside of the system and handle this. Because you know US Bank is going to love the free publicity! The story has been submitted to Digg and Consumerist - I hope you get some results! (And we'd love to hear an update!)

Ben said...

Read about you on The Consumerist; so sorry that this had to happen. The last trip I took out of the country, I had a similar experience. It sucks, sucks, sucks.I hope that the exposure you'll be getting will change some policies and practices at WaMu. Until then, fight the power!

Lubo said...

What terrible story

I'm from Bulgaria and have become somewhat adept at protecting from the pickpockets, of which we have plenty just like in Greece.

Never wear your wallet in the back pocket only inside the jacket or front pockets of the jeans. And never in a backpack or purse.

I hope you sort your problems out quickly so you can enjoy this amazing trip.

Ontario Emperor said...

Your story has been posted here.

Anonymous said...

I too have been a victim of WaMu's dismal customer service.

I have had at least 3 incidents with WaMu where: (1) They froze my account after I made an on-line purchase(the money was there, they just froze the account and made me wait until the transaction cleared before I could asset any funds). (2) I lost my card, and had to wait about 3 weeks to recieve another debit card and password. and (3)I disputed a charge on my debit card, and had my debit card canceled again, instead of the bank trying to contact the vendor in question to see what happened (like I asked them to do). During every problem, I shuttled back and forth from one dept to another and then finally told, "I'm sorry, I can help you"...or..."Let me take your number and I will call you back", (which never happened.) I really needed this account, and if I only had to deal with the personal bankers in the bank, it would be fine. They should stop advertising how much they want to serve the customers. As rude as the customer service reps are, I am surprised they have any customers left. Annette in Chicago

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous! Why won't the rep just CALL himself to help this man out!? I'm SO GLAD I'm not a wamu customer. When I was abroad and one of my MBNA cards was stolen, MBNA called my Japanese cell phone and TOLD ME before I even knew that it was gone!!! And they called me a few times to make sure I was ok and everything was resolved to my satisfaction.

I'll never ever bank with wamu...eww, that guy on the phone was such a jerk!

Rosie Alvarez said...

Dear Mr. Robertson,

I am truly disappointed to learn of the level of service that you received. I am an employee of Washington Mutual Bank and work for the Executive Offices. I would like the opportunity to contact you and assist you with the resolution. My email address is rosalva.alvarez@wamu.net. Is there a telephone number that I may call to reach you directly?

charlotte said...

i've had similar experience with wamu. and not just once, but on several occasions.....
i had my visacheck card stolen from me overseas.....at the time i called and asked to have the card cancelled. what followed was month after month of monthly statements showing transactions i didn't authorise.....the thing is, it was a visacheck card, since the money was directly deducted from my account already, they could care less about crediting me back money i didn't spend! i made so many trips back to the bank to speak with managers but was treated as if i was asking them a big favour! each time merely appeasing me by saying there's nothing they could do...they even closed my account, and opened an new one for me, but new unauthorised transactions kept showing up on the new account! it was a nightmarish affair that lasted a good 4-5 months after coming back from my trip!! i finally wrote a letter to the office of thrift supervision's consumer affairs dept to report a complaint. not until then did wamu get serious about sorting my situation. -from san francisco

Anonymous said...

WAMU is totally uncooperative to anyone not in America. I would warn anyone not living in the USA to avoid depositing money with them. I have overseas relatives that made the mistake of leaving money on deposit with WAMU. Every time they want to withdraw money or do anything with their account, they have to travel hundreds of miles to find an American consulate and get their request notarized, at $30 a signature (notary fee). This is totally contrary to all internationally accepted banking practices. Had my relaltives opened a WAMU checking account instead of a savings account, they would have been able to just write checks and cash them at their local overseas bank. A few years ago they just accepted the signed request which they compared to their original signature on file, but apparently now they have staff that has no clue about international banking. I told my relatives to come and move their business to Citi Bank. They have branches all over the world.

Anonymous said...

Please keep us up to date on this story. Here are the consumerist and digg links, and it looks like this story will easily make the front page of digg.



Anonymous said...

I used to be an employee for wamu and customer service was not like that few years ago but since they started hiring career criminals and unprofesional people, everything started changing.the call center was filled out with all these kids with no experience which started putting grafitti in the restrooms and that tells you what kind of people they were hiring. That person should get fired right away and may be wamu should start training again everyone in customer service skills.

Anonymous said...

What a buch of garbage, the supervisor could of easilymade a note for himself to call the other dept the next day!!!! that just shows you why we loose jobs here in the US since none here wants to work anymore so we have to have people with college degrees in other countries helping us out with our cable bills. I have a providian card that recently turned into a wamu account im cancelling mine right now!!!!! better be safe than sorry!

Dave said...

just sent this email to the execs at the company.

To Washinton Mutual,

I have been reading about a situation that seriously concerns me about
the company I would like to know what you and the rest of the team at
WAMU are doing to correct the situation for this customer.

The link to the issue I have posted.



Anonymous said...

Two words for international travel.

"American Express"

You pay more up front, but they can be depended on.

Anonymous said...

Wow is right. I listened to your call and Wow! Im forwarding to someone who trains people on phones so she can use it as a how not to treat customers! Im glad Rosie from Wamu stepped up and helped you. Hopefully the remainder of you trip will be enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

And why didn't Jason use his cell phone or home phone to call for you? Talk about just doing a job and not caring. Yah nice sarcasm indeed. I hope Jason is not still with Wamu, I'd hate to encounter him if I have trouble with my Wamu card.

Anonymous said...

I will never bank w/ WAMU after reading this story.

Anonymous said...

I had a Visa account with Providian which merged with Washington Mutual. I received a letter last Friday with another credit card stating that a company called SST would be handling my account. SST is the service company for an outfit call Columbus Bank and Trust. I have never heard of this bank and am livid with WAMU for selling my account without any notice at all. My wife and I both have a personal checking account with them and that was a nightmare for her in the beginning. The local branch (Rice Village-Houston, TX) accepted her payroll deposit from a local hospital but did not allow her to access the funds for 2 weeks with our complaining every day.. What a lousy organization-we are both cancelling our accounts and are letting everyone we know not to bank with them. I am writing the CEO about our experiences with them. http://investors.wamu.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=101159&p=irol-gov

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm at the beginning stages of my own nightmare with WAMU and SST and after reading so many horror stories I am closing this account STAT! I thought WAMU was known for excellent services, HA! I'm glad things worked out for you all and the charges were reversed. Thank goodness for friends and community! I will certainly leave my own note for the WaMU folks to marinate on.

handler said...

Listening to that phone call is dejavu. I am apalled at the level of (non)service from wamu and have many times pointed out they are completely opposite than the image they portary in the media. I have been trying to resolve an issue for a week and am getting no where. I have the customer service department tell me one thing and that to get the info I need I have to talk to the risk department who in turn tells me a completely different story and says I have to resolve this through customer service. No joke - it is literally a game of ping pong and I'm the ball. This evening, after being told from the supervisor I spoke to there is no one at a higher level that I can speak to, I asked to be transferred to another supervisor and she told me she doesn't have that capability. Are you kidding me? April who answers the phones can transfer me to the supervisor but the suporvisor can't transfer a call. I'm not buying it. Meanwhile my account has been put into negative status and they tell me it will close in 5 days but no one is willing to give me the info I need to resolve the issue. WAMU SUCKS! I guess I should be thankful I'm dealing with this in the same country.

PaydayLoans said...

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Anonymous said...

I know I know that WAMU's customer service is the WORST. And when I tried to call them recently for one of their online issue, then Okay, I would never want to contact them but closing my account. What a heart broken experience and a waste of time!!! WAMU, could you please listen!

lew said...

I understand completely and am experiencing difficulties with Washington Mutual myself. It's very frustrating. I believe it's caused by saving money through the use of computers and processes that are not flexible. And by greed at the top. It's too late to change so I'm closing my accounts and looking elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have had nothing but problem after problem with WaMu. Must be affiliated with WalMart. I had a credit card for 2 years with WaMu during this time I wasn't late with any payments and they raised my interest twice.

Julie said...

Of all things, I should know that I need to do my research! Thanks for sharing your story and letting me know that I'm not alone.

This month, I decided to change my bank accounts to Washington Mutual because I figured FREE was good, right? Well, I found out the hard way that sometimes you really do get what you pay for. I'm still waiting for my paycheck to be released from an insanely long hold. Customer service has been nasty and not at all helpful, as was the staff at the branch.

I travel for my job and I'm leaving tomorrow - with no access to my money. No way to pay my bills. No way to get cash on the fly. Who knew I'd need a two week head start on the deposit??? That never happened at my previous bank.

Anyway, you've confirmed my worst fears and I will be closing my account the second they release my money and allow me to do so. (Yep. That's right. I can't even CLOSE my account at the moment. They won't allow it until THEY decide to release the hold.)

On the plus side, I'm an ethnographer and I'm really excited that I found your blog! Too bad it had to be this way. I'm looking forward to reading all about your travels and getting some tips for my future adventures! :-)

m2242 said...

We need help.

In September a Washington Mutual representative informed us that we had a Home Equity Line Of Credit that we should do something with. We called and confirmed with a different Washington Mutual rep; then we used a portion of the loan to pay off some higher interest bills.

A month later, Washington Mutual froze our accounts and stopped payment on our checks/auto-pay. It turns out that the line of credit that had been attached to our account for over a year was someone else's account.

They are now holding our accounts hostage unless.

We in good faith wish to settle our debts and have our accounts unlocked. Our credit ratings are 795 and 801 according to Equifax.

This has gone on for more than a month, and Mutual/Chase Bank has continued to change the terms of the offer.

We feel helpless against an institution this size. An organization with the ability to freeze our accounts until the mistakes they made are corrected. We really need some help and do not know who to go to at this point.

Rosie Alvarez said said she would help. She said she would call us a week ago. She no longer returns our calls.

Erin said...

I am extremely upset with WaMu and will be closing my account with them as well as badmouthing them to every account member I know.

I waited and waited for a check for 3 weeks. Finally, I get this check. This check that I have previously received in the past (from the same vendor) has always made the funds immediately available for me, no matter how big the check (WITH MY OTHER BANK - SFCU).

I decided to deposit my check into my WaMu account this time, on 2/5/09. I was told at the time of the deposit that 61% ($4,900) of the funds would be made available to me on 2/7/09. Not only that - IT IS PRINTED ON THE RECEIPT - exactly when the funds will clear, stating the same as I said above.

When I woke up on 2/7/09 and no money was available, I called WaMu's Risk Operations department. Not only did I get a very rude and unempathetic employee who was unable to resolve my issue - but I was denied my request to speak to a supervisor.

I called back today and I was told the reason for the hold was because I had never deposited such a large check there and I had a negative balance of $20.43 before I deposited the check. They considered it a possible bad check.

Let me tell you, it was a printed check from the university I attend. The kicker is that the bank that hosted that check is JPMorgan Chase - which WaMu is now a division of. I guess they think their own checks are suspect now.

So now, I approach my mothers birthday, who was just diagnosed with cancer, and I have no money in my account to buy her a thing. WaMu is a horror show and I plan on closing my account as soon as they decide they will give me MY money.

Anonymous said...