Flu Shot

February 19th, 2013 — 9:17am

My health insurance company sent me a bill for a flu shot from a few months back. They’ve always covered my flu shots in the past. In fact, I thought they were required to, but I’m not sure. I called. They said it was just a mistake, and it was fixed.

Comment » | Overcharging

Beware Inactivity Fees

January 20th, 2013 — 4:43pm

I had about $55 remaining in my NASA FCU account, which I had never gotten around to closing. Most of that money was put in my account when I put up a fight over the change in the appraisal fee at settlement. I got a mysterious letter a few weeks ago that said I had closed my account. I called NASA to find out what happened. They said there is a $5 inactivity fee every month. My account was drained to $0, and then they closed it. Unfortunately, I get all of my statements electronically, and I haven’t bothered to log in any time within the past year, so I had no idea. This is definitely something you need to be aware of when you open an account. There may also be a minimum, above which, they don’t charge inactivity fees.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly

Trust Account (continued)

October 21st, 2012 — 10:40pm

Wells Fargo has agreed to refund the trust account.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly, Overcharging

Trust Account (continued)

October 17th, 2012 — 9:28pm

So, I’m now in a fight with Wells Fargo over $3.50. They again took $7 out of my account, even after I brought it in compliance with the $1500 minimum. After a few emails, they refunded half. I then threatened to complain to the BBB, Pissed Consumer, and Ripoff Report. They wouldn’t back down. Apparently, they are so incompetent, they would risk damage to their reputation over $3.50. I’ve also added Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Thus far I’ve contacted the BBB.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly, Overcharging

NASA FCU Responds

September 25th, 2012 — 7:43pm

I sent NASA FCU my letter of intent. Here is the response. I guess I have some paperwork fill out.

I received your letter dated September 2012 and postmarked September 20, 2012 in today’s mail. Your complaint about the handling of two loans in 2010 has already been addressed. The NCUA received your complaint in February 2011 and notified you of their conclusion in a letter dated April 14, 2011.

We consider this matter closed.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly

Trust Account

September 25th, 2012 — 7:41pm

I store my tenants’ deposits in a trust account with Wells Fargo as required by law. It’s really just a checking account. They told me there is no difference between a regular account and a trust account. But then they decided to start charging fees on all their accounts. They would not make an exception for trust accounts. However, I was told they would lower the minimum account balance to avoid the fee to $700 on my account.

Then several weeks later, $7 suddenly comes out of that account. I yelled at them; they replaced the money, but now I have to find another bank. Rats.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly

A place to sleep (continued)

August 1st, 2012 — 4:37pm

See last post.

So the service guy came out. He was able to lower the bed portion of the sofa an inch, which was as far down as it would go. Then he found some cylindrical legs, which were slightly shorter, that look like they belonged to a different type of furniture. After making those changes, the bed is only elevated slightly. We have decided it’s good enough. What boggles my mind is that even with the bed screwed in as low as it can possibly go, it’s still clearly not right. The only possibilities I can think of are either (1) they put the wrong model bed into the sofa, or (2) the sofa has a fundamental design flaw, and they’ve just decided to sell it that way.

Comment » | Shoddy Merchandise

A place to sleep (continued)

July 19th, 2012 — 7:09pm

See last post.

VCF set a time. They called the day before, but it turned out they wouldn’t go to my address. After hanging up, I did some research and found out that there was another store close by. I had to make numerous calls to two different stores. Every VCF seems to have a different system for handling calls. Store 59 has a particularly obnoxious call waiting sound. It’s a loud beep every few seconds. I guess they really don’t want your call.

Eventually, I thought that they were going to call back to set a new time, but after calling a couple of times, I thought maybe they were avoiding me instead. So that evening, I sent a nasty email through their website. This may have been a little premature.

Hello, I waited a week and a half to have a service person sent out to fix my new sofa. Then I was told store 59 doesn’t go to [removed]. After several more phone calls, I found out that store 74 does service [removed]. I’ve called twice and was supposed to receive a return call.

Please take a look at the wonderful quality of this Value City Furniture product! I was not expecting luxury for under $1000, but is it too much to ask that it at least be functional? These photos go up on my blog next week.

In the mean time, I spent a lot of money on this nearly functional sofa bed, and I plan to use it. It’s really wobbly though; I hope I don’t get hurt. I don’t suppose you know what jury awards for product liability torts go for these days? It’s probably a little more than the three dollars in gas it will take to send the service tech out here. Anyhow, give me a call.

I provided links to the following images.

I called again the next morning and they finally agreed to send a service technician. There was also some whining about how they weren’t really supposed to do this since I picked the sofa up myself rather than paying for the delivery fee. Later in the day, someone called about the email I had sent. I told him store 74 had agreed to send someone out; he sounded relieved. Now we’ll find out if they can actually fix the problem.

Comment » | Caveat Emptor, Shoddy Merchandise

A place to sleep

July 18th, 2012 — 9:30pm

My girlfriend followed me to Maryland. She hired MBM Moving Systems to move her stuff. For the most part, everything went fine. But her sofa showed up with oil stains on it. She didn’t pay for an extended insurance policy, so her damages were limited to 60 cents per pound, or $180 for the sofa. This covered slightly more than the cost of having the stains removed.

Unfortunately removing oil stains from fabric is really hard, and the company she hired to do it wasn’t very successful. We decided to flip the cushions over and live with the remaining stains. They weren’t that noticeable. But then we got a big surprise. The bed in the sofa was wrecked beyond repair. I have never even been able to figure out how it was damaged so badly. It must have taken some immense force, like say dropping it a story, yet somehow the exterior of the sofa was not damaged. In any case she was screwed.

But it gets better. In order to get the $180 for a sofa that cost around five times as much, they made her sign a document that said they had no further obligations and that she would not report them to any reporting agencies such as the BBB. And she had to get it notarized. I doubt that such a document would hold up in court if it was challenged, but they still withheld her money until it was signed and notarized.

I needed a cheap sofa for my house. So I bought her a new sofa bed, and took her still-functional-as-a-sofa sofa bed. Value City Furniture (VCF) has lower end furniture that you can get at good prices. We found a sofa bed that I thought was comparable to, but maybe not quite as nice, as what she had, and it was on sale for $500. When we picked it up, I made sure it was intact and that it included the bed. It was possible to buy the same sofa without the bed for $100 less, so I need to make sure they didn’t screw it up. Everything looked good.

And yet it wasn’t. After we set it up and attached the feet, I found out that the top of the bed was three to four inches higher than the bottom of the bed. Basically, it was unusable. I don’t understand how such a thing ever could have even left the factory. It would have take 10 seconds to pull it out and look at it and see that it was not fit for sale.

By now I’m getting upset. She spent around $900 for a sofa that only lasted a few years. Then she spent another $100 on an air mattress to replace the bed. I invested another $500, and we still don’t have a working sofa bed, never mind the time we’ve invested. I drove all the way back to the store to verify the demo model they had shown us did in fact have a bed that was level with the ground. I was told to have the service department have a service technician come out and take a look.

More to come.

Comment » | Caveat Emptor, Shoddy Merchandise

Hidden Fees

April 16th, 2012 — 9:16pm

It was time to move my old 401K into a rollover IRA. I had limited choices and control over my 401k contributions. Why my employer chose ADP, I have no idea. I opened a Fidelity rollover IRA account into which I intended to transfer my 401K. I chose Fidelity because my current employer uses them for our 401k and other accounts.

I was told IRAs that I opened myself could by automatically transferred by Fidelity from the other brokerage. Whether my stocks will be sold first or not I don’t know, as I haven’t gone through the process yet. But in the case of 401Ks opened by an employer, both Fidelity, and a discount broker I use, told me the stocks would have to be sold, and a check would be mailed. Why the extra complexity? I suppose it could be due to some law or technical issue. But in the absence of any knowledge of how the process works, I have to be a cynic and assume they just want to make it as hard as possible for you to get your money back — often a safe assumption. And on top of this, ADP would not talk to me directly. To move my 401K, I had to go through my previous employer. If my last employer, no longer existed, I would have had to call a government agency. They really wanted to make it as hard as possible.

The one day I happened to choose to sell my index fund, the market tanked (a little). In the weeks following, while I waited for the check to arrive at Fidelity, the market shot up. This translates into a few thousand dollars lost immediately for a few percent over several years worth of 401K contributions. To add insult to injury, the amount of the check was approximately $50 less than what had been sitting in my account. It took some time to figure out when and where the $50 disappeared. It certainly wasn’t well advertised. I eventually figured out that it was probably some fee associated with taking money out of my account. I searched through the agreement with ADP — something my company agreed to of course, not me. One brief paragraph mentioned simply that there were fees, but there was no description of the fees or when they were applied.

I ultimately took a gamble and waited for a market correction. I ended up losing perhaps no more than a thousand off my 401K. Crappy, yet better than a few thousand.

My real frustration is that law contributes to financial institutions’ incentives to nickel and dime you with fees. There are a million special purpose accounts — many of them worth only small amounts of money in any given year: HSA, FSA, 401K, IRA, Roth 401K, Roth IRA, pension plans, etc. Each new account creates an abundant number of complex ways to be charged $25 here and $100 dollars there, all on relatively small amounts of money. To opt out is to pay a higher tax rate. And of course, with each new account, they want to make it as hard as humanly possible for you to get your money back out, and usually it’ll cost you.


I moved my Zecco IRA into my Fidelity IRA account. It appears that transaction cost $70 in addition to the $30 yearly fee.

Comment » | Banks Behaving Badly, Undisclosed Fees

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