Friday, October 29, 2004

Look, if you don't want to lose money, buy a piggy bank, okay?

As you may or may not know, I left the big call center of NABABNA (regular banking) to work in a smaller call center of NABABNA (stocks). In the banking call center, I was a supervisor. Now I am not. This is a good thing because my stress level has gone down a lot (buh-bye, four hours a day of escalated and “How do I do this again? I know you’ve told me 20 times before but I just don’t get it” calls). I wondered if I would ever have that perfect post for Moron Mouth again because I wouldn’t have people screaming at me about their overdraft fees anymore. But wonder of wonders, I have Moron Mouth material for you tonight.

Here’s the thing. I know that our loyal readers are intelligent, banking savvy people. Or they are bitter customer service representatives that are looking for a laugh to brighten up another horrific day of waiting on customers. Either way, I’m going to pretend that you’re not you and you’re actually someone who has never invested in stocks before. Okay? defines stocks as lots of other stuff and then this:

a. The capital or fund that a corporation raises through the sale of shares entitling the stockholder to dividends and to other rights of ownership, such as voting rights.
b. The number of shares that each stockholder possesses.
c. A stock certificate.
d. The part of a tally or record of account formerly given to a creditor.
e. A debt symbolized by a tally.

Breaking it down into plain English, pretty much what this means is you give money to someone, they give you a piece of paper and, if you’re lucky, it’ll someday be worth something. What does this mean to you? It means that the piece of paper you have might be worth something. Or not. The stock market is volatile, a lovely word that means “likes to jump around a lot to really piss you off.” No, that is not a definition that I got from That is my own fun definition. Hope you like it.

So who should invest in the stock market? Here’s a thought. People that are not relying on their investment to make money for them. People that can accept the fact that they may lose money. People who are not susceptible to heart attacks. People who are not frickin’ old! Old people keep calling me. I’m getting sick of them. Granted, I can understand that it’s frustrating to lose money. I don’t enjoy it myself.

Anyway, here you go. Here are some of the calls I’ve dealt with in the last week.

Example #1 – Big Company decided to create another company. They “spun-off” (look, corporate lingo!) Big Company 2. For every single piece of stock, Granpa had in Big Company, he gets a piece of stock in Big Company 2. So you’d think he’d be happy, huh? Well, no. He’s not happy. And that’s because Big Company also decided to do a reverse split. For every 2 pieces of stock he had, he’s going to get 1 of the new stock of Big Company. And who’s fault is that? Is it the board of directors for making this decision? No. It’s mine. Because I work for a 3rd party company that was hired by the board of directors to answer the phone every time Grandpa calls to explain to him how to process this change.

G (Grandpa): I’m not happy about this.
DM: I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Is there anything that I can help you with about how to process the exchange?
G: Why did this happen?
DM: What, sir?
G: This “reverse split!” (Said, of course, as though he would have said “Leper Colony")
DM: Usually a reverse split is a decision made by the board of directors to attempt to make the price of the stock higher and more appealing.
G: Well, I’m not happy about it.
DM: I’m sorry about that. Was there anything else I could do for you?
G: I want you to take a message.
DM: Okay?
G: I want you to tell your boss that I’m not happy about this.
DM: Sir, I work for Shareowner Services. We are not the board of directors.
G: I don’t care who you are. You tell them that I’m not happy!
DM: Okay. Thanks for calling.

Seriously. Dude. What do you want me to do? Call the board of directors? I can only do so much. Want me to change your address? It’s done. Take on the board of directors? They don’t pay me enough.

Example #2 – It’s getting close to tax time. Jane Doe sold her stock this year and, all of a sudden, she has realized that she has to do a cost basis for the IRS. What is a cost basis? Your guess is as good as mine. I think it has something to do with the fact that if you’ve made money on the sale of your stock, the government has a right to swoop in and steal all the proceeds. I could be wrong though. Anyway, we don’t figure this out. Pretty much what you do is you figure out how much you paid for the stocks and how much you sold them for. We don’t have that information. You should have that information because you are the one that paid for the stocks in the first place. Right? That makes sense, doesn’t it? Not according to these people.

JD (Jane Doe): I would like information about my account. Here is my social security number. 123456789. My account is inactive.
DM: I’m sorry. I didn’t pull up any information.
JD: Here is my account number. 1234567890.
DM: Okay, I’m still not finding anything. Do you have a certificate number? I could try that.
JD: I do not have a certificate. My account is inactive. It has been inactive since 2001.
DM: I’m sorry. I’m not pulling up any information. Let me provide you with a number (I am assuming, after asking her some other questions, that her account has been escheated and the state now has her property).
JD: I don’t want to take another number. I want to know my cost basis.
DM: Ma’am, you’ve told me that your account is inactive and that may mean that the state now has your property. If you would like to claim it…
JD: What do you mean, claim my property? I don’t want to claim it. It is not lost. I pulled my stocks away from you in 2001. I gave them to Large Broker Chain.
DM: Oh. Okay. Do you mind if I place you on hold while I look into this?
JD: Why are you putting me on hold? I want my information.
DM: Yes, I understand that. However, I am not able to locate your account and I’d like to look into this.
JD: Fine.

I put her on hold. I run (well, walk briskly) to the manager of the day (which is a silly description because, seriously, this changes every five minutes. I swear) and tell her my dilemna.

DM: Lady. On phone. Says she has account. Inactive since 2001. Went to Large Broker Chain. I can’t pull up information. What do I do? (Combination of “I can’t breathe because of walking briskly” and “Quick! Give me an answer!”)
MOD: Okay. What’s the company?

I tell her. She looks up some information. She gives me a whole bunch of stuff to say to Jane Doe which boils down to “Send us a letter and a check and we’ll look into finding you your old statements because you were too stupid to hold onto them in the first place. Moron.”

DM: Ma’am? Thank you for holding (I give her the information the MOD gave to me).
JD: What?
DM: I repeat the information.
JD: Why do I have to do that? You should have my information.
DM: I’m sorry, ma’am. I do not have that information. If you follow these instructions, we will certainly send you your statements.
JD: I want to talk to someone about this.
DM: I’m sorry?
JD: Who do I talk to about this? Who can give me my information?
DM: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but we have the same systems. We do not have your information on file but can certainly find the duplicate statements.
JD: This is bad customer service. What would happen if I come in there? Who should I ask for?
DM: Ma’am, that really won’t help you. The best thing to do would be to send in this information and a check…
JD: I want to speak to a manager. Give me a name of someone I can speak to when I come there.
DM: I don’t have a name for you, ma’am. They will not be able to give you this information.
JD: Fine. I’m coming in. I will just ask for a manager.

She hangs up. I go back to the MOD.

DM: Should I be concerned because she now wants to come in and speak to a manager because it’s bad customer service that we don’t have her account information?
MOD: Tell her the SEC only requires we keep the information on our computer system for one year and the records for seven.
DM: She’s gone.
MOD: Oh (She laughs). Is she crazy?
DM: I certainly think so. We have provided her bad customer service. One year? Wow.
MOD: I wouldn’t worry about it but you might want to tell Grissom (No, not really his name. Trying to think of a good fake name and I’m stuck on CSI:) that she might stop by.

Anyway, that’s the majority of my calls. Old people who are upset that their stock isn’t making any money for them and other people who throw away their statements (which, incidentally, are printed: Please retain for your records) and then get upset because we can’t just hand them over to them.

And one guy called me “You People” five times in two minutes. I’m sure I’ll have more for you in a week or two. Just give it time. The stock market is sure to dip again.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Money doesn't grow on trees, it grows at a bank, unless the tree is a bank, and then there's a dilemma.

After a much needed break from NABABNA, I returned to work today to a pile of quality assurance calls. Ah, the wonderfulness of horrid grammar and angry customers was classic.

I was reminded of another grammar issue in one of the calls that I forgot in the post Grammar people! Grammar! It is important.

Dana, this one is going to bring back a memory or two.

The word I came across tonight was, "Branching," as in a branching location.

In banking, the term should be "banking location" or "branch location". If we use the word branching, we would be adding locations, not referring to the existing ones.

I just wanted to ask the banker, "Are we a tree now?"

I know it's a short post, I just had to share.