Friday, February 11, 2005

Welcome to Tax Season AKA Hell

Okay, I had to share this with you all. Today was somewhat busy, not too major. Friday's are usually a little bit slower than the rest of the week. Mondays are hell. Everyone is cranky because they've been holding forever (well, they think it's forever. It's more like 20 minutes or so) and dammit, why can't we give them their cost basis?

I've mentioned this before - I work for NABABNA's Stock Transfer Department. It's a nice job and I enjoy it but I have finally realized that there is something out there that may be just as horrible as overdraft calls. I couldn't believe it but it's true. No, seriously.

Imagine, if you will, that you hold stock with a company. We'll say it's Big Business. Well, Big Business doesn't want to keep track of all the people that hold stock so they hire a company to take care of it for them. A transfer agent, if you will. So you have stock and occasionally, you'll get a statement whenever a transaction takes place. Here is an example of what the statement might say.


John F and Mary J Doe JT TEN
111 Don't Have A Clue Drive
Idiotsville, CA 11111

Company of Stock - Big Business

12/11/04 - Purchase of Stock - $500.00 - Number of shares - 5.25

Okay, it's rough but you get the idea, right?

So what do you do if you are John and Mary Doe? You've been getting these statements since 1953, when you first started investing in Teeny Tiny Business which merged with Small Business and changed their name to Somewhat Larger Business and then had a reverse split and spun off Miniscule Business and then took over Little Business and changed their name to Big Business. Well, you throw them away, of course! Why would you keep those statements?

A smart investor knows why you keep these statements. That is because they read the information on the top of the statement in the bold letters that said:


So stock holders go to their tax consultant or try to file their taxes at home and they've been calling us. Calling us until we want to just cry when the battle cry sounds "What's my cost basis?" Because we know we're in for a fight when we explain that a) we're a transfer agent and as a transfer agent we are responsible for providing records and not tax advice and b) hey, guess what, there's going to be a charge for those statements you blithely threw away, 10 or 15 dollars a year. People don't like that. So most of my calls have been people screaming at me. Nothing really exciting. Just "why can't you give me this information?" and "I think the company is responsible for figuring this information out (because yeah, it's in the prospectus that we're going to do your taxes for you. What universe are you living in? I know it's not the one I'm the Queen of)."

But today, I got a call that made me laugh. And I told Keem, who was also having a crappy day and she laughed. So I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy. As always, my comments are in italics.

DM (Me): Thank you for calling Stock Transfer Services. This is Dana. How may I help you?
Little Old Lady (LOL): This is Blahdey Blah Blah (She says this very fast. I can't understand her name at all). Do you need my Social Security Number?
DM: That would be great.

The next thing I hear is, you guessed it, beeps. You may remember the post I did about when old people and automated systems meet.

LOL: Beep boop beep (as she keys in her social security number).
DM: Ma'am. Ma'am, if you enter...
LOL: Bahp beep boap (keeps going. Can't hear me).
DM: (Sighs deeply)
LOL: Beepbeeeeeeep Beep.
DM: Ma'am? I'm sorry but if you enter your Social Security Number into the phone when you're talking to me, I won't receive the information. Would you please provide me with the number?
LOL: Okay.

There is a slight pause. I hear some rustling.

LOL: 4.

I wait for her to continue. There is more rustling. As Keem said, when I was telling her in the car, "Wait! She just entered it into the phone! Did she lose it that quickly?"

There is a long pause. Did she die? What happened to her?

DM: Ma'am?
LOL: Yes?
DM: You were going to give me your Social Security Number.
LOL (indignant): I DID give it to you.
DM: Nooooo, you gave me the number 4.
LOL: Fine. 123-45-6789.

You can see that 4 and her SSN had nothing in common. Oh, except for that one number!

Just a normal day in Hell. Hope you enjoyed your visit.


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