Financially Acting in Haste

Many times I have espoused that if you feel you are not getting the service level you want or you are paying far too much for these services you should simply change your bank or find a different service provider (with phone services, cables services and internet services), however sometimes acting in haste can have some unpredictable consequences, so while you should act, always take a moment and figure out what possible ramifications there might be from you making a sudden change.

I write this remembering a story of my childhood where my Mother first taught me that you must stand up for yourself, however, that can cause unexpected ripples elsewhere in your life.

My Mother is an astounding woman, has worked very hard, and is a very independent person (even now when she is 80+), but this happened when she was much younger. She had gone to her Bank to do some banking (remember this was in the early 1970’s for a timeframe) and many times she had received condescending comments about “shouldn’t your husband be here?” from the Bank Staff (implying that my Mother couldn’t nor shouldn’t be making financial decisions on her own).

At the time my Mother had her own job as a teacher, her own income, her own benefits yet the Bank continued to treat her as a simple appendage of my Father. As a bit of background my Mother got a Statistics degree from University College of London in the early 50’s, when women did NOT get those kind of degrees, so while I would not view her as a Feminazi, she was and is a very strong believer in her rights.

All of this came to an interesting crescendo one day when a Bank teller refused to do a simple transaction for her without my Dad’s signature. The account was a joint account, however, either was allowed to sign for transactions, however this teller would not budge, and refused to let my mother do this simple transfer without my Dad’s signature. For my Mother this was the line in the sand, and she decided she had enough of this.

She thanked the teller, walked away (politely) then went over to the Customer Service desk and asked to close all of her accounts with the bank. My mother could not close any joint accounts, but she did in fact have her own account and a Chargex card with the bank as well, so she closed both of those and came home. The bank didn’t really care, I guess they thoughts it was some overly emotional woman flying off the handle, but my Mother refused to do business with them.

This story in itself would be a good example of standing up for yourself, but it also has an added epilogue which is important to remember too. The next day my Dad went to buy something downtown, didn’t have enough cash with him so he used decided to use his Chargex card, however, that Chargex card was not actually his account, he had a card off my Mother’s Chargex card, and thus the transaction was refused. My Father was not very happy about this, he ended up using one of his own Credit Cards, but when my Mother heard of this, she had a good laugh (my Father was not as amused by this turn of events).

Happy Birthday

The moral of the story: Stand up for your rights, don’t take crap from any service provider, especially your bank, but remember if you make a rash decision,  maybe think about it for a few minutes and figure out what all the ramifications of the decision might be.

Oh and it is my Mother’s birthday this week as well, so Happy Birthday Mum, your influence in much more than you think!


I Blame the Refs!

Previously I have talked about needing someone to blame with C’est La Faute du Federal, but after my current basketball season, I suspect that the real Villains in life are the officials (financially speaking, let’s blame the banks and the people who work there).

I must admit that as a parent, I have spent a fair amount of time “jawing” at the refs and various officials in many sports, and as an assistant coach, I have pestered my fair share of officials too, but at the end of it all, the referees and officials in this life don’t change much (on occasion there are glaring mistakes, but they are very few and very far between).

{Caution off topic rant ahead} Let me first say, that if you are someone who goes to their children’s sporting events, and yells like a crazed mocking-bird at referees, officials, opposing players and coaches and maybe even the janitors at the building, SHAME ON YOU! You have some serious issues living vicariously through your kids and all you are doing is embarrassing  yourself, but more importantly you are embarrassing or alienating your own child (at worst you are teaching them your bad attitude). {Off topic rant completed}

Blind Refs?

I guess the point I am trying to make is that yes the banks and their:

  • Service charges that suck the life out of you.
  • Mortgage rates that pull the marrow out of your bones
  • Credit Cards that are more poisonous (financially) than hemlock
  • etc., etc.,

are really not to blame, we are. Am I back saying Canadians are Financially Stupid? Not in this post (but we can talk more about that later).

The financial problems most Canadians have (and I am saying most to be polite, I actually mean pretty much all of us), are of our own making, so we should stop complaining about the Referees (or the Banks in this case (unless you are a financial blogger, since that is our bread and butter)) and deal with the situation we are in.

Everyone else is dealing with the same Officials (mostly), so move on and play through it (or “suck it up buttercup” to quote a few of the coaches I know).


Bank Card Security (the saga continues)

About 4 years ago my wife’s bank card was fraudulently duplicated and used (to withdraw a significant amount of money from a non-branded “white” banking machine), and back then I wrote a post humbly apologizing to TD Bank (aptly named: TD Bank I Apologize)  saying, that while I dislike their service fees and many of their investment systems annoy me, I must say that their response to that fraud was very good.

Yesterday, we saw that the bank security system is getting even better at detecting frauds, but that fraud is also still going on (even with the new chip technologies, which were supposed to stop this happening).

My wife and I were out shopping and as we checked out at Sobeys my wife attempted to pay for our groceries with her TD Bank card, she tried twice and got the message “Transaction Denied“, which was very disconcerting (since this is how things started 4 years ago), so I tried my card and it worked just fine (which meant we could also eat!). We rushed home to check out our on-line banking, but no transactions appeared that suggested any problems (and we were not over drafted, which was my other concern), so my wife decided to call the TD Help line.

The first thing that suggested something was very wrong was when my wife typed in her card number on the phone, the system took her directly to an Operator stating, “You must talk to a representative immediately“.

After a long conversation where my wife was asked about various transactions that had gone on with her card, she was told that her card had been “frozen” because of a suspicious transaction in New York State (where neither my wife nor I have been to in the past little while).  Since no transaction even showed up (so far) on the on-line banking, I am impressed by the alacrity of TD in dealing with this fraud, however, I am now very concerned about my own cards.

As you know I replaced my TD Card because it was cracked (no not stolen, physically damaged) and inadvertently secured things a bit more (since I got a new card with a new number and such), however there was a story last week that in my area of Ottawa there have been hundreds of folks who have had their bank cards cracked and had moneys stolen from their bank accounts, so I believe I may be going and getting a new debit card myself.

Question of the day: Have you had your credit card or bank card defrauded in the past little while?


Banks: What is with All the Paper?

After yet another visit to my local TD Branch to attempt to extricate money from my daughters’ RESPs, I walked away with the same question I have every time, which is, what is with all the paper?

This time through the Bank Maze, I only had to sign 2 forms (but that is 4 signatures, because I have to get a copy of these forms too, and I must sign those), and then I had to sign two forms that had not been filled in, but would be done later (I kid you not), two more signatures for that. I wondered what might have happened if I walked in with a rubber stamp of my signature and used that, what the “Financial Planner” might do (my guess is, ask if she can borrow it and she might then bang out another 10 forms for various types).

Why did I need to kill so many (more) trees? I was closing two RESPs, and then asking about another one (you sign a form to get information?!?), that is all. I should warn the B.C. forests that I might be going to the bank (so they can fall a few more Giant Red Wood for all the forms).

Banks seem to be absolutely in love with paper trails, with:

  • Cheques, those alone must wipe out acres of trees every year
  • Forms for every kind of transaction
  • Pass Books
  • Receipts for every transaction
  • Paper Statements
  • etc., etc., etc.,

My guess would be that the banks don’t actually have thousands of Warehouses where all this paper is stored, what actually happens is the papers are scanned, and then destroyed, so we are now killing trees for no reason? Banks are also encouraging their clients to stop getting paper statements (where encouraging means charging you for paper statements).

Anyone working in the banking industry care to explain to me the love of paper, and whether all of these forms and such are actually stored in hard copy, or whether they are actually stored digitally?



St. Valentine’s Day Financial Massacre

Today can effectively be for some of us effectively a recreation of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, in terms of our Credit Cards.

This one is an interested twisted tail to follow, so I’ll try to not wander down too many dark alleys, but it is this simple, right about now (February 14th) the Credit Card bills are arriving for the stuff you bought after Christmas (or stuff that didn’t make it into your Christmas bill, which would have shown up in January).

How bad could that be? Who spends lots of money after Christmas? You do!!


Valentine's Day Sentiments to Live By

Remember that big screen TV that you got for 40% off at the Boxing Day Sale? How about all that stuff that was on sale for Boxing Week/Month/Quarter? There is a tremendous amount of money spent after Christmas, and you might have planned for your Christmas spending splurge, but did you plan for your January spending binge? My guess is no (and if you didn’t have a post-Christmas spending binge, good on you (but are you sure?)).

In my house my daughter’s tuition appears on my Credit Card (we still have money to pay that off so that is good), but it is a HUGE number to appear for St. Valentine’s day, isn’t it?

Oh and all those, “live now, pay later” deals you got from the Furniture Mega-Store or the Electronics Mega-Store all have to start getting paid off now too. Future Shop’s new “don’t pay for 3 months” has a new catch, yes, you don’t have to pay it all in 3 months, but now you have to pay at least 1/3 every month leading up to the payment.

Are you now feeling the effects of a Saint Valentine’s Day financial Massacre?


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