Picking up Nickels

Monday, January 08, 2007

Is E*Trade service always this poor?

I've been an E*Trade customer for more than eight years now, and while my experience with their customer service had been pretty positive in the past, it has really been lackluster for the past year or so.

My frustration with E*Trade began in December 2005, when I decided to dump my worst stock pick ever for tax purposes. I submitted my sell order a couple of weeks before the end of the year and my transaction was processed quickly. The settlement date for my whole shares occurred on three days after my trade, but the sale of my partial share (from DRIP purchases) was stuck in limbo.

After several phone calls to E*Trade, I was told that "the back office is very busy due to heavy end of year transaction volume, but we have escalated your request and guarantee that the transaction will appear on your 2005 FORM 1099". I was satisfied with that answer, but was less than pleased when my partial share was liquidated in January 2006 and therefore didn't appear on my 2005 tax records.

Unfortunately, E*Trade decided to stick it to me again in late 2006. For each of the past two months, I have been charged a $10 low balance fee for my E*Trade money market account, even though I have maintained the required average monthly balance. E*Trade has twice credited the fee when I've asked, but the point is that I shouldn't be charged this fee in the first place since I have met their account minimums.

I opened this money market account with Telebank in 1999 (before E*Trade bought them), and while its check writing and fast ACH transfers are convenient, my patience is wearing thin with E*Trade. I've already overlooked an unpleasant encounter with a rude loan officer, being lied to about my partial share liquidation, and two months worth of false account service fees. It's starting to feel like I'm dating a woman that I need to break up with.

So E*Trade, do you think we should start seeing other people?

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