How Bad Are Things When the Crisis Hotline Calls You?

There is a crossed wire (or something like that for digital phone) in our phone system somewhere.

Last night Husband and I were watching the Florida State-Miami game and the phone rang. The Caller ID did not display a number, but we’ve been getting lots of political calls lately. I answered the phone and heard, “…press one for emergency response, press 2 for …”. How odd. I hung up the phone.

Twenty minutes later it happened again.

It was happening every 20 minutes or so last night, as if I had called them (which I did not) and clicked over to take another call and they never hung up. Why was the county calling me? What was Husband doing when I wasn’t at home???

So I pressed a number and was connected to the Crisis Hotline. How apropos. “Have I got a crisis for you, ” I deadpanned. I briefly explained the situation, telling the counselor that mine was not the type of crisis they specialized in, but if they’d please hang up on me – something they are trained NOT to do, my own little crisis might just be solved. The woman was slightly confused, but did as I asked. And the problem was solved…

…until 5:45 this morning, when it happened again. I was having a lovely dream involving things I cannot recall when the phone rang. Eyeing the clock as I reached for the phone, my sleep-muddled brain first registered alarm, and a fear that Something Terrible must have happened if I was getting a call so early. I was relieved but irritated to hear, “…press eight for non-emergency response…”

Again I pressed a # and asked them to hang up, and they did.

10 minutes later, another call. This time they said they were not having this problem with anyone else. So I called Comcast, who provides our digital voice service.

“Just let me reset your system, ” said the technician. I know they reset it only because there was no answer when a moment later I said, “Hello? Hello?”  I’d lost service in the middle of the call. Apparently he could not be bothered to say, “In a moment I’m going to reset the system. That will mean we will lose contact. That’s how you’ll know it is reset. This should take care of the problem, but if you have any questions please call back.”

Great! That was an easy fix. I snuggle back into the covers and…

Ten minutes later another call.

By this time some of the shine has rubbed off of my sunny disposition. And Husband? Not pleased. I once again called Comcast and they told me they’d “…open a ticket…”. Someone will contact me in one to two days. Greaaaaaaaaaaat.

We’ve only had one call since. And thank goodness. If they call me tomorrow at 5:45am I might need to call that Crisis Hotline back…

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Bank Fee Phobia

I hate paying bank fees. The way I see it they get to use my money to make themselves more money, so unless I bounce a check they should just be content with me being a silent partner.

I have free checking. I only use my ATM card at my bank’s machines. I never withdraw money more than six times per month from my Money Market account. I follow the rules, or so I thought.

This morning I went online to check and see if my economic stimulus check was received yet (and no, it wasn’t) and I noticed a $5 service fee deducted from my savings account.

I called the bank to inquire. Apparently I had dipped below the minimum daily balance of $250 for one day and so the fee was imposed. She immediately offered to waive the fee. I appreciated that, but the bigger issue is why I cannot get a savings account with no minimum balance. This account had been a no-minimum account until about two years before, and when they announced the switch they offered no alternative. Ever since I have stress about daily balances that I do not want or need.

Given the number of accounts I have at that bank I was not inclined to go through the rigmarole of researching another bank and moving my accounts, so I’d stayed put. I just hated always having to make sure there was $250 in that account, and it had finally come back to bite me in the tush.

As I’m on the phone with the bank and mentioning my chagrin about the lack of a no-minimum-balance account she told me that they’d just come out with a new account for which there was only a $1 minimum balance. When I asked her what the difference was between the two accounts she said just the minimum balance requirement.

That just didn’t make sense to me. Why would the bank make a new type of account that was identical to the account I had now except for the minimum balance requirement? I asked her to check again. I didn’t want to find out later that in order to get the $1 minimum balance account I had to give up online banking, or sweep the lobby, or get the name of the bank tattooed on my ass (which, trust me, would not be a good advertising venue). She put me on hold to check with…someone…and came back confirming that there is no other difference.  They call the new account a Heritage account, but I think a better name would be the Throw Fee Phobic Customers A Bone Account.  Whatever.

After being reassured that my automatic debits would still go through (I didn’t have to contact my vendors because my account number will stay the same) I had her make the switch.

I documented everything we discussed in my new “What They Told Me” file, and went about my day.

Really, it’s a relief. I hate worrying about minimum balances. And I hate paying fees even more. And if my account ever falls below one dollar I will deserve a service fee. Almost.

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