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Goodbye WaMu - Time for Another Bank

January 18, 2009

I just spent an hour on the phone with WaMu and the only way to describe the way I feel is violated.

I have a credit card that is wearing out. It doesn't work as well as it used to and I figured I might as well order a replacement card. It should be no big deal, I just replaced a card with my other WaMu account. What could go wrong?

All new credit cards issued by WaMu feature a system called Tap & Go. It uses magic wireless technology so you just tap your card on a card reader and it instantly processes the transaction. The problem is that RFID technology like this has a fatal flaw. If a card can be read by a machine at a pay point, it can be read by anything that is scanning for that particular RFID technology.

How far fetched does this seem? As an example, lets take a quick look at Wal-Mart. The company has started using RFID tags for their shipments. It's an incredible technology. Once the items are coded into the system at a distribution center, Wal-Mart can follow the merchandise and know which truck it was loaded on, which store received the merchandise, It allows amazing control over inventory. The drawback is that anyone else with the proper equipment can also read the entire contents of that truck as well. If you were a thief and you could scan every truck driving down the road, you could easily read the contents of an entire truck. As far as I know, an actual theft has not taken place, but the technology is in place. It's just a matter of time.

A week ago, I ordered a new card. I specifically requested a card that did not feature Tap & Go RFID and to keep the exact same card numbers. It shouldn't be a problem, I just did the exact same thing with a different WaMu account. I was assured this will not be a problem. So imagine my anger when they sent me a Tap & Go card. So I called up to see if I could straighten out this stupid mess. I was informed that WaMu will not issue a new card with the same number. I asked how come I already did exactly that? I was told that since I already was sent a card, the only way to fix the problem was to cancel all of my credit cards, except for the Tap & Go, leaving me without a working card. If I had just waited, WaMu would send me a replacement card when the defective card expired with the exact same number, but if I ordered the card earlier, I have to get an entirely new number.

I asked to speak to a supervisor because this didn't make sense. So I talked to Jessica who told me I cannot have the same number as the last card. I sensed some sort of stupidity here, because as I explained, I just did the same thing with another WaMu account. She told me it was impossible. So I asked to speak to her supervisor Rachel.

If ever there was someone who should not be a supervisor, it's Rachel. She lectured me and became confrontational almost immediately. She told me she already canceled my first card, so if I wanted a working card, I would need to use the Tap & Go card. I told her I didn't want that. She told me it's too late. I explained my lack of desire for a Tap & Go card and she lectured me there has never been a customer complaint against the card, never been a loss, never been a problem. This from the supervisor of a bank that went out of business because of bad loans after claiming all along it was solvent. I don't trust their decisions. More confrontations ensued until I asked her, "how would you feel right now if you were the customer on the phone dealing with this situation?" I got silence. Then she said, "I would be happy to be banking with WaMu, part of JP Morgan Chase bank."

I was dumbfounded. I didn't want to be difficult, I was just trying to resolve a problem with my credit card and in the process, I as a customer was not going to get my way, which was nothing out of the ordinary. I simply wanted a working card with the same number, same expiration date so I did not have to spend hours updating every direct deposit and direct debit attached to the card number. I have a customer service "professional" who was confrontational, telling me I was wrong and just to be evil gave me a choice, take the Tap & Go card, which I clearly stated from the beginning I never wanted and that I would change banks if forced to use, or have no card access of any kind until the new replacement card arrives. When I tried to explain that I was just trying to do what I did with my other account, she said, "OK, I am canceling all over your cards and hanging up now," muted her phone and let me think she completely screwed me over. Nice customer service. When I asked her not to do that, she waited five seconds, then explained she was on the line and that she was simply trying to do what I wanted. I explained that I never wanted any of this.

In the end, I am stuck with a credit card I did not want, I have to go through and change all of my direct deposits, credits, everything because of incompetence and stupid regulations with Washington Mutual.

I vowed that I would close my accounts and move to a new bank before I would use a Tap & Go. So I am now going to switch to a new bank. WaMu, when we first started banking together, I really liked the way you acted. But I can see a very ugly bank emerging and I as a customer want no part of it.

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