TeleCheck Sucks

We have auto-draft for our rent. It’s convenient and saves us a bunch of hassle like remember which day is the 1st or which holiday impacts rent’s due date.

Backstory

[Stories that start like this are getting old.] Back in college, I bought some cute socks. My less-that-$10 check was returned by my bank for “account closed”. After many frustrating dealings with TeleCheck and the “collections” people (who called multiple times of day at all hours, were rude/condescending even though I was returning their calls, etc.) I loudly demanded–in a busy lobby, no less–that the bank fix the problem. They did; moments later, I closed the account. I also vowed to never-again shop at a store that “proudly uses” TeleCheck. If I know they use it, I don’t spend money there. I have plenty of other options. [TeleCheck® MISTAKE #1: Believing it is always the customer and it could “never” be the bank’s error. TeleCheck® MISTAKE #2 Not recognizing that if a customer returns calls, she is trying to fix the problem; A hateful tone is not appropriate and will not be tolerated. TeleCheck® MISTAKE #3: Going “Special Forces” on me for a less-than-$10 transaction. Hedge your bets wisely, people.]

Aside

Why do checks even exist, still? Besides thieves, whom are they serving by providing the option to pay by check? I know some people pay bills via check and never changed that habit. My grandparents have never used the Internet and don’t own a computer, but they could Check By Phone to pay bills. We all cringe and moan collectively when we’re in line behind a check writer. Finally, most stores prefer debit/credit cards or cash, and many have eliminated checks altogether.

All These Years Later, TeleCheck Still Sucks

With our new apartment, we wanted the same auto-draft. They offer it, but we were told we’d have to pay in “certified funds” instead. What? I call the “credit” company that the apartment people use, Lexis Nexis. They say I have a history of writing bad checks…as reported by none other than TeleCheck.

I fired off an angry Tweet at BBVA Compass because they used to bounce my good checks all the time. I get an immediate response from Compass and find out that they did no such thing in my closed-for-over-a-year account. The woman who helped me was quite nice and patient and understanding. I thanked her and updated my Twitter feed with the resolution. I wish she’d been available when I needed help before! [TeleCheck® COST ME: a quick Tweet/response, a 30-minute email to explain the problem, and a 30-minute phone call to further clarify and ensure BBVA Compass was not the cause. ]

I contact TeleCheck who tells me that Walmart in McAlester, Oklahoma (pretty sure I’ve never been there) put me down for a hot check. I call and talk to them. $280+ dollars worth was stolen via a bad check. The “perp” used my TX drivers license number as ID for the check. Walmart tells me I can only dispute this with TeleCheck. [TeleCheck® MISTAKE #4: Telling me to contact the Walmart store.]

TELECHECK’S BIG OVERARCHING MISTAKE: NOT VERIFYING THE NAME ON THE CHECK AGAINST THE NAME ASSOCIATED WITH THAT TEXAS DRIVERS’ LICENSE NUMBER. THIS NEVER SHOULD HAVE GONE THROUGH AT ALL!

I check the website, but TeleCheck doesn’t have a form for my particular type of fraud. It wasn’t my checking account, and it wasn’t a typical forgery. I call TeleCheck again. I’m already weary of the scripted “calming phrases” and “robot” accent their customer service reps have. [TeleCheck® MISTAKE #5: I’m certain they are hiring only foreign nationals and/or outsourcing their customer service to another country. Through the whole process, I only talked to one guy who could pronounce English.] Anyway he tells me which form to use. [TeleCheck® COST ME: 1 hour of “research” time.]

I fill it out, drive to my credit union, stand in line, get it notarized, and drive to the post office to mail it to Houston. Next door to my post office, I notice offices for First Data. They own TeleCheck. Ironic, huh? [TeleCheck® MISTAKE #6: Why does this form have to be notarized? Emil just had a similar fraud problem over Xmas and his form didn’t have to be notarized. Why do you impose another errand on me?] [TeleCheck® COST ME: 1 hour of time, 7 miles of driving, one envelope, and one stamp.]

I’m supposed to hear back within ten business days, but I never do, so, on the 12th business day, I call TeleCheck again. Little did I know that I’d spend my entire morning on this mess.

  • No one with a robot accent understands the one most basic and simple fact: I did not write a check. I haven’t written checks in years. I don’t own checks. It’s physically impossible for me to write a check.
  • Robot female Customer Service Rep (CSR) can not explain why I never heard from TeleCheck, but after a verifying every bit of data three times and asking for my first born, claims “it’s updated”. Updated to what? (Updated could just mean she logged my call!) “It’s been updated?” Yes, but what does that mean? “You can write a check.” arrrrrrgggggh After three laps around this conversation, I finally get her to tell me that it’s been “cleared”–or some similar language–from my record at TeleCheck.  Then, I ask her how long it will take to update the credit agencies. She doesn’t understand the question and keeps telling me I can write a check. So, I demand a supervisor. Three times. Apparently, they can’t transfer you until you ask three times.
  • Supervisor Robot Eric #3641 assures me the update is instant and that Lexis Nexis can look at TeleCheck’s records. Now, I’ve worked in enough IT to know that can’t possibly be true for about a million security reasons. Turns out, LN can issue a request and get an almost-instant answer, but they can not access TeleCheck’s records or see their screens or any such nonsense.
  • I call Lexis-Nexis and get the same report. The blip still shows. I tell him, “Y’all need to use someone else. TeleCheck doesn’t know what they are doing.” The LN rep scoffs at my comment. Whatever, Dude. I’m allowed to have an opinion. If one of my vendors treated any of my clients like this, I’d drop them like a hot potato!
  • I call TeleCheck and get stuck in Call Processing Hell. Again, there is no real option for me. I Google for new numbers and try one. I’m told she can’t help me and that I have to call their “only” number. She gives me a number different than the one I called, and I get the same call processing menu. By this point, I’m convinced that they hide company information so customers can’t reach them, only publish “one” number so they can change it in an attempt to hide from the vast array of bad Internet reviews, and finally, (paranoia sets in) that their system flags my number as one that called previously to stick me in a bigger runaround on subsequent calls.
  • When I get through, Male Robot CSR can not help me, either. He tells me the check was from wEEEnoose State Bank and asks if I have an account there. “What did you say? Where? No, it doesn’t matter, I’ve never heard of that bank and have never had an account there.” After some more conversation circling, it occurs to me I need to make sure someone didn’t open an account in my name and ask him to spell the bank. Ennis. Of course. Male Robot CSR insists that it’s “updated”. I explain, “clearly, it isn’t or LN would be able to see the update.” I’m told that Lexis Nexis will need to call TeleCheck to verify the new status. What? And, I’m given the 1-800-366-2425 number.
  • I ask what call processing option they will need to select and I’m told there won’t be one. Sure. I call the number and get the same menu I’ve heard over and over. Lying bastard.
  • I call Ennis State Bank (which does not rhyme with Penoose Fake Lake), where I’m quickly transferred, talked to a very sweet woman who confirms that they have no accounts with either my SSN or DL number. Whew! And, score +1 for small business.
  • I call LN one more time and tell another rep that TeleCheck wants her to call them. Of course, she says they can’t…and even if they could call, they can’t rely on a verbal assurance; they can only rely on what they see on their screens. She pulls it up and sure enough, it’s not updated.
  • I break down in tears. I begin to understand why people are sometimes violent toward businesses. I also tell her, “Y’all have got to find someone else to do business with. They are making you look bad.” I remember that First Data, TeleCheck’s parent company, is right around the corner. She’s kind and listens to me vent and rant while I get dressed for my search for a live human. I thank her for her patience and hang up.
  • Once less angry (but still upset), I drive over there. Gates. Of course. I was about to give up when it opened. The locked door says the receptionist is out today. I am part way through dialing the number for access when someone comes to let me in. I ask to speak to “someone who works with TeleCheck and the way they report to Lexis Nexis.” No one in Austin. Of course. Two women were very nice, but zero help. I explain that the CSRs and Supervisors aren’t trained for my situation and are no help; I ask, “Do you have any contact information for anyone in that department?” Nope. Of course. According to her, all their Customer Service is in Denver. I ask about the Houston office and she says she doesn’t know what they do there. Whatever. I leave in tears. On the way out I notice the parking lot is full of a lot of very nice cars. I don’t know what the Austin office does, but it pays quite well….and that just makes me hate them even more. [TeleCheck® COST ME: 3.5 miles of driving.]
  • I refuse to be beaten by this thievery, so I start over. I figure I’ll just keep calling and pretending it’s a whole new story until I get someone who isn’t a Robot and/or who can understand the problem enough to help. I get Mike #5672 who, at first, I think is going to be the same, but turns out to understand the problem fully, removes the flag from my file, says it’s fixed, and tells me to wait 72 hours. Um. What? Is it fixed or will it be fixed in 72 hours? Clearly, this part of his training was a bit vague, because he can’t clarify. So, I ask for a reference number and get one!
  • One final call to LN….and after sitting on hold again for a very long time, I get the same CSR I had the second time. Before I could even get the beginning of my story out, she cut me off to ask, “What did you say your name was?”…and tells me she’s the same one from before. She types in the application number. Clickity-click-click…and then sweetness pours from her mouth to my ears, “Well all your persistence paid off, my Dear, it’s cleared from your record. Congratulations!” I verify that our new apartment complex won’t have to pay to have it re-run. She says nope.
  • I fire off an email to our Leasing Agent who re-runs her end. All flags cleared! We can now pay our rent like normal people….and not like those stuck in the previous millennium.
  • [TeleCheck® COST ME: 3 hours of time.]

The Invoice

Another Backstory

In ~1999 I was getting far too many phone calls from AT&T asking me to be their long distance carrier. We both had mobile numbers by then and didn’t need long distance, but I couldn’t get them to take my name/number off their list. The “really cool” part was that every caller was someone famous: LaToya, Janet, and Michael (Jackson, I assume) all called multiple times a night and past 9pm. I tried being nice. I resorted to being hateful so they wouldn’t want to call. Nothing worked, and I had had enough.

I called 1-800-555-1212 and asked for the a number for AT&T Accounts Payable. Bingo. I called for their fax number. I invoiced them about $100. I included a log of days/times they called. The invoice was an MS Office template, but I poured on the details (like “services are billed in 15-minute increments”). I never got paid, but I also never got another call from AT&T Long Distance.

Today

So, I’m making an invoice. TeleCheck® cost me:

  • 6 hours of time @$55/hr = $330
  • 10.5 miles of driving @$0.555/mile (2012 IRS rate) = $5.83
  • 1 envelope @$1.49 plus tax = $1.61
  • 1 stamp @$0.45
  • Admin fee (for invoicing paperwork) = $55

Total: $392.89

I certainly don’t expect that TeleCheck will pay this invoice, but if they do, I’ll update this blog and online reviews that they made good on their mistake.

Contact TeleCheck

If you are forced to call their toll free number (1-888-288-0131 or 1-800-366-2425), ask for Mike #5672.

No matter who tells you what, ask for a Reference Number at the end of the call.

If you have to report fraud, the forms are on their site, you’ll have to get them notarized and either fax them or mail them to a PO Box in Houston.

And since I have this information but couldn’t find it anywhere online, if you have a TeleCheck complaint, address it to their office in Houston:

TeleCheck
Consumer Resolution
Office of the President
6th floor
PO Box 4514
Houston, TX 77210-4514

(yeah, sure, the company President cares about complaints;
and, if this is a Texas-owned company, why aren’t they nicer?;
and
I didn’t know you could get multiple-story PO Boxes!)

Update:

In posting my complaint on PlanetFeedback.com, I found the “home office” for TeleCheck.

CEO
Telecheck
5660 New Northside Drive
Atlanta, Georgia
30328

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