This week I have been trying, multiple times, to change the address and phone number on my Bank of America account. You’d think that would be fairly straightforward, wouldn’t you?
First I tried to make the changes online, but could not enter any edited data. So, I tried the chat line. The chat person was friendly, but ultimately unable to help me. Apparently, the primary address information can only be changed by talking to an account specialist. A person. Over the phone.
OK, I thought. I can do that. Ha! How naive I was.
In order to talk to an account specialist, I had to navigate the minefield that is the bank’s telephone menu-and-marketing-tool. First, the robot wanted to know my account number but it didn’t recognize the number I quoted from my online account. Bewildered, I kept trying, running my finger along the onscreen digits. It turns out the robot doesn’t like it when a number is preceded by two zeros.
Then, whenever I said that I wanted to change my address, the robot told me to go online. My screaming into the phone that I had already tried this unsuccessfully (or words to that effect) fell on deaf robot ears.
This happened more than once, so I went back to the chat line to explain my dilemma. The chat person suggested that I press 0 and ask for an account specialist.
It took a couple of attempts, but that technique was eventually successful. Actually, to be specific, the word “person” was more successful that the words “account specialist.”
Once I was actually talking to a human, my attempt to change my information depended upon my answers to a number of questions including the number on the back of my debit card and the number of kilometres to the moon. (I’m joking, of course. Americans don’t use kilometres.) One question was the number of my passport, so I dug out my passport and read out the number.
Nope. Wrong number. . . . What?? I only have one passport and that is the number. Perhaps there is a visa number, the person suggested. Then I started to look on every page and I read out every number I found. None of them was the sought-after number.
When that failed, the account specialist asked me to access my old iPhone 7 (the one I had when I once updated the account), fire it up, reactivate the settings and be ready to receive his bat-signal. When my efforts took longer than two minutes, he abandoned that solution. By this time I had developed an impotent rage and bid farewell to the one and only bank employee I had actually been able to talk with.
About an hour after I had hung up it dawned on me that I had opened the account in 2008 and had used the passport that was current at that time. It was renewed in 2017. Fortunately, I keep old passports because I don’t know how to safely discard them, and I was able to find it in my file of miscellaneous certificates. It was comfortably nesting beside a square dancing certificate from 1979 and my late husband’s record of employment. You never know when you might need these things.
I gave myself a day off from trying to communicate with the Bank of America, and then tried again this morning. From my past experience I had learned not to use the word “address” or “change” or “account” because that would only send me to a menu option that would dump me out. So, instead I said to the robot that I wanted to speak to a “person” about “personal information”. That worked.
After the obligatory wait time “because we have unusually high volumes” of people trying to get through, I was able to talk to a bank employee. (By the way, Bank of America, it isn’t unusual if it has been going on for years.) I didn’t even try to explain my problems to her, I just answered her questions with an out-of-date passport number, the last four digits of my tax ID number, the number on the back of my debit card, and the name of the last person to whom I wrote a cheque. At long last, the address and phone number were updated.
I would suggest to Bank of America that their telephone menu system is not user-friendly, has rage-inducing marketing spots, and is ultimately unworkable for issues such as mine. Passing on those suggestions, however, would require calling someone. I’ll let you guess how likely that is.