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ETrade Bank Customer Service:

I'm having trouble with a new CD account I tried to open with ETrade Bank via the Internet. I called customer service, and, after getting a message that my wait time would be five minutes, I've now been on hold for forty-seven minutes. An individual I spoke to previously at ETrade financial said there is no record in their system of my name or social security number. I know I'm not imagining that I opened an account, because I wrote down my account name and password.

UPDATE: Fifty-seven minutes on hold, and another ten minutes for the customer service rep to figure out that they have no idea what happened to my account. I'm taking my banking business elsewhere.

Steve:
Isn't it great to have a blog? I should have a blog.
3.8.2006 10:19am
Anomolous (mail) (www):
E*Trade customer service stinks. Every time I've had to call them, I've had a horrible experience. In fact, I just had to wait on hold for 50+ minutes *twice* just to cancel my account. The lame excuse they gave me for the hold times? It's tax season. Why did I have to call them twice? Well, I decided to close my account, and I sold my stock. Then I look for a "Close Account" button. Strange, but I couldn't seem to find one. So I preform a search for the "Close Account" button. Ah, here it is buried deep within their help system. I click it and I'm redirected to a page that says I have to call Customer Service in order to cancel an account. Argh. So I call. And wait. I tell the Representative that I'm closing my account. He starts typing my info into his computer (so they have a computerized "Close Account" function after all) and exclaims, "Uh, oh. You just sold some stock, didn't you."

"Why, yes", I replied.

"But you need to wait three days for accounts to settle."

"Sure," I said, "just close my account, and cut me a check when every transaction is completed."

"Oh, no, we can't do that. You'll have to call us back in 3 days"

<expletives deleted>

All that, for something that should have been a 30 second form to fill out online. This was supposed to be an online company, right? What's the "E" in E*Trade supposed to stand for anyway? Heck, if nothing else, why can't I leave a message and have them call me back when they get free? I'd look for greener pastures, if I were you.
3.8.2006 10:22am
BossPup (mail):
David, you should check this out while you are on hold. According to the people on Fatwallet, the customer service over at Etrade is atrocious. The first poster writes that he always has to wait at least thirty minutes to talk to someone.

I would check out some of the alternative companies recommended in the thread. From what I gather, Etrade has always been pretty bad, but now it is becoming unbearable.
3.8.2006 10:30am
Anon E Moose:
I had a similar problem opening an account at HSBC Direct (to take advantage of a teaser rate on new deposits). I quickly learned from trying to deposit a $25 opening seed balance into the account that they are quite stunted with handling EFT transactions. I decided my money was better elsewhere. Trying to close the account, I was told there would be a $25 fee for closing the account in less than 6 mos. There was no minimum balance, however. It was slow, but possible to transfer $24.99 right back out where it came from. I hope I remember to close the account later this year.

Moral of the sotry is that online customer service is demanding, even more so than brick &mortar. Like brick &mortar, quality varies widely.
3.8.2006 10:35am
George:
The other day I stubbed my toe. Boy, did it hurt! I mean, really, it hurt. But then over time it began to feel better. After a day or two, I barely felt anything!!!! Isn't that interesting?
3.8.2006 10:35am
Anon1ms (mail):
And I went to Dairy Queen and they didn't put enough sprinkles on my ice cream.
3.8.2006 10:40am
RBH (mail):
It seems that others have had a similar experience with eTrade:

http://www.rateitall.com/i-18935-etrade.aspx

David's post and the results (like the one above) from a Google search on eTrade were not promising. I suspect one can find a few negative on-line reviews of most financial service companies, but these reviews (and the complaints) are consistent enough for me to be very wary. I'd like to use a service like eTrade, but I won't use one unless I'm convinced it has reliable customer service.
3.8.2006 10:44am
KA:
I recommend INGDirect - they are great. never had any problems with service. ever. If you want a great/cheap brokerage - check out foliofn.com. (allows you to basically create your own mutual fund - only makes sense, however, if your account has 50K+).
3.8.2006 10:54am
llamasex (mail) (www):
I personally like posts like these (as long as they are spread out). Not only do they give me a heads up, I think they put companies on their toes to keep customer service levels up, as they don't know who could bitch to 10,000 people about them.

Anomolous, I can't stand not being able to close an account. When I had a hosted website which I no longer wanted, the hosting company only had one person able to cancel accounts and she wasn't answering her phone. I got overly pissed off and perhaps overreacted, but I had spent 40 minutes on hold with no result only to be disconnected. I took to calling sales (Sales always answers the phone quickly :) ) over and over (around 20 times maybe) till they put me in touch with the lady. I am sure it annoyed the hell out of the sales folks. I don't have any guilt about bothering them though.
3.8.2006 11:21am
Michael Eisenberg (mail):
I called E-Trade and had to wait over an hour when I tried to open a CD. I inadvertanly specified "wire transfer" when I meant to transfer from an account. The system allowed me to choose my bank account, enter in an amount to transfer and allow to believe that money would be transferred. Then I got an email telling me that my password would be emailed in one business day. After several days and an hour and forty five minutes (the first time I called I was 45 minutes on hold before I had to tend soemthing that came up and had to hang up and call back later) I was told I was never going to receive my password, because I had selected "wire transfer". Not good service, but it's still better than WAMU where it took the accounts person over an hour to open a simple IRA for me, not including any prior waiting in line.
3.8.2006 11:25am
ac britzer (mail):
Ironic, isn't it. Your post was right next to an ad for HSBC, which would have been a logical next choice to try. But then there was the negative comment about them!
3.8.2006 11:31am
moonfall (www):
What KA said - ING rocks!
3.8.2006 11:38am
rwpotter (mail):
I'm leery of sites that rate services (and other things) if nothing else because people with complaints tend to be interested in loudly voicing their grievances whereas those with compliments generally keep them to themselves. The result is a forum where the negative responses outweigh the positives regardless of the underlying services.

That said, I was thinking of reopening my E*Trade account to have access to options again and this post will make me think twice and re-review their services.
3.8.2006 11:57am
Gordo:

I'm taking my banking business elsewhere.

It sounds like Etrade has already taken your money elsewhere!
3.8.2006 11:59am
Jim Hu:
I have an Etrade account and have zero experience with their customer service...I hesitate to even try phone customer service for almost anything, because I hate being on hold. I wouldn't have lasted so long...I would have tried to resolve the issue by email.

But for actual banking I go to...a bank. You know, the physical kind where instead of being on hold you wait in line for a human teller.

I must be a Luddite.
3.8.2006 12:44pm
cld:
I used to work for an Internet Service Provider and we wouldn't let customers cancel accounts online either. The reasoning is if we can get you on the phone we had the opprotunity to "Save" the customer. On a side note, we didn't have wait times like those described above either.
3.8.2006 12:45pm
bode:
FWIW I have had Internet banking accounts with E*Trade Bank, ING and MetLife. I've talked to customer service at all 3 and received more or less similar results. I closed my E*Trade bank account about 9 months ago, and didn't have a problem talking to them over the phone. I probably spoke to E*Trade over the phone once every 9 months, and never experienced that.

I also have brokerage accounts with E*Trade and Schwab, and consider the level of service at both to be essentially equal. Usually on hold about 5 minutes.

I also recommend email for normal business matters. It's what they're optimized for.
3.8.2006 1:02pm
Le Messurier (mail):
David Bernstein

You may take your business elsewhere, but you have already given them your identity. Now pray that they, or someone there at e-trade, or a hacker, doesn't mis-use (as in "steal") it. As a commercial and international banker for 20+ years it amazes me that people like you and the commenters and thousands of others entrust their identity to the internet. Think about it... Microsoft cant't design/build a secure operating system. What makes you think e-trade; schwab, or anyone else can build secure software to move your money around? I wouldn't use on-line banking; on-line stock trades; or on-line just about anything except credit card transactions under $50.00 (maximum bank liability)for all the lawyers in H*ll!

Good luck and may your identity always belong to you and no one else:)
3.8.2006 2:56pm
DBH:
I had to fire etrade a few years back. Few things about the company are stellar except the marketing. I also had a hassle closing my account. I was particularly chapped when told about some sort of closing fee. My response was to simply withdraw all the funds from the account and then send over a notice closing my account.

Why is the company a train wreck? I found the answer with the past CEOs employment contract. A fish rots from the head down.

Findlaw has the document online.
http://contracts.corporate.findlaw.com/agreements/
etrade/cotsakos.emp.2001.08.27.html
3.8.2006 3:43pm
Le Messurier (mail):
DBH

You're right about the fish, but somebody in addition to the executive is responsible for this highway robbery. And what a hoot that employment contract is! I particularly like the part where it says that "The Employee's employment shall terminate in the event of death." The intellectual depth of the lawyer's composition of this document astounds me.
3.8.2006 5:30pm
Jim T:
I particularly like the part where it says that "The Employee's employment shall terminate in the event of death." The intellectual depth of the lawyer's composition of this document astounds me.


While I'm not in any way defending ETrade, that section strikes me as a response to some moronic suit filed to collect the pay of someone who died... because they were never fired. It's similar to the "Caution - this item can cause burns" labels on irons, etc.
3.8.2006 8:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
You can always get another Broker to do the transfer for you. You should not sell your stocks just to because you want a new Brokerage house as the sale has tax consequences.

Before I sign up with anything new, I first try their customer service line a few times to see how long I have to wait. I hate waiting.

My daughter did a legal internship last year at the SEC. She attended a seminar on Internet security. The speaker warned the audience. Don't use Internet Banking, don't use on-line broker accounts. You can lose a lot of money and have a really hard time getting it back—if you get it back.

Finally say this to yourself over and over—"Your broker is not your friend!"
3.9.2006 12:55am