By Judi Curry
I have been hosting foreign language students for the past 20 years. My first student was in April of 1992 and to date I have had 401 students living with me for a variety of weeks, months and/or years. Each of these students has come to the United States with a substantial sum of money, and all of the students have needed to open up checking/ATM accounts at a bank in the area.
Because these students do not have social security numbers, they have to open up checking accounts and not savings accounts. This doesn’t make much difference to them, because all they want to do is to have access to the ATM machines so they have a supply of money available at all times.
Because we live in Ocean Beach and Chase Bank is only a mile away, I suggested to Marco, my student from Switzerland, that he open an account there. The fact that there is a Chase Bank across from his school also makes the account easily accessible, either from school or home.
He went to the bank with my handyman Warren, and opened up his account. Because he is a foreign student in our country, he had to have with him a form (I20) that designated that he was here for the purpose of going to school. No problem for identification, but the banker he worked with said it was necessary to have it on his records because that is the reason he is in the United States.
Marco also gave him my address – after all – that is where he gets his mail, as well as his Switzerland address. Hell, all this young man wants to do is to be able to take HIS money out of HIS account when it is needed. He was told that checks and a debit card would be sent to him shortly.
Today he got the debit card, BUT his name was spelled incorrectly as was the spelling of his name on the account. I assume that Marco knows how to spell his own name, so the banker must have inputted it wrong. Secondly, a few pages of checks came with it, using the SCHOOL ADDRESS and not the address where he is living. When he went to activate the card, it was rejected because there was no record of the name – (whose fault was that?) – and the address he gave them – where he is living – was not the address assigned to the account.
I tried to activate the card for him and was switched to a live person, who told me there was nothing that she could do about it; that he would have to go to the bank with the proper I.D. to change the errors. I then spoke to a supervisor who, at first, told me the same thing, and then changed his tune when I told him I was a reporter for two papers and I would write this episode up. He then told me that Marco COULD take care of it over the phone, but it would be awhile to process it before he would receive his debit card. I asked him if Marco went to the bank would he be given a new correct card immediately, and the supervisor told me yes.
I then called the bank and spoke to the very banker that made the error in the first place. He said that because Marco was a foreign student the school address would have to remain on the account. He said that the “mailing address” could be different, and I asked him why the school’s address was on Marco’s checks. He said he could change that and make the address the “living address.”
I couldn’t resist pointing out to him that the error was his – not Marco’s; that today was “Good Friday” and Marco had other things planned for today. Instead of doing those things, he needed to get to the bank before it closed so that he could have rectified the error caused by the banker in order to have money for the weekend.
So let’s fast forward – Marco went to the OB Branch; went to the same person that signed him up. Was told that his new Debit card would be sent out immediately; wouldn’t have it for the weekend, but maybe Monday or Tuesday.
Tuesday the card came and when we went to activate it – guess what? The information that the computer voice had was not the same information that was on Marco’s card. We had to speak to a live person – Irene – by name. We went through all the same information that we had done last week; she asked all the same questions; Told us that even though the address had been changed the official address was still his school; asked if it could be changed back to that on his account. We said “no”. We didn’t want any bank information being sent to the school because it might get lost.
After 45 minutes Irene managed to get everything correct, and Marco’s card was activated. As he plans to go to Las Vegas this weekend, I suggested that maybe it shouldn’t have been activated; he might come home with nothing in his account. He’s willing to take the chance, BUT he is also looking to change banks upon his return.
Inefficiency seems to reign supreme at Chase Bank – and, particularly, in Ocean Beach.