Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Unemployment + Chase Bank = Hell on Wheels

LOL! I just KNEW it!

As you may recall, my beloved employer, the Great Desert University, did its level best to ameliorate the pain of the unpaid furlough days it’s forcing us all to take by entering a Shared Work arrangement with the Unemployment Insurance Service.

This sounds great…on paper.Reality is a slightly different matter.

Although UI will, in due course, direct-deposit your money to a bank account of your choice, the first payment defaults to a debit card with Chase Bank.

Can you spell sweetheart deal, boys and girls?

I don’t use debit cards; I don’t want to use a debit card; I just want to get the $48 that allegedly has been deposited to this card out of Chase Bank and into my sweaty little paws, so I can carry it to the credit union and deposit it to a savings account, where it and the promised future direct deposits can sit until we see whether I get laid off or not. So, here’s what happens when I try to extract said munificent sum:

Dear ASK HR:

The debit card from Chase came in the mail, issued in response to the request for Shared Work payment for furlough days. I called the phone number on the information that came with the card. After about 15 minutes of jumping through punch-a-button hoops, I validated the card and got the access number and the PIN number.


For a number of reasons, I do not use debit cards. I have a credit union account, to which I asked to have the payments due me direct-deposited. Yes, I DO understand that the first payment cannot be direct-deposited. So now I have $48 on this debit card, which I would like to extract from Chase and manually deposit, in person, at the Arizona State Credit Union.


I drove to the nearest Chase branch. It is in a dangerous part of town where I would not ordinarily get out of my car—it is, shall we say, a lock-your-car-doors district. Stood in line interminably at the teller’s. Explained the situation, asked to withdraw the $48 that is supposed to be on the card. Jumped through some more hoops. And then what? She informed me the card was rejected. By now I’ve spent another half-hour dorking with this, for a total of 45 minutes.


Now she wants me to go to customer service, where I will be asked to dial the phone number on the card (which is the same punch-a-button hoop-jump number that has already fruitlessly consumed a quarter-hour of my time). I explain that I have work to do, and that the last time I called that number, there was no option to reach a person.


Back at my own phone, I dial a number for Chase listed on Eventually, I reach a person in the auto loan department. He connects me with a human being: in Pakistan or India!


Okay. After waiting 16 minutes to get through to this person, I explain the situation. He says he will connect me to a person in the Unemployment Office in Illinois. I explain that even though Unemployment Insurance is a federal program, in the U.S. it is administered by each state separately and that each state’s system is different, and so it will not do me any good to talk to the Illinois unemployment people. That notwithstanding, he insists on giving me a number in the Unemployment Office in Illinois. I hang up in frustration.


This little runaround has now occupied a good hour and a half of my time, not counting the time used fruitlessly to call a phone number at HR whose talking machine hung up on me before I could explain the issue. Nor does it count the 90 minutes spent sitting in a meeting listening to ASU and Unemployment Insurance representatives explain how to work the system, nor does it count the time I spent filling out forms.


When I’m working at ASU, I’m paid about $30 an hour. Thus, it has cost $45 worth of my time at ASU’s rate to try to extract $48 allegedly due to me. To make things more interesting, my actual, real-life freelance rate is $60 an hour. So, the truth is, I have now spent $90 worth of my time in an effort to retrieve $48 that has already been paid to me but which Chase will not disgorge.


I’m going to give up and write off the $48—I just don’t have time to kill this way. However, I would like someone to know how furious it makes me. I do not like to have my time wasted, and I especially resent being barred from retrieving unemployment insurance that I have paid for with my taxes and my employer has paid for with its taxes.


HR’s effort to cut through red tape and ameliorate the pain of the furlough days was a very good try and much appreciated by those of us who feel worried about our jobs and beat-up by the economy in general. However, it appears your time was every bit as much wasted as mine was. If a human being reads this message and has any clue how to reach an English-speaking human being at Chase (NOT another punch-a-button machine, NOT a foreign national who has no clue what I’m talking about!), please advise.

Don’t you love it?

Truth to tell, the exploit in the sub-working-class neighborhood where Chase directed me to its closest bank was as nothing compared to the misguided junket to our neighborhood Albertson’s, where I incorrectly thought the branch was located (they did used to have some branch bank in there, but it’s gone now—I won’t go into that store because it’s unsafe, and so I’d not noticed the bank’s removal). Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cop cars were lined up in front, a couple of them left with their engines running. Inside, a gaggle of police officers were huddled with a guy who pretty clearly was a vic’ and not a perp. I surmised that he must have been robbed or at least pounced in the parking lot. Charming. Asked after the bank branch and was told to proceed deeper into the slum. And so, onward and downward.

Let’s calculate how much the futile effort to retrieve my $48 really has cost.

Time consumed:
90 minutes: sitting in an informational meeting, filling out forms
15 minutes: navigating punch-a-button phone lines to validate debit card and obtain various secret numbers
30 minutes: driving to Chase branch and being repulsed
20 minutes: reaching a human being on a Chase telephone and being repulsed
15 minutes: writing the diatribe above
TOTAL: 170 minutes, or 2.83 hours

Value of my time as a GDU employee: $30/hour
Value of my time on a freelance basis: $60/hour

Value of time, at taxpayer rate, wasted while I tried to retrieve $48 supposedly already paid to me: $84.90

Value of time, at freelance rate, wasted while I tried to retrieve $48 supposedly already paid to me: $169.80

Tell me: is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe we’re living in a Monty Python show?

Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.


  1. Amazing! I wouldn’t give up on the money on principles, and I think you should make a few strategic phone calls. I wonder if Chase is going to charge you a fee to withdraw the money. Even if it is a “discounted” fee, like 1 buck, then let’s see…how many people on unemployment in your state times a buck? They must make money on this — how? There’s a story here, Chase isn’t real high on the popularity list right now.

    I would call the risk management branch of Chase, and tell them to mail you a check. Make it their problem. Risk management is in the legal department. Sound batty when you call them, and mention the words “class-action lawsuit”.

    I would also call the legal services department of UI, and say the same thing. Again, sound a little batty, like you could do anything. Lawsuit won’t move them as it will Chase, but you know, there has been a lot of news in your state about these furloughs. Ask UI to mail you a check (make it their problem) and in the conversation, ask them what Chase gets out of this?

    Reporter boy, at your local newspaper, the one who has been publishing all the news on the furlough program (I’m guessing there is one reporter dogging this story) have his name handy. Say you’ve been talking to him and you really don’t want to get UI in trouble, but…

    Then, if you get no satisfaction, call reporter dude and tell him all about this. Give good quote about how you can afford to write this off but there are so many others where the 48 dollars means the difference between food on the table or not. Bulldog this one, it is abs. outrageous.

  2. God, Chance. You are freaking BRILLIANT!

  3. I hear you. What a PITA. Still, if it were me I’d go to my local grocery store and buy a $48 gift certificate, paying with that dreaded debit card. Seems to me it would be lots less trouble than Chance’s admittedly more satisfying solution. I just don’t have the energy.

  4. When I was on unemployment, I just went to a Chase ATM and withdrew each weeks payment in cash. I had a pin number and it took five minutes. Good luck!

  5. Believe it or not, the Arizona Republic has no reporter assigned to the GDU fiasco. That’s because it has precious few reporters left. The paper has published three, maybe four articles on the layoffs and furloughs. The PeopleSoft fiasco that led to people not being paid AT ALL, in some cases for two or three months, got not. one. single. report during the endless period over which it occurred. PeopleSoft’s antics have managed to make the Wall Street Journal, but somehow they escaped notice on the local level.

    Can’t withdraw the payment in cash, because Chase rejects the card. If Chase would allow the card to work, believe me, I would extract the money at an ATM if I could find one in a location where I’m unlikely to be mugged. The safety issue is one of several reasons I no longer use ATMs.

  6. I’m sure you have your reasons for doing what you’re doing, but to me it makes no sense at all. I often get pre-paid Visa/AMEX cards from vendors, or at work, so I occasionally have a card with $25 on it or something. All I do is move $25 from my existing checking account into savings, then when I go to the grocery store (or wherever – I just know my local store doesn’t complain when I want to split payment methods), I ask them to take $25 of the pre-paid card, and I pay for the balance the usual way.

    Costs me 0 time, since I’m already at the store, and there are no fees or other nonsense associated with it.

    I hear what you’re trying to accomplish, but I don’t think you’re approaching it in the simplest and most time effective way. You want to be right, and you want the cash off the card, rather than just getting $48 into savings, and $48 off the card and somewhere else.

  7. They rejected your request, or the card was declined? Perhaps it would have been declined wherever you tried to use it.

  8. The teller said it was declined. It wouldn’t work in any part of the bank–whether at the teller’s cage or at an ATM.

    She wanted me to call the same telephone number that I had called to get the thing validated and to acquire the access and PIN number, the very number where the automatic talking telephone line had said, a couple hours earlier, that the card was validated and ready to go.

    The UI representative warned us that Chase has a lot of strings attached to this card — that they ding people with charges and limit the number of times you can use it in a given period. He said, in no uncertain terms, that when we got the debit card we should call the customer service number — again, the same number I’d called earlier in the day — speak to a human being, and ask specifically a) what actions would cause a charge or penalty to be levied and b) how many times can we use it in a week or a month. I tried to do that, and that’s when I learned that the customer service number DOES NOT CONNECT TO A HUMAN BEING. There literally is no choice, anywhere in its punchabutton maze, that will direct you to a person. Sitting on the phone and doing nothing results in a hang-up. Pressing 00000 results in “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.” Pressing ##### gets the same recorded expression of grief.

    You cannot get a person at Chase’s customer disservice number. The teller had no idea what to do. She told me she could not discern how much money had been loaded into the debit card, and she did not know what else to do but to keep trying to find my way through the punchabutton maze.

    Finally, one passes the point where the time devoted to this game is worth more than the prize.

  9. Buh. My eyes are glazing over at the fiasco. I almost want to offer to give it a go, though.

  10. Pingback: Shared Work Unemployment Insurance Story: It gets better! « Funny about Money

  11. Pingback: More on unemployment insurance ripoffs « Funny about Money

  12. That’s just beyond frustrating.

  13. I agree, this is a very frustrating situation. It annoys me that I have to pay ATM fees, deal with a different bank for statements, and be treated like a second class customer.

  14. My husband has been on unemployment for a little over a month now. There is a website on the back of the card. Go to that website and sign up. Then you can check your balance for free. Also, you can sign on to and check if they have issued you any payments recently. The money will be on your card within 24 hrs of the issue date. What did you say you do for a living? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to check the balance on the card, and then go to an ATM and withdraw the money. You can also find out the closest ATM on that same website. Good luck. You seem to have made things much more difficult than they really are. People, use your heads!

  15. I need to find out how to get a replacement unempolyment debit card for one that was lost from chase bank. Please advise. I can’t get any help on the Laworks website and can’t get anyone @ Chase to help me !!!!!

    • @ Sidney: First you need to go to your state unemployment office. If they can’t help you, you should go to Chase and ask to speak with a manager. If that person can’t or won’t help you, then you should go to your state banking commission. If none of those will help you, then you need to find the Legal Aid Society in your state (google it) and see if you can get free legal help there.

  16. I no longer work for Chase but I still remember ways around some issues. While you are at the grocery store use your unemployment dedit card to buy any item for a dollar or less and request to process the transaction as a debit so you would be prompted to enter your PIN. Request $47.00 cash back. You will get your money less $1.00 for an item you wanted. The bank does not charge for these transactions. If you went to the ATM you would most likely only be able to withdraw in multiples of $20.00 so you would have $8.00 cash you can’t access from the ATM machine…For lost or stolen unemploment debit cards call 877-221-1634. Follow the options for lost or stolen cards and yes there is a live person waiting for such a call 24/7. Hopefully this was helpful.

    • Thanks, ex-chase! That’s a useful bit of information.

      But just imagine: you have to run around Robin Hood’s barn like that just to get your own money! And if you don’t play your cards right, you still can’t get at some of it. Notice that this is set up so that you can’t easily put the cash into savings. You have to go to a store, buy something that you may or may not want, dork around with extracting as much of the funds as you can get out, and then return to the bank (or, if you don’t do business with Chase, to your own bank or credit union) and physically put the money into a savings account. What an incredible waste of your time! But of course, if you’re unemployed you have nothing to do but waste time and build Chase’s profits, right? 😉

  17. We feel your pain. We are trying to talk to a human for our AZUI card and no such luck. My husband (owner of the card) purchased his car insurance. The company took 180.00 from his UI account. We found cheaper insurance same day and cancelled other one. The first company refunded money to card. Here we are down the road and still no refund showing on account. Insurance company gives proof of refund but we need to find out where it is. NO HUMANS TO TALK TOO! Very very frustrating. Why cant we just have a person to talk to and tll us straight up “the money is floating in cyberspace over Hawaii” or “too bad to sad your screwed without the benefit of K-Y or a cigarette after”?
    This is very frustrating.
    and for Kayla……no you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure balance etc but you should be more than a pawn in the Arizona, Chase, Federal government game. Give us something more than a non human phone number. Not everyone has the time to spend 2-3 hours trying to take care of something that is bullsnot to begin with and not our problem but that with the card issuer. They hold us accountable for everything why should we not be able to do the same for them?

  18. To reach a person at Chase’s customer service line.

    1. Call the number on the debit card select the option to listen to recent transactions

    2. It wll list the last three transactions. Listen even if you haven’t used the card.

    3. After the recording it will offer various options again.

    4. One option will be to address any disputed transactions choose this.

    4. After entering info it will connect you to a REAL LIVE PERSON from custormer service.

    After many times of trying to talk to someone I stumbled on this. Hope it helps PS this is only the Chase customer service not UI customer service for which we know doesn’t exist.

  19. If they were unable to process the card, then there a few options to take. You have two options for withdrawal: 1) ATM 2) Cash advance with a teller inside the branch.

    A few questions:
    – Did the card require activation prior to being used, and was this performed?
    – Did you receive a statement along with the card clearly stating how much was on it?

    Many states do unemployment via debit cards now, and the most common error on the customer’s side is not knowing exactly how much is on the card

    • @ Mike: As it develops, neither of those strategies worked. The teller can’t see what’s in your account and so can’t give you any money out of it or against it unless your card is working. The ATM did not work.

      Wouldja like to know WHY it didn’t work? Because despite telling us in no uncertain terms that even if we asked upfront for direct deposit, the first payment would be made on the card, no ifs ands or buts, the state NEVER put any money on the card. Eventually, the Department of Economic (in)Security direct-deposited the first payment. The reason it didn’t work was simply that there was no money there to withdraw, and never was.

  20. Not sure why I bothered to read all these comments, a little bored I guess. Since I have already wasted this much time, might as well waste a little mto ore pondering just how difficult your life must be. Something this small seems to have completely disrupted your life. I mean you could just use that card at a Circle K and get cash back. You don’t even have to purchase anything! I feel sorry for the students in any of your classes. I empathize for their wasted time.



      Actually, Phil, if you’d been awake enough to read the comments, you might have noticed that the reason the card didn’t work at Circle K, Albertson’s, or the bank was that there was no money on the card! Yea verily, there never was any money on the card, despite the 12 or 15 disbursals UI made to me over the spring semester.

      A great deal of my time was wasted in trying to extract this bit of intelligence. Assuredly, though, none of my students’ time was wasted in this effort.

  21. 1st I can’t believe I am wasting my time replying to this. What do you have against debit cards? No wonder why you have no clue on how to use something more simple than cash! That neighborhood you spoke of you know the keep the doors locked type, I’d like to see you with your cash out instead of a pin secured debit card!

    • @ Justin: Why waste your time, then, entering uninformed comments?

      I don’t use cash. I use a credit card.

      What do I have against debit cards?

      1. I have so da^^n many passwords and numbers to remember, I do not care to have to remember yet another one or two or three.
      2. If someone hacks into your account with a stolen debit card, you get to foot the bill. They can drain your account all the way to the bottom of the credit reserve, and you’re out the money. With a credit card, your loss is limited to $50.
      3. I don’t go into establishments in neighborhoods where I would not unlock my door; therefore, I’m unlikely to be flashing cash around in any such place. Or in any other place, since I don’t carry cash.

      What do I have for credit cards?

      1. Loss in case of fraud or theft is limited to $50.
      2. It’s a lot easier to return things if you’ve paid with a credit card. If you pay with a check, many retailers will not take a return until your check has cleared the bank.
      3. Many credit cards provide a kind of “insurance” on items that break or are stolen within a period after purchase. Debit cards and cash have no such back-up.

      What’s it to you, anyway, my dear? Is there some reason I can’t have my personal taste without being subjected to your criticism?

  22. My Colorado unemployment benefits are put on a Chase Debit card. This morning, I checked the balance on the card, and it showed $403. I proceeded to the local Chase Bank ATM, a drive-thru at a Chase branch, and asked the ATM for $400. I received a receipt stating that the transaction was denied. I then asked for a balance and was given a receipt saying that the transaction was denied. Then I attempted to withdraw $100, and received a receipt stating that the transaction was denied for insufficient funds. So, I went back to my house and looked at the Chase account on my computer. The account showed a $400 withdrawl with today\’s date. Because I had not gotten this money, I immediately called Chase Customer service. They told me that my only option was to dispute the withdrawl – if successful, they would return the money to me after 10 business days. When I asked if I would receive some kind of confirmation in writing that the dispute had been initiated, she said I would not. I then asked for her name, and she would only give me her first name. Finally, she coughed up a claim number. I then drove to the actual Chase Bank branch where this had happened , with the receipts and a printout of my account in hand. I was met at the door by a rather prosperous looking banker, and he listened to my description of the problem and referred me back to the phone number which I had initially called. Given my deep mistrust of these conglomerate banks and the political system of rewards which handed unemployment funds over to Chase bank to begin with, my best guess is that Chase just needed a few extra millions of dollars to fund something overnight and so created this \”glitch\” in order to have more ready cash for a couple of weeks. My troubles are nothing compared with what was done to Americans as a whole when this money, our money from our tax dollars, was turned over to Chase Bank. Why there is no discussion of this completely unethical arrangement is beyond me, but I would definitely be lying if I said I am surprised by any of it. What on earth will I do if Chase Bank tells me in 10 days that I got the $400? My only recourse will be to file theft charges against the branch because their ATM malfunctioned. Let them prove that they gave me the money.

    • @ Cathy: It’s also possible someone managed to steal your PIN number, say, by looking over your shoulder. In that case, it’s identity theft.

      You might want to try calling the unemployment office and letting them know about this. Also, the U.S. Attorney General has an active program on identity theft. Go to their website, and see if you can find a phone number that will reach a human being there. I’d also call my state attorney general’s office.

      You’d be surprised how much banks do NOT want to be contacted by an AG’s office. The minute they get a whiff of that, they turn real cooperative.

  23. Sound like a big cry baby to me! I have a Chase unemployment card and have not had 1 problem. Seems to me you simply can’t follow directions. Or you didn’t bother to listen to the information given to you. Obviously a case of you not knowing what you were doing. And another thing…… you poke fun at going to these areas of town that aren’t up to your social standards. Everyone comes from somewhere. Keep your too good self in your own area you stereotyping ignorant moron

    • @ noah, you cute little troll: I don’t think that noting a woman was abducted from a bus stop down the street and raped — a day after I stood at the same bus stop for an hour and then got off the bus across the street and hiked a half-mile home — is what most normal people would call “poking fun.” BTW, “these areas of town” happen to be my area of town. I could walk to the bank, if I cared to put my personal safety at risk by crossing a major intersection where a man was murdered by a pair of opportunistic, passing thieves while waiting for the signal to change. So exactly how I’m supposed to keep myself in some other area without being able to sell my home and move away remains for you to explain. Since you’re so brilliant, let’s hear the explanation.

  24. @Sydney:

    To get a replacement Direct Payment Card from your state’s Unemployment Office you must call their customer service number (New York State is 1 877 221 can do an internet search on your specific state). If, like in my case, the customer service office is automated and despite pressing “0” or “00” for a live person you still get no one, you must actually CANCEL your card. I did not know this and for 1o weeks desperately tried to get a replacement card. In the prompts, it should ask you to press 1 to report your card lost or stolen. Then again, to precisely choose whether it was lost… or stolen. Chose lost. It will likely say, “thank you” and leave you without any directions on how to get a replacement. But it should ask you whether you want to CANCEL your card. Choose this option. It will then take you through another round of automated Q&A where your zip code, house number, and finally whole address will be verified. The system will also let you know that if you have not had to replace the card before (despite calling many times to do so), you will not be charged a $5 fee. It will be sent directly to you via regular mail. You also have the option, for $10, to get the card overnight (not free, despite it being the first time you lost it ). I chose regular mail and got the card in 2 days. I hope this is helpful.

    @ OP. So sorry to hear about your experience. I hope the issue has been resolved by now 🙁