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 GetHuman.com. 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.
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?