Months have gone by, and I’m still trying to extract statements from TIAA-CREF and Fidelity for my retirement plan. I can’t access their websites because neither outfit has given me a PIN or a password. The most recent statements arrived in spring of 2007.
After trying to call and being repelled by impenetrable telephone run-around mazes at both entities, I sent them snail-mail requests in March. Nothing. Then I sent e-mail requests through their “Contact” links at their websites. Not a word from Fidelity. I complained to HR through PeopleSoft’s new impenetrable “please do not bother us” electronic maze. Nothing.
TIAA-CREF did manage to respond to the e-mail request, addressed to “Dr. Hay” as follows (in ordinary correspondence, I never append “Ph.D.” to my name):
We will be happy to answer your account specific questions, however, I am unable to provide this information via email as your email was sent non-secure. Emails sent non-secure are for general inquiries only. This measure is in place to protect your personal information and privacy, which we take very seriously.
Because you are not able to log into your accounts, you may obtain the information by calling our National Contact Center at the telephone number listed below.
Foolishly, the person who sent this did so from an e-mail address that would accept a response. Hence, me to Faceless Corporation:
It is not possible to get through to a human being on these telephone numbers. I have tried. Please give me a phone number that will reach a person. If you can’t do that, please provide a way to communicate over a secure e-mail connection.
Clearly, if you know I have a Ph.D., something that was not mentioned in my e-mail, you know who I am and you know how to access my account. Why, then, is it not possible simply to send me a statement at the address your organization has?
This elicited a message from a new person at TIAA-CREF, who introduced herself as my “case manager” and said,
Iam researching this matter and will reply to you in writing as soon as possible within the next 30 days. I will contact you if we require additional time or need further information.
Think of that: 30 days to figure out how to send a statement. How hard can this be?
As we know, bureaucracy exists to serve itself. Apparently there’s a corollary to that famous law of nature: the larger the bureaucracy, the less effectively it can serve itself or anyone else.
LOL! Yes, I do know about gethuman.com. At this point, I just wanna see what happens next!