Coffee heat rising

De-Banking and Re-Banking

Possibly the term is de-credit-unioning…but that’s a little clumsier than de-banking, for a title. 😉

The plan under way just now is to abandon the Arizona State Credit Union, now annoyingly called “OneAZ,” and move my vast wealth over to the Desert Schools Credit Union. Probably I should have done this a long time ago, but out of inertia I’ve remained with the state employees’ credit union. Closing out a personal account and a corporate account represents a substantial amount of hassle, especially since a LOT of direct deposits come in and even MORE automated direct payments go out. Canceling each of these and re-establishing them at a new institution presents a lengthy series of headaches.

However, OneAZ (isn’t that cutesiness enough to  just gag you?) has gone too far in its latest manifestation of customer disservice. They’ve decided that we no longer will be allowed to deposit checks by scanning to a computer and uploading to an account. All electronic deposits now must be made by smartphone.

Well. I don’t have a smartphone and I don’t want one and even if I did want one, believe me, there’s no way in Hell I could afford one. I’ve tried an Android smartphone and after several expensive months of wrestling I simply could NOT learn how to work it. We’re told the iPhone is more OldBat-friendly. Yeah: for a thousand bucks.

Jayzus. A thousand dollars for a telephone!

At any rate, what this means is that every time a check comes in, I have to traipse across the city to hand the damn thing to a teller, in person. The nearest branch is at the ASU West campus, a 15- or 20-minute drive through a depressing slum — so, 30 minutes to deposit one check, with no other errands to do on that side of town.

I get a constant flow of little nuisance checks. Medicare and Medigap do not accrue all the eligible payments for any given Adventure in Medical Science. They send you a tiny little check here and a tiny little check there and an even tinier check again. Most recently, they sent me a goddamn check for $3.17! The gasoline to drive to the credit union and back would cost more than that!

Desert Schools is located in the North Central corridor, putting it reasonably close to the Funny Farm. And, more to the point, putting it in the general direction of other errand destinations where I go several times a week: two grocery stores, an Ace Hardware, drugstores, a Costco…. And several more or less acceptable restaurants;. It’s halfway to a Sprouts; a Nordstrom’s Rack; the FedEx guys, an upscale Fry’s and a downscale Fry’s (the local name for Kroger’s); and the now much-discombulated Biltmore Fashion Square, home to a Macy’s, a Saks, a Williams-Sonoma, a Pottery Barn. L’Occitane, a Cost Plus, a Pier One, and on and on.

So as a practical matter, Desert Schools is much more convenient, now that I’m not working at the West campus. I’ve stuck with them for a good 20 years, because their service has been primo, and for many years they had a banker stationed in the lobby who was about the best thing that ever came along. But recently they promoted the guy, and they replaced him with one of the dumbest cows I’ve ever seen. She is just stump stupid, and when you have a question or a problem, she not only is no help, she’s actually…shall we say, counterproductive.

This leaves as the only reason to drive out there the depositing of checks, which one really should not have to do at all because in any reasonable system one would be able to upload a jpeg or two and be done with it.

LOL! Desert Schools has also changed its name, but at least not in an annoying way: they now call themselves simply “Desert Credit Union,” presumably signalling that potential customers no longer need be educators to qualify for membership.

One must admit, the products they offer are significantly better than OneAZ’s. They can take wire transfers, although only to personal accounts. Since we recently de-incorporated The Copyeditor’s Desk and turned it into a sole proprietorship, that won’t matter: clients can simply wire direct to me as a human being rather than as a business entity. This, oh hallelujah, would revive my China trade!

WonderAccountant wants me to keep a separate business account, though I fail to see why I couldn’t simply segregate CE Desk transactions into a savings account within the personal account. You can make electronic payments directly out of a credit-union savings account; besides, I charge business expenses to the corporate AMEX card, so you’d think that would maintain enough of a corporate veil. As it were. Why do you need a corporate veil for a sole proprietorship, anyway? All its assets belong to the proprietor…

At any rate, this little  transfer scheme looks to me like a long, sticky mess.

BECAUSE…I have quite a few automated direct deposits and quite a few automatic payments, not the least of which are the utility bills, which are engrossed by each utility provider from their direction. This means I’ll have to call the city water department, the power company, and the gas company to give them new account information…and as you know, anything that sounds as simple as that invariably turns into a headache-breeding tangle. And I have Metlife ripping off $128 a month for long-term care, which I need to cancel anyway.

So that will be a hassle. Nay, a series of hassles.

Vaguely, I recall that we were told, when we signed up for long-term care insurance originally through TIAA-CREF, that paying into it created a kind of fund that would be paid back to us if we decided to stop paying premiums. However, TIAA-CREF abandoned the long-term care insurance business and transferred their customers to Metlife, which subsequently also abandoned LTC insuring. They kept their existing customers, but we’re told customer service is execrable and they do everything they can to get out of delivering the coverage you paid for half your life. So even if they don’t return some of the money I’ve poured into their coffers, at least I won’t be wasting any more money there.

Getting through to Social Security to have those monthly payments moved over surely will mean a major bureaucratic runaround, and probably a trip to a Social Security office and several hours wasted sitting around a waiting room.

And heaven only knows how long it will take to move all those automated deposits and payments around and make them work properly.

So. My plan is to leave about a thousand dollars in the OneAZ personal account and maybe about $500 in the business account. That should (…i hope…) be enough to cover about a month’s worth of auto-payments until such time as I can make SS change its records, but it also should put enough in the new accounts to cover the credit card bills and the auto-payments that get changed with minimal argument or foot-dragging.

It’s going to be a project, probably extending over several weeks…maybe even a couple of months. But I expect the result will represent an improvement.

The Strangeness of Everyday Life

Ever think that life gets hilariouser and hilariouser by the day?

Hilariouser: I use that term ironically….

A couple weeks ago, the Mayo sent a snail-mail letter — on a piece of paper, can you imagine? — saying that the address to which the credit union was sending my online bill payments was wrong, and asking if I would please change it.

Well, you can’t get into that feature from your computer. So yesterday morning I drive over to the credit union to ask if one of their tellers would please get into the system and correct the address. Understand: the Mayo’s address is something the CU has in its system; in theory I shouldn’t have to enter it at all. What this seems to suggest is that the CU itself has the wrong address, rather than that somehow five or six years ago I entered the wrong address.

My trusty banker dude, Justin, was promoted two or three months ago, leaving his station empty. So if a teller can’t deal with something, the only staff there who can has been the manager. But when I walked in, lo! There was a NEW LADY sitting at Justin’s desk. And wouldn’tcha know, the teller fobs me off on her.

I explain the situation…and as I’m doing so, realize that this dear soul is as dumb as the day is long. She just barely understands what I’m talking about.

Okay, she’s new on the job….but thank goodness she wasn’t on the job earlier this year, when I was dodging around the PayPal/BofA hassle. She gets on the phone, calls someone, and asks what to do. They tell her to get into my account and then they’ll show her how to change the address. So…instead of calling up my account on her computer the way Justin always did, she goes to the CU’s homepage and asks me to sign in on her computer with my username and password. She hands the keyboard across her desk and asks me to sign in.

What?????? I don’t have my password with me. My computer automatically signs me in, using one of the EIGHTEEN SINGLE-SPACED PAGES OF UNIQUE PASSWORDS that my web adventures have generated over the years. I haven’t the faintest idea what my password is.

So I walk out, having wasted a fair amount of my time driving up there. I’m so flabbergasted by how stupid she is — truly, an amoeba would have more power under the hood — that I’m not even mad as the proverbial cat. She’s so stupid she comes out as funny.

WHY, for godsake, would you put someone as dumb as a cow into a job like that?

So now, I guess, after this I’ll have to pay the Mayo by charging their bills on AMEX. That’s fine, actually…tho’ it’s a little extra hassle, I get a nice kickback from everything I charge on that card.

Onward to Costco…

Speaking of herds of cows… HOLY cow! 😀

Waited until yesterday to make this run, because usually Costco is not very crowded on Wednesday.

I guess that was more or less true, except…the people who were in the store were just freaking weird. I would be walking along in a straight line, obviously headed to a destination, and a ninny would drift into my path and then just stop there, blocking the way. You could see that they could see me…they just didn’t give a shit. Once…okay, I could deal with that. Twice…all right, something’s in the air. But this happened repeatedly! Everyplace I tried to go, there was some chucklehead blocking my way.

Don’t think I’ve ever had that experience there…or anywhere. It was just strange behavior. I was in no hurry, so it wasn’t like I was feeling touchy because I wanted to get going, or like I was setting people off by obviously being anxious to “get there first.”

Swimming Pool Service & Repair sent their guy over to set a pump in the pool and drain the water into the sewer connection. He was the chatty type…I learned a great deal about his life. That was fine: I had nothing else to do, and it was nice to chat with a human for a change.

As the water level dropped, it became ever more evident that the walls are festooned with algae. Honestly, I do NOT know how they’re going to beat that stuff. The problem is the heat in the water resulting from the stupid blue surface, which this guy acknowledged. I suggested we should paint it white (turns out you can paint that stuff). He was horrified. I told him my plan, if we can’t resolve the problem, is to fill in the pool and plant a tree there. Horrified some more. 😀 He believes the problem is chemical balance. I believe the problem is the PebbleSheen surface.

Heh…we’ll soon see who’s right!