Friday, November 22, 2013

Are Your Ready for Another Round of Consolidation in the Cable TV Industry?

As many of you who read this blog know, I am no fan of the way that cable, satellite, or Telco companies offering to bring Internet and TV programming into the home.  If you are not familiar with my opinions on this subject, here are some of my previous posts:

Charter Communications wins honor in Hall of Shame for Customer Service
Comcast Joins Charter Communications in Hall of Shame
The Quagmire of Dealing with DirecTV
DirecTV Power Email
AT&T Account Obfuscation
DirecTV's Penchant for Spurious Telephone Calls
Time Warner Joins Comcast and Charter Communications in Competition for the Sleaziest       Service of Cable TV Providers

The basic problem as I see it is that there really isn't really any competition in the industry.  Unlike other industries that might flex their muscles and flirt with the antitrust laws, many in the Cable TV industry do not have to worry about it.  It is not that they have no competition -- it is that they have no competition in many of the markets they individually serve.  So, for example, here in the Reno NV area Charter is the only real provider of Internet and Cable TV services.  Again, not because there are no other Cable TV companies, but rather because there are no other Internet or Cable TV providers in Reno by choice.   Historically, once one provider comes into a market, other cable companies find it unprofitable to string up that much cable to get only part of the audience.  The corollary to this is that the rates are noncompetitive and the service is terrible.

But now, the cable companies are reportedly preparing to do a major consolidation.  If the reports are correct, Charter, Comcast, or Cox, or some combined offers will buy out Time Warner Cable. This is good for the surviving Cable companies because they will have more clout negotiating with the content providers, and they will have more political clout with a larger financial pocketbook for lobbying.  But what to the consumers get out of it.  We get bundles of programming shoved down our throat that we don't want and get charged exorbitant monthly fees with poor service to boot, and the monopolistic "take it or leave it" attitude from the Cable company. More importantly, by controlling the pipeline with which content arrives at our homes, they control which content we will see.

Just as we saw in years past with the independence of the telecommunications companies decimated and now controlled by fewer and fewer companies, we have seen an erosion in the vital fourth estate of government.  The intrusion into the diversity of the Cable arena has gone too far already.  We do not need fewer and larger Cable and Internet companies.  The Justice Department should clearly preclude Charter or Comcast from acquiring Time Warner Cable.

Monday, October 28, 2013

KitchenAid is NO Aid

I had always thought that KitchenAid was a quality manufacturer of kitchen related products: major appliances, counter top appliances, and kitchenware. I have (or should I more accurately say, "in many cases 'had') a KitchenAid Dishwasher, Garbage Disposal Unit (2),  a water filter, range hood, coffee maker, mixer, counter top oven, cookware and a toaster.

What intrigues me this week is the simultaneous destruction of a dishwasher, garbage disposal unit, a toaster and a coffee maker.  I know that the probability of multiple failures increases with the larger number of components, but to have this many failures in one week is downright conspiratorial.  After all, I had paid a premium for the products to avoid the common and frequent replacement of these types of items.   The last thing you need is to wake up in the morning and find your coffee maker dysfunctional, or to be faced with the horror of replacing or repairing a fairly new dishwasher. Of course the unit may be repaired, but I say replace because oftentimes it is cheaper to replace than to sustain the ridiculously high cost of repair.

I have now come to the conclusion that I am not going to replace my appliances and related products with KitchenAid any more.  it is just too hyped up a product for me to have faith in their product line any longer.

So long, KitchenAid.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Time Warner Joins Comcast and Charter Communications in Competition for the Sleaziest Service of Cable TV providers

I had noticed my Time Warner Cable bill was creeping up month my month.  I have just TV service and it had reached $76 a month.  I called TWC (Time Warner) to see what they could do.
They offered me a rate of $49.95 a month for the service.  I accepted that.  I then received the next month's bill and it was in excess of $86.00. What is going on here. I called TWC yesterday to try to get it straightened out.  I had to wait over an hour to get to a customer service representative.  They explained to me that there was no $49.95 program available and that I would have to pay the $86.00 for the previous month. I told them to remove the equipment.
   Today I received a call from Jessica from TWC who wanted to know if there was anything they could do to get back in my good graces.  I explained that I don't like to deal with sleazy companies that lied.  Jessica offered the $9.95 package to me and offered to rebate me $110.00 off the next months bills to compensate for the over billing. They also have a vacation program that will reduce the bill to $5 when I am away on vacation, which happens a lot to me.

Lesson learned. Don't be afraid to cancel your service as the threat to get the plan you want from your cable provider.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

US Postal Service has their Thumb on the Scale

I went to the local Post office today with a large envelope with 7  letter size pages inside. I needed to put postage on it.  The line was too long, so I went to the automated machine to buy the postage since there was no line there.  I put the letter on the scale and pushed a few buttons. It asked me to verify the weight: 1 lb. 1.2 oz.  That couldn't be right.  A regular first class letter can easily handle 4 page under an ounce.  7 pages, even with the large envelope couldn't weigh more than 2 ox.

I took the envelope off the scale and the weight registered exactly 1 lb. I put the envelope back on and it weighed 1 lb. 1.2 oz. again.  I started over again and got the same results.

I got in line and waited about 10 minutes to get to the clerk.  I explained the situation and asked them to take the machine out of service so that others wouldn't be overcharged for using the machine.  They said they would get around to it when they had time. Right now there was a line that had to be taken care of.

I got the correct postage from the clerk, mailed the letter, and left the post office.  I called the weights and measures department of the State department of Agriculture.  They informed me that they have no jurisdiction over the Postal Service. They suggested that I call the Postmaster.  Of course, the Postmaster never answers the phone.  There is always the complaint form at the site.  I remember the last time I used that and it took weeks. Oh well, caveat emptor at the USPS.


I went to the Post Office again today, Feb 2, 2015.   It has been about a year and a half since my last visit.  Whatever I have written above can still be said for today's trip with the only exceptions being that the letter weighed 3.4 ounces, but the machine said 1 lb. 3.4 oz.  I've heard that the Post Office was slow, but this takes the cake.   Criminal.

I have now contacted the Postmaster, Customer Service, Consumer Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Division, and Postal Inspector. All to no avail.  I guess the US Post Office is immune to these criminal activities. I have also tried the local Law Enforcement, State Law Enforcement.  The only thing I can think of that remains is the FBI.  Seems like a waste of resources to bring in the FBI, but I don't think I have much choice. More later when I get some results.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

OptumRx Sucks just like Express Scripts and Medco

I really thought I had finally gotten away from the skulduggery of Express Scripts when I signed up for my part D medicare coverage through AARP's United Healthcare.  Little did I know what I was in for.  If you are unfamiliar with my escapades with these two firms please be my guest and look at my past posts on them. You will not believe the heroics that one must go through to deal with them.

Well, I have almost met my match with OptumRx.
We went through the usual with the first Rx.  They said the drug was not in the formulary and that it would require precertification.  We went through that with flying colors and in anticipation of the next roadblock I had the physician send in advance the required Rx that would be needed to be filled and a spare to the house just in case they screwed it up.  We were away on vacation when the automated messages started arriving on my cell phone indicating that they had approved the drug based upon the physicians report.  They called to say that they had received the Rx. They called to say that they had shipped the Rx.  We waited and waited, but no delivery was in sight.
I called. They promised that it would arrive the very next day. Nothing.  I called back. And that is when holly hell broke loose.
First, I notice that it was very strange that I had called at 5:15pm and got the message that the office was closed and that I must call between 8am and 8pm.  Ah ha!, this must be eastern time.
I called the next morning at 7am pacific time (10am eastern).  Got the same message, that's strange.  There was an option 6 for emergencies. I dialed and bot a human.  That was better than the day before when no one answered the emergency number. I explained that the message explained that the office was closed and that I would have to call back later, but that it didn't made sense.  She did not know what to make of it, she said I had not dialed the emergency number and that she could help me. I explained the situation and she said that the delivery was going to occur that very day and that I should be patient.
I was patient, but no package arrived.  In anticipation of the problem I took the spare Rx that I had gotten for the drug down to the pharmacy to get it filled (we are out of medication at this time).  The pharmacy could not fill the Rx, nor did they have any of the meds on hand. I would have to wait till the morning to contact OptumRx.
I called OptumRx and got the same silly messages about the office being closed. I tried many times. I tried the emergency number, but that did not work either.  The only option left was to use the Spanish option.  I dialed 1 for Spanish and got a representative who spoke to me in Spanish.
I speak Spanish so this is fine for me.
As an aside, did you know that for most organizations that hire Spanish speaking customer service representatives, they must also speak English. Further, if you find the wait too long for the English customer service you can oftentimes have a shorter wait for the Spanish representative and then proceed to speak in English.  I have tried this many times and have never had a problem doing it.  In truth, I think this is a form of discrimination against English speakers, or a form of harassment when the  company wants to slow down the rate at which they are handling customer service calls.
Anyway, I explained everything to the representative and he referred me to a specialist. The specialist took down the information and said that she would contact the pharmacy and get back to me in about a half hour.  After three hours I called the pharmacy to see if the situation was straightened out. It wasn't.  I called the number for the specialist over the next few hours and got no response. I finally called the main number again (Spanish option) and got through to a representative that finally got me to the original specialist.  The specialist explained that she had been out to lunch (yea, "out to lunch", for 4 hours, right). Everything would be straightened out.
Three hours later, nothing.
I paid full price for the meds. I can't wait any longer.
Now, why doesn't their phone system work. I called the number and got the option for complaints.
They could not deal with me since their system was down.  Yes, there was a problem with the phone system over the last few days, it is not fixed and who knows how long it has really been not working.  This has got to be the greatest scam in history.  They are paid to deal with filling Rx's an so slow down the rate at which they fill Rx's that's all they have to do is made their phone system deep 6 all, or most of, the phone call they are getting.

Good going OptumRx.
February 28, 2014. Update:
Things have muddled along with OptumRx.  They have been very slow to deliver. Deny receiving Rx's, etc.  All the usual stuff to deal with.  I have now run into a new class of problem with them.
We had ordered an Rx just after the beginning of the year and they claimed that we needed a new Rx from the Dr. since the old Rx was stale.  They required a written Rx mailed to them.  This is like when I was in grammar school and the teacher wanted a signed note from my mother. Oh well (yawn).  This was sent in by the Dr. and we a received call from OptumRx that they could not accept a Fax of the Rx. Dr. claims to have sent in a hard copy via snail mail, but sent a Fax in advance advising them that the snail mail was coming (Oh well). It was taking so long to get the Rx that the Dr. gave me a 30 day supply to fill locally, which I did.  Rx still not arriving from OptumRx.  Called and found out that since the local Rx was filled they had to wait until 2 weeks before that supply was exhausted before they shipped.  They indicated that they would ship at that point (new Medicare rules require them to get permission before shipping a new Rx. Permission granted. Further waiting. No delivery. Called OptumRx.  The claim is we never gave permission to send the Rx.  Gave permission again.  Waiting and waiting, called, shipped. waiting, waiting, called, to be shipped, waiting, waiting, called, shipped that day to be delivered in 3 to 5 business days, signature required. Delivered the very same day as that last call, no signature required. Oh well.

Now for the interesting part.  I now get my credit card (CC) statement.  There are three charges for the same amount.  Once in January (what was that for) and two on February 20 (why two).  Inquiring minds want to know. I called to find out what they were doing.  The first charge was for the medication that was never sent out.  The two on February 20 were for the same Rx.  I have a credit, so they say, for 2 times the amount of the copay.  Why did they charge me so that they could have the credit on my account?  Please refund.  Okay, BUT -- The information they have on my credit card does not match the credit card I have.  The expiration date is different.  The date they have is further into the future by over 2 years.  Possible explanation is that my CC is about to expire next month. Perhaps the CC company gave them the new expiration date so that transactions would not be rejected??????.  I called the CC company. First, they have not issued me a new card yet. Next, when they do issue it, they would never give that information to the vendor.  And, finally, the date I was given by OptumRx does not match the soon to be issued expiration date given to me by OptumRx as the expiration date on the card that they have on file.
How the hell have they been charging things to my account all this time?????
To be continued.
March 4, 2014.
I have been watching my on line credit card transactions to see if the OptumRx credit has been issued. No chance.  However, I do note that there is yet another $7.00 charge on my account from OptumRx. This one is strange.  It was charged on 2/19, one day before the other two charges for $7.00 but posted on March 26. Strange.
I am finished with trying to resolve this with OptumRx. I called the CC company and disputed the two charges for $7.00. Tune in next week.
Note to self: I have to check every charge from OptumRx on my CC statement from now on against Rx's filled to make sure they are not over billing me.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

CVS Needs to Get their Act Together

I went to the local CVS to get some aspirin.  I bought some aspirin that was on sale and also some gum that was also on sale  -- 2 for $2.50. I went to the cash register to check out and the clerk rang up the items while I looked at the small screen as the items passed by.  First, the aspirin rang at full price.  I commented that I did not get the sale price.  The attendant asked if I had a CVS card.  I gave her the card and it showed the discount. Then she rang up the gum and it did not show the discount.  She voided the entire transaction and started over.  She asked for the total amount due. The small screen still showed the price of the gum undiscounted.  She looked carefully at her screen and said that I was getting the discounted price.  I showed her in the screen that the amount was not discounted.  In a matter of fact voice she said that sometimes the small screen does not show the same price as the screen she is looking at. Come again? What planet is the software designer who designed that system coming from?
I think that the most galling thing was the way she expected me to swallow that one as being a reasonable thing for a cash register to do.

Largest Debt Collection Company Hit with $3.2 Million Fine by FTC

As reported in the media Tuesday, July 8, 2013, Expert Global Solutions was fined by the Federal Trade Commission a total of 3.2 Million Dollars for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Expert Global Solutions is the largest US Consumer Debt Collection company based in Plano, TX

The fine resulted from what the FTC called gross violations, including calling consumers multiple times each day, even when consumers asked them to stop.  They were also cited for having called consumers at their place of work, even when the consumer's employer prohibited such calls.  They also left messages about the debt with third parties, which is expressly prohibited.

Under the agreement Expert Global Solutions must not harass or abuse a person while trying to collect a debt, not contact third parties about a person's debt, not call a person's workplace if it is prohibited by their employer, cease communications if a person has requested no further contact, and record at least 75% of all their debt collection calls beginning one year after the date of the order and retain those recordings for a period of not less than 90 days after they are recorded.

Expert Global Solutions has more than 32,000 employees and has annual revenues in excess of $ 1 Billion.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lowe's Home Improvement Needs Some Improvements

I don't mean to be hard to deal with, but I think that Lowe's needs to learn a lesson in customer service.
I have been trying to reach the Doors & Windows department at the local Lowe's Store for a few weeks now.  I have called the local store and been guided through the automated system, but there is no listing for Doors & Windows. I have spoken to the operator and I have been transferred to that department's phone extension only to be on hold with that wonderful elevator music. I have waited over a half an hour for someone to answer while I put my phone on speakerphone and go about what I am doing (and, of course, I have the elevator music blaring as the background noise).  I have done this too many times now (8 to be exact).  I have asked the operator to deliver a message, all to no avail.  I have called the manager, and gotten into the same loop, again to no avail.
I have also called the corporate customer care number and explained the situation.  I am on hold right now for them.  I have been on hold for 34 minutes and I have now been connected to the customer care representative for the store.
I have explained the situation. They are incredulous as to my difficulties, yet they cannot locate my quote in their system and they have now put me on hold again.

Exactly how much time Lowe's expects me to waste waiting for a meaningful interaction with them seems to be infinite. Shawn has finally gotten back to me and cannot find my quote.  We started over again and he cannot find a manufacturer that makes the window I want.
Ok, after about 20 minutes of poking around He finally found a company that makes what I want.


It really gets me that these companies can say that they want to be the store that they want me to shop at, but I somehow don't think that this is really true.  They need to get their act together.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

GE's Call Center

I am researching a sealant that I need to install on an expansion joint.  I saw the GE Silicone II Concrete and Mortar Caulk and had a few questions that were not answered on the label.  So, I decided to call the Customer Information Call Center.  I spoke to a woman who was not very helpful. I asked very specific questions. She did answer one of the four.  In further researching the product I noticed that they had a manufacturer listed that was not GE. I called the number for the manufacturer and spoke to a gentleman.  Each time I spoke to him it was like there was a delay in the transmission of my voice.  From the time I would finish speaking until he started speaking was about 10 seconds.  I thought that was very strange, even if they were out sourcing the call center to India or some other far off place.
I asked the one question that I had gotten an answer to from the previous call center person and he gave me a different answer.   He then proceeded to tell me that the answers were all given to me in my previous call.  I confronted him and he indicated that the person I spoke to when I called GE was sitting right next to him and that she was telling him what she had told me on the previous call.  This finally explained why there was the time delay in his responses to my questions.  I pointed out to him that the lady I had spoken to had given me one answer and he had given me a completely different answer.  I contested that comment.  He then went on to say that the way I ask the lady the question was slightly different from the way I had asked him the question, hence the different answer.  He was hanging on a hair on that one.  I asked another question. He indicated that the previous call had answered that question.  I pointed out that the previous call had not resulted in an answer to the question and that the referral to another company was to a dead telephone number. He told me was not going to answer any further questions.

What the heck is going on here? Is this the way you handle customer service?  Also, the assumption that because I called from the same number, I must be the same person. Where do they get that from.
How about truth in advertising. I called two different numbers to two different companies.

Shame on you GE. I am not going to use the product even if it is right for the job.  You just lost a sale for $900.00. Keep up the good work.  I might even sell my GE stock after that one.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Supreme Court Hears Pharma Case for Pay for Delay on Generic Drugs

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether drug companies can "pay off" generic drug rivals to keep the generic products off the market so that they can continue their monopolistic advantage marketing their patented drugs for longer than the law provides.  This is all done under the guise of settling patent litigation with generic rivals by making deals to keep cheaper products off the market. The case has not grabbed the attention of the press, except in a few isolated cases.
U.S. and state regulators all say the practice costs consumers, insurers and government billions of dollars annually and is a restraint of trade.
The Federal Trade Commission, which has called these arrangements "pay for delay," has fought them in court for years with mixed success, culminating in the case now before the Supreme Court.
In a brief the FTC said, "The continuing stream of monopoly profits is large enough to pay the generic competitors more than they could hope to earn if they entered the market at competitive prices."   They continued by saying that "at the same time, the brand-name manufacturer through their illegal monopoly receives greater profits than it could earn in the face of generic competition."
A host of public interest entities including the Justice Department, the European Union and more than two dozen U.S. state attorneys general view the deals as illegal restraint of trade, but drug companies defend them as a way to avoid potentially lengthy patent litigation.
"In every case that we've been in involved in that resulted in a settlement, it has resulted in years being taken off the patent life," added Paul Bisaro, chief executive of generic drug maker Actavis, Inc. Actavis was formerly Watson Pharmaceuticals.
"It's very unsophisticated to say 'Oh, they get paid a bunch of money to stay off the market,"' said Bisaro.
In the case before the court, Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc, now owned by AbbVie, sued generic drug makers in 2003 to stop cheaper versions of AndroGel, a gel used to treat men with low testosterone.
These payments, as high as $30 million annually, went to rivals Watson, Paddock Laboratories Inc and Par Pharmaceutical Cos, and were intended to help Solvay preserve annual profits estimated at $125 million.
Under the deal, the three would stay off the market until 2015. The patent expires in 2020.
AbbVie was confident that it would win.
"The federal district and appellate courts have both previously ruled that the plaintiff's allegations lacked merit. We are confident that these decisions will be upheld," Adelle Infante, an AbbVie spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.
AbbVie's arrangement is similar to the 40 deals made in the 2012 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. That was up from 28 the previous year despite FTC efforts to stop them. The FTC said the agreements involved 31 different brand name drugs with total U.S. sales of more than $8.3 billion annually.
The FTC sued to stop the AndroGel arrangement, arguing that it was illegal under antitrust law because the companies divided up the market.
The FTC lost at the district court level and lost an appeal as well. But another appellate court has said the deals were illegal, prompting the Supreme Court to step in to resolve the split.
The FTC also sued Cephalon Inc, accusing it in 2008 of blocking a generic version of the anti-sleep drug Provigil. The case has been stayed pending the Supreme Court's decision.
In 2001 the FTC sued Schering-Plough Corp., later bought by Merck and Co Inc, because of payments to rivals to delay generic versions of its potassium supplement, K-Dur 20. The FTC lost that case.
But in a private case that also involved K-Dur, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in New Jersey, backed the FTC position and found the deals to be illegal.
Opponents of pay-for-delay deals in the United States and Europe are not waiting for a high court decision, though.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, and Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, introduced legislation in February to make the deals illegal.
Previous bills have failed in part because of opposition from the drug industry, both branded and generic.
In Brussels, EU regulators have eight investigations under way involving more than a dozen drugmakers. The European competition regulator says the deals violate antitrust law.
The decision will be made by an eight-member court. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself, without giving a reason.
The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-416.

Since the original post above was written there have been a number of significant developments on this subject.  Here is a good article on these developments.

last modified 10/3/15

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

JP Morgan Chase Plays Fast and Loose with Escheated Funds?

For those not familiar with the term:
es·cheat  (s-cht)   n.
1. Reversion of land held under feudal tenure to the manor in the absence of legal heirs or claimants.
2. Law
a. Reversion of property to the state in the absence of legal heirs or claimants.
b. Property that has reverted to the state when no legal heirs or claimants exist.
intr. & tr.v. es·cheat·edes·cheat·inges·cheats Law
To revert or cause to revert by escheat.

[Middle English eschete, from Old French (from escheoir, to fall out) and from Anglo-Latin escheta, both from Vulgar Latin *excadre, to fall out : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin cadere, to fall; see kad- in Indo-European roots.

In other words, when you leave money at a bank for too long with no activity in your account, the bank must escheat the funds to the State.  Most State Treasurers in the United States have on-line search engines where you check to see if you have any escheated funds (sometimes called unclaimed funds, or lost money). I have successfully recouped thousands of dollars on multiple occasions on funds that insurance companies have placed with the state for who knows what reason.  Unless you check, you will never know if they are there.
I check my name and all my dependents on an annual basis. I also check my business names.
I once found funds in South Dakota because I used a bill paying service in Sioux Falls and the broker did not have my home address, so they sent the funds to that state.  I have successfully recouped funds in six states.
Most recently I have a very unusual situation that has developed:

XXX LLC (name has been changed to keep anonymity) is a domestic Limited Liability Corporation registered for doing business within the State of New York, having been organized on Feb. 2, 2005.  XXX LLC is currently recorded as being active and in good standing with the Secretary of State of New York.  XXX LLC has maintained a business bank account with JPMorgan Chase Bank.  XXX LLC does business in the Bronx, NY. The address registered with the Secretary of State for New York for filing of service is in Nassau County, NY.

The Office of the Comptroller of New York State has indicated that they are holding funds in excess of $100 that were escheated to them by JPMorgan Chase Bank during the calendar year 2012 on behalf of XXX LLC. They record the address associated with XXX LLC as being in Yonkers, NY (Westchester County).  The New York State Comptroller’s Office also indicates that the XXX LLC account was established through a branch of JPMorgan Chase located within New York State and that the type of property is “Cashier’s/Teller Checks”.

While I can provide documentation to the Comptroller of New York State as to  XXX LLC’s identity, including articles of organization, and, further, I can provide substantiation as to my relationship as managing member of that entity, I cannot provide any substantiation to the Comptroller as to the address that was provided by JPMorgan Chase that they show as affiliated with this entity as required by the Comptroller.  The Comptroller of New York has taken the position that until I “prove” to their satisfaction that the funds are XXX’s, they will not honor an application for claiming the funds.  The Comptroller’s Office is requiring me to provide some substantiation that the address in Yonkers is associated with the XXX LLC for which I am the managing member

I have done a search with the Secretary of State of the State of New York with regard to entity names and there is only one entity by the name of XXX LLC (either active or inactive) that is associated with that name or a name similar to it in New York State, and that entity is the entity for which I am the managing member. I have also checked NJ and CT. In NJ and CT, again, I find no entities with that name.

I have checked the internet for “XXX”. I find no indication that there is any other entity on the internet doing business with this name in the United States, or for that matter, anywhere in the world.

JPMorgan Chase has disavowed any knowledge about the funds that were escheated to the Comptroller of New York or their ability to respond to my inquiry about the funds.  They have directed me to deal with the Comptroller of New York State.

Further, it is my understanding that by banking regulation, JPMorgan Chase would have been required to obtain the articles of organization and other identifying information from XXX LLC before opening an account in the name of XXX LLC.  Since I am the representative of the only entity that could have opened such an account, the funds that were escheated to the Comptroller of New York State by JPMorgan Chase must have been those of XXX LLC (the one and the same XXX LLC for which I am the managing member) and no other.

On March 11, I filed a complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is the regulator of JPMorgan Chase, seeking assistance in this matter.  More specifically, I have asked OCC to require that JP Morgan Chase either:

1. correct the information provided to the Office of the Comptroller of New York State so that we may successfully claim the funds, or, alternatively,

2. Provide auditable substantiation to either me or the OCC that there is another legitimate entity with the same name as ours for which they escheated the funds to the Office of the Comptroller of New York State.

On March 19, I received a call from the executive office of JP Morgan Chase indicating that they have received a copy of the complaint that I filed and that they will respond in writing within 14 business days to both me and the OCC.

Through an unrelated sequence of events I have now learned that the Agent I retained for XXX LLC had maintained a lockbox with the same Post Office Box number in Yonkers New York that the Comptroller of New York State has associated with the unclaimed funds. So, it is clear that the funds are those of XXX LLC. I have now been attempting to get the proper documentation together so that I may claim the funds.

I have tried to get a letter from the Agent indicating that they maintained an Agency account at Hudson Valley Bank and directed my customers to remit their payments in the name of XXX LLC and in their name to that very lockbox in Yonkers, NY. The response I have gotten from the Hudson Valley Bank has been very interesting. They want to know the dates and number of checks that were not deposited in their lockbox in order for them to mail a letter of explanation to the New York State Comptroller's unclaimed funds department. Since I cannot provide that information they have been balking at writing any letter on my behalf. I have offered to indemnify them and hold them harmless for any claims they may sustain should they issue such a letter. Hudson Valley Bank's legal department is reviewing the matter.

I have also requested my Agent to issue a letter to the New York State Comptroller indicating that they are my Agent, that I have a contractual agreement with them, and that as part of the Agent agreement they maintained an Agency Account at Hudson Valley Bank and had remittances sent to the Post Office address in Yonkers New York. While I have not received that letter yet, they have indicated that they would send it.

I will post more on this story as it progresses. However, I must say that my recent interactions with JP Morgan Chase have been anything but friendly and enjoyable. I am glad that I have recently moved many of my accounts to other banks. For other information on JP Morgan Chase please see my other post.


I have now determined that my Agent also had instructions to other clients of mine to mail remittances to the same Post Office Box in Yonkers, NY and to make those remittances payable to them. The Comptroller of New York State also has funds associated with that address and my Agent listed in their database. I intend to pursue those funds also.


I have now searched the Comptroller of New York State for remittances to my previous Agent and have found that they are also holding funds there also. I am now pursuing those funds too.

I have now received adequate letters from Hudson Vally Bank and my Agent with regard to this matter. I have today filed a claim with the Office of Unclaimed Funds of the State Comptroller to retrieve those funds. I have sent them the letters from Hudson, and my Agent and the articles of organization of XXX LLC and a copy of my driver's license. I hope that they do not need any additional documentation. Shame on JPMorgan Chase for their behavior on this matter.
I will note when the funds are received or if there is a need for more documentation required.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Companies with Brick & Mortar and Internet Presence

When the internet was young and some brick and mortar companies set up internet divisions, they created real mosters.  The policies and inconsistencies created by many companies created a real headache for them in terms of the public's perception of them.  Thankfully, many of these companies have now worked out all the kinks with this duality and have actually benefited from the dual presence.
Many companies will now allow you to order on line and return at the store, or order on line and pick up at the store.

If you have some interesting variations or stories to tell about this phenomenon, I'd like to hear about them.

Please put your comment below so all can enjoy.

New Policy Changes at JPMorgan Chase

I have today received a Monthly Statement from Chase.  This is the second announcement of Policy changes within the month.  For the other one please see my other Chase post.
In this one they announce:

We will be making the following changes to the Deposit Account Agreement for Chase checking and savings accounts, effective March 24, 2013.
We have:

  • Added the following language to the Important Definitions section: Debit card transaction: Includes any purchase from a merchant using your ATM card or debit card.
  • Modified the agreement to clarify that we will only send one copy of any notice relating to your account, even if the account has more than one owner.
  • Revised our Funds Availability Policy.  Under Longer Delays May Apply, we describe circumstances where funds may not be available until the seventh business day after the day of deposit.  We are deleting the sentence saying that the first $200 from your deposit will be available on the next business day, so if we delay availability in those cases the delay may apply to the full amount of the deposit.

All other terms of your account agreement remain the same.  If you have questions about the changes, please call us at the number on the statement or visit your nearest branch.


What I find so interesting is that this very month I made a deposit and they tried to tell me the funds would not be available to me for seven business days. I brought in a Cashiers check from the bank across the street. What are they trying to accomplish here.

I am going to attempt to get a copy of the current deposit account agreement. I wonder if they are going to use the same technique as they tried last month, saying that the new agreement will not be available until March 24, 2013

As a result of the recent odd behavior at JP Morgan Chase I have closed the majority of my accounts, and moved all significant deposits to other banks.

Thanks Jamie for the forced change of banks. I will be moving the others shortly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Policy Change for JPMorgan Chase

On 1/18/13 I received an email from JPMorgan Chase:

Dear Chase OnlineSM Customer:

A message regarding "Our Chase Online Service Agreement and Bill Payment & Transfers Agreements will change on February 17, 2013" has been sent to your Secure Message Center. To see your message, log on to and click "Secure Message Center" on the My Accounts page. If you are already logged on to Chase Online, you can see your message(s) at any time by visiting the Secure Message Center.

The message will be available in your Secure Message Center until 04/18/2013.

Thank you for being a valued Chase Online customer.

This service message was delivered to you as a Chase customer to provide you with account updates and information about your account benefits. Chase values your privacy and your preferences.

If you want to contact Chase, please do not reply to this message, but instead go to For faster service, please enroll or log on to your account. Replies to this message will not be read or responded to.

Your personal information is protected by state-of-the-art technology. For more detailed security information or to update your privacy choices, go to our Online Privacy Notice. To change your e-mail address, please log on to Chase Online and click your e-mail address on the left-hand side of the My Accounts Page.
So, I went to my online account to find out what was going on.
I could not get access to the online no matter what I did.
I called Chase. They could not help me.
Later in the day I actually got online.  Here is the secure message:

Date:01-18-2013 18:00:00
From:Online Banking Support
Subject:Our Chase Online Service Agreement and Bill Payment & Transfers Agreements will change on February 17, 2013


We're making enhancements to Chase Online and Chase Mobile® Banking. As a result, we are updating our Chase Online Service Agreement and the Bill Payment & Transfers Agreements starting on February 17, 2013.  Here are the highlights:
  • We've added a section regarding Payments to Chase Loan or Credit Accounts.
  • The Online and Mobile Bill Pay Guarantee has been expanded to also cover Payments to a Chase Loan or Credit Account made from a Chase checking account, in addition to Online and Mobile Bill Payments.
  • Duplicate Payments: If you submit a duplicate Bill Payment request, an error message may be displayed on our website but you may choose to bypass the message and schedule the payment. If you submit a duplicate payment to a Chase Loan or Credit Account, an error message may be displayed and such duplicate payments may not be permitted. No error message will be displayed for duplicate payments made through different methods (e.g., Bill Payment and PFM) and the payments will be processed as normal.
  • If you are enrolled in Alerts or Chase Mobile, there may be a disruption in service when you change your communications service provider. 
We've updated the Chase Online Service Agreement and Bill Payment & Transfers Agreements to include this new information. You agree to these new terms and conditions by continuing to use Chase Online. The updated agreements will be available online on or after
February 17, 2013. To review the latest agreement, click "Legal Agreements and Disclosures" at the bottom of any page after you log in to Chase Online.
If you have any questions, please call us at
1-877-CHASEPC (1-877-242-7372).
Jennifer Myhre
Senior Vice President
Chase Consumer Banking
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC

Now, there are two problems here. First, there is no personal information here so why send it with an email saying there is a secure message. Why not sent an email with this information?
Next, the contents here is vague and you cannot tell what they are trying to do.  What's more, you cannot see the new agreement until such time as the new agreement goes into effect. So, I wrote to Chase to get a copy of the new agreement.


I received a secure message indicating substantial changes to the terms of the on-line service effective Feb 17, 2013. The message contained very vague statements. It also said that the exact terms and conditions would not be made available until Feb. 17, 2013. I need time to review those terms before that date so that I may make an intelligent decision as to whether I want to continue under those terms after that date and it will take me a considerable effort to change banks should I choose to do so. Please provide me with the complete text of that soon to be applicable agreement now so that I may review it.

Next, I got a secure response, but this time they did not send me an email to say that they had responded. I found it a week later.


We apologize for the inconvenience you recently 
experienced. We value you as a customer and want your 
Chase experience to be easy and satisfying as possible. 

As of this time, we are unable to send you a copy of the 
complete text. We will be sending you a follow up e-mail 
once we have the information available. 

If you have any questions or require further assistance, 
please e-mail us via the Secure Message Center or contact 
our Internet Service Center at 1-877-242-7372.

Thank you, 

Bea Sanoy
Internet Service Center

So, I responded

This is the closest thing to a non answer answer that I have ever seen. I will start preparing to remove my accounts from your bank. This is ridiculous. You ttreat your customers like dirt.

Upon completion of composing the message I got a message from the online system saying that they could not process my "Secure Email" that I would have to try again later.

This must be a total joke.


I have had more problems with the secure message server, so I have lodged a formal complaint at chase. In summary, these are the problems:

1. I received an email indicating there was a secure email for me that was a subject matter that did not require secure mail.
2. I could not get into the secure mail inbox even though I logged onto the on line banking service
3. When I did get on to the service, I discovered a vague message about a change that might affect me on Feb. 17, but there were no details.
4. I requested the changed terms and was told that I could not get those until they become effective (i.e., no review period)
5. The notification indicating that secure message with the response was not emailed to me as previously indicated that it would be.
6. The response was a non response.
7. The secure message server would not process my response to Chase in two different ways:
     a. It indicated that the server was not available, when clearly my response was sent and responded.
     b. It would not take the required information that I had to put in indicating the operating system and browser that I use.

I have now spoken to a Kevin Arnold at Chase who has taken down all this information and says that he will get me the information I need.

Dear Mr. Arnold,

I have heard nothing meaningful from you or anyone else at Chase with regard to the issues I have raised.
I must confess my befuddlement with Chase's behavior lately. Starting February 1, in anticipation of not receiving any clarification from Chase on the bizzarre email foray lately, I will start the process of moving all my accounts to other banks. I anticipate I will complete that process by February 17 for the deposit accounts. The mortgage loan will take longer.
I can't believe this behavior.

PS. I did receive another secure message that was meaningless, but, true to form, there was no email to me notifying me that the secure message had been sent three days previously.

I have now received another statement of policy change from Chase. I have started another post on that one. You may see that by clicking here.