Things are crazy at WaMu

A reader writes:

“I called WaMu yesterday. When I was telling a manager that I never received the free checks they said they’d send in the mail, and they took a hefty fee from my checking account.

The manager on the phone was rude by saying “not gonna happen” whenI tried talking over and over again. Then I called back and the lady is losing her argument with me and she transfers me back to the automated telephone menu, the next person hung up on me and I lost an hour of my life to these bastards. I hate WaMu and I hope we don’t bailout the banks. I love the House Rep.s for rejecting the bill.”

Seattle Times story on WaMu failure

Kevin Fujii with the Seattle contacted me about doing a story on the human face of the WaMu catastrophe:

“My name is Kevin Fujii. I’m a picture editor at The Seattle Times. And, Im wondering if you can help us out.

With all these stories we’re doing about the sell of WaMu, foreclosures, their failures, gov’t seizure, lay offs and such, I feel we’re missing something. We’re missing the people affected by this banking institution’s failure. “How does it affect the human condition?” I keep asking myself.

From reading your Web site, I gather you’re in Calif. Has anyone in the Seattle/Tacoma area who’s been affected by WaMu’s failures contacted you. And, if they have, would you kindly forward my email to them, please?

I would like to get a visual project of someting akin to “the faces WaMu failed”. Maybe a series of portraits or a multimedia piece for our Web site with stills and audio or a video piece.

I’m looking for people affected by WaMu’s failure. Maybe those who lost their homes because of the sub-prime mortgage mess, lost their job with WaMu and will openly criticize their former employer and any other way a Seattle-area WaMu customer/employee/contractor/client have been affected by their failures.”

If you are a victim of the WaMu failure, and want to be part of their story, please email Kevin Fujii at “kfujii at seattletimes dot com” (at = ‘@’, dot = ‘.’ and remove the spaces).

Goodbye WaMu hello Chase (Editorial)

Washington Mutual, it seems, has done everything wrong. My criticism of them started out a few years ago about their poor customer service. In the last year, as their exposure to the sub-prime lending debacle has come to light, the bank has suffered considerably in their ability to keep going as an independent bank, and their customer service got progressively worse. Both their customer service problems and their sub-prime exposure were related to the same core problem – poor leadership. I have always stated that my desire was for Washington Mutual to take the information I publish on this site and use it to improve their customer service; it appears that this is up to JP Morgan Chase now, which I hope is a much better bank.

To continue to provide a place where people can share their experiences, I have added as an address for this site. Because I don’t have any experience with JP Morgan Chase and I can only hope they are a better bank than WaMu was.

The next few months will be a critical time for all (former) WaMu customers. Please continue to send me your stories so everyone can see how the transition is going. If things get better or worse, people need to know about it.

If you are a JP Morgan Chase customer, all of your WaMu brethren want to know what kind of a bank they are getting; please send me your stories, both good and bad.



WaMu looking for buyer

As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, WaMu is looking to be bought.

It’s the poor leadership

“R” writes:


I am actually writing because I don’t entirely agree that washington mutual’s customer service sucks. I am only saying this because I worked there for a long time and also had an account there. However, the same can not be said for Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger. Kerry Killinger’s ridiculous antics and total greed have completely degraded the moral of employees. Washington Mutual in Seattle pays their tellers 11.00 dollars an hour to be berated, belittled, and generally used as a doormat while Kerry Killinger collects 300 times his salary as a nice little bonus (highest paid CEO on the west coast anybody?). The company also expected female tellers to wear shirts stating “WOOHOO” right across their chest region, often resulting in female employees being called woohooters girls. Try dealing with every scum bag in Seattle humilating you by make obscene comments and you may have an idea as to why our tolerance may be lower than it should… I don’t agree with the companies policies and selling information to other companies, nor do I agree with the system they use to “sell sell sell”… and I most definitely think the telephone banking system is completely flawed and horrible… but I am beseeching on behalf of the littler people of the company, be nice to the tellers… they don’t get paid nearly enough to be harrassed or screamed at. If you want to scream at someone, Go ahead… just ask for the district manager. Please note that I do understand your frustrations and I am only writing this because I have lived through the horrors of being a teller at a company that doesn’t do anything for the little people… who ironically do EVERYTHING for the company.

Thank you…

Former WaMu teller

p.s. I have had bad experiences with branches other than mine as well, but there are a lot of nice people that work for this questionable company.”

(Peter’s note: Thanks for your email. Thanks for reminding me that in the whole debacle there are innocents caught in the middle. I could not agree with you more about the poor management that WaMu has had; I experienced this myself dealing with the corporate office. I also think the poor leadership has put incapable people in the wrong positions, which is why so many people are writing me about dealing with incompetents at WaMu. But surely there are a lot of competent people that just want to do their jobs. My heart is out to them, as I have worked in dysfunctional companies before, and it is no fun.)

Dirty rotten scoundrels

Amy writes:

“First, I love that you have created a site like this, it’s the perfect place to vent AND serves a warning to people that haven’t yet been sucked in by WaMu’s claims.

I am a 25 year old female that works full time. I opened a credit card a few years ago with Providian. I loved the card, never had any problems, and was earning great rewards. Then Providian was bought out by WaMu. Up goes the limit (not by my request). Up goes the interest rate. Up goes the minimum payment.

Then, about a year ago, I made a payment using the bill pay service that is offered on their web site. I was told by the site that the payment would clear and be on time! Great, right? So I go out of town for the weekend. As I try to pay for my hotel, my credit card is declined. What? So I call WaMu. Well, my payment was one day late. And they lowered my limit to $1.00 above my balance. And charged me a late fee. Which put me over the limit, so I was charged one of those fees as well. And it was downhill from there.

Now, I’m over the limit (about $300, all in fees) and 46 days past due. And all WaMu can offer me is a 4 month payment plan. For 4 months they will automatically deduct $230 (that I don’t have, as I have lost my second job due to the decline of the economy) and the interest rate will be lowered to 14%. After the 4 months is over my interest rate will return to what it is now (I actually have no idea) and I will not be able to enter in to this type of plan for 12 months. Not an option.

I bet you’re wondering how I don’t know my interest rate. Well, there is no way to find out what you rate is on the website. I recently moved and changed my address through the site. Somehow, all my mail from WaMu (and WaMu only) is being returned even though I have verified my address over the phone twice. And everytime I ask over the phone what my rate is I get the run around… “Oh, I’m on the wrong screen, let’s just finish up what we’re doing here and I’ll pull it up.” They never seem to finish what they’re doing on that screen…

Back to the 4 month payment plan. I called once and was told they did offer long term payment plans but Icouldn’t commit to a dollar amount for a payment that day, so I called back 2 business days later. Then I was told that they don’t offer any kind of long term payment plan and was offered the 4 month plan. I was unwilling to commit to this, so I told Maria that I would consult with my financial advisor (aka my Dad! haha…) and call back. She said, “Well Miss Amy, I just want to let you know that the offers change every day and if you don’t agree to this today, you may not be able to get this great offer. ??? I told her that this practive seemed a bit shady to me… Well, she cut me off before I could finish my sentence and I ended up hanging up on her shortly after.

This is my problem: I want to pay back the debt that I have created. Washington Mutual does not want to help me do that, so my only other option seems to be just not paying it and paying that extra money on my other credit cards. Let them take me to collections. I can show a judge that I offered to pay money but they were unwilling to allow me to close my account and pay it off. By the way, I did this with my Bank Of America card and the experience was excellent! My account is closed, the payment is $16 lower than my minimum payment was before, and they lowered by APR to 10.25% from 28% without me even asking them to! Has anyone had any luck with WaMu, or should I wait and see if they will take me to court over $5500 on a credit card?

Thanks for reading my story,
Amy S.”

(My response)

Hi Amy,

I am equally shocked and not at all surprised that they would (a) lower your limit to $1 above your balance because you are late, (b) charge you a
late fee, and (c) charge you an over balance fee. I’ll be that somewhere in the find print they give themselves the right to do exactly that.

If you want to know why credit card companies do this, watch this video:

If the billpay thing that started this all is truly their fault, I would continue to call their customer service asking for managers and such and demand
that they accept responsibility for the mess and reverse all the charges. Do you have any printouts or email confirmation that can back your
story up? You could also try talking to their corporate customer satisfaction department; they were initially helpful when I contacted them. You
never know. Try calling their switchboard at (206) 461-2000 to find that department.

Incidentally, when I searched google for “washington mutual customer satisfaction department” my site was the first listing. Got a smile out of that one. 🙂

If that doesn’t work, I would just keep hammering on them for a more workable payment plan; keep asking for someone that has the authority to
do it if the person you are talking to says they don’t.

The danger with just letting them take you to collections is that WaMu will amend your credit report with some nasty information. It takes a long
time for that stuff to get off in my experience.

Good luck!


13 days for deposit to clear? WTF?

Alex writes:

“I’ve had several gripes with WaMu recently, and it has been with my online checking and savings accounts. No credit card problems or arguments about rates: these are problems with the fundamental mainstay of any deposits-based bank. That ought to tell you to run for cover if they can’t even run their basic business correctly!

Here’s my first and most recent gripe: they charged me $10 for an INCOMING wire. I have never seen that before. It might be standard practice nowadays, but I always thought that you pay that outgoing wire fee with whatever company/bank you wire from. I don’t know why your receiving bank would levy a fee on INCOMING funds – those are funds that they will be able to lend off of – but they took a $10 “commission” for doing nothing other than saying “yes, we will accept this wire.” Bastards.

My bigger gripe concerns a large deposit made recently. I had never had deposit problems until then; once in a while I would send in a deposit, and it would get posted almost immediately to my ledger balance, and after 2-3 days on my available balance. However, with this deposit, it took them 13 business days, 15 if you count Saturdays. I count Saturdays because they are open, which means they are doing business, which means they could be processing customer requests. They claimed that my deposit would be available in 11 days. That is absurd to begin with, but the fact that it took 15 business days (which equated to almost three weeks) is criminal. It basically means that WaMu took the liberty of sitting on MY money for almost three weeks, collecting interest on it, and told me I could not touch it.

I called numerous times with complaints, and no one was able to help. No one even offered to ask a superior or see what they could do. Along the way I changed my online bank code, and WaMu’s phone-banking system didn’t process THAT for a few hours, so I couldn’t even access my accounts. That’s a chump mistake in these days of computers and high-technology.

What REALLY made me mad was comparing WaMu’s service to that of my other bank. After my deposit at WaMu finally cleared, I transferred most of it to another bank. This bank was able to process the whole thing within 3 business days … THREE, compared with 15 for WaMu.

I am in the process of closing my account with WaMu, and would highly advise you do the same, before their new CEO takes some money from you for either making a wire into their bank, or – hell – for his great new salary.”

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