PNC= Pervasive Number Confusion

The humans have had the same bank account since the Miocene. It was the human female’s before they got married. That was with Guaranty Bank. Then it became Southwest Bank. Then BBVA. Throughout all of the name changes–and location changes!–the account number remained the same. The human female had it memorized.

Earlier this year, though, the humans were notified that BBVA had been bought by PNC. The dire warnings communications started arriving in August.

What did the humans need to do? It says, right up there: “Take any action applicable to you.” As in, “We’re changing, there’s nothing you can do about it, and any work will need to be done on your part. We don’t care.”

As you may have guessed, I was part of the changeover team, and I am so, so proud of my efforts.

Studying this Orange Booklet and all the other mailings pointed out one crucial bit of information: The routing number and bank account number were going to change. The bank would close as BBVA on October 8 and reopen as PNC on October 12. From the 9th to the 11th, all the customers would be in a vague, formless, currencyless limbo.

Cue panic. On Asgard, everything is done with barter or gold coins–or magic. On this rock, though, everything depends on that 9-digit routing number and that 10-digit account number. The humans scrambled to notify every entity that either puts money into or takes money out of their account.

Of course I assisted. Here’s how it unfolded.

They’re Really Swamped (TRS), the retirement pension system that puts money into the account, was the most critical. TRS is very hard to get hold of, but when the human female finally managed to contact a living human being, she was told that a change request can take up to sixty days to process. Both humans had to stop direct deposit of their pension checks, wait until the changeover happened, then file a change of direct deposit info form, including a cancelled check, which they don’t have because the bank couldn’t even order checks until the switch. So now they are getting paper checks in the mail for some period between now and sixty days, at which point they will have to log back in to their accounts to see if the paperwork was received and put through.

PayPeople: The humans could change the info online after the changeover, which looked to be very simple. PayPeople, however, needs to verify that the linked bank account is a good one, so two very small amounts were sent to the new account now linked to PayPeople , just to establish that it exists. Then the money was taken back out. The human female had to go online with PayPeople, tell them the amounts of the two deposits, then confirm the new account and delete the old one. They think it works now. We shall see.

Charity #1: It was easy to get hold of these people, as they know the humans personally. The accountant wrote herself a sticky note and put it in her planner on the day that the automatic withdrawal happens every month. We shall see if the change is effected…

Charity #2: This charity draws on the 20th of each month. The human female called, left a message. When the helpful person called back, the human female almost didn’t answer since the call was from an Unknown Number in Kansas City. Turns out it was an actual Helpful Person who was able to take the new information over the phone and who then sent a paper letter confirming the changes. I let the human female have this victory, because I knew what was coming.

Charity #3: This charity draws on the 15th of the month, so timing was critical. When the human female called, the person she spoke to told her that the September automatic withdrawal hadn’t happened, even though the human female could look at the BBVA account and see that it had. She got put on hold and was later disconnected. After the changeover, she was able to call back and change the information over the phone. We’ll see if it actually worked…

Insurance Carrier #1: The telephone number on the humans’ original policies is no longer in service, so the female had to Google around to find one that works. She got put on hold, then disconnected. The person she ultimately spoke to emailed her some forms to fill out, with the admonition that they had to arrive after October 1 for the October 12 changeover, so they wouldn’t be put through whenever they arrived, if it was before the changeover. The human female mailed the forms on October 1. When she followed up with a phone call post-change, the person on the other end said the forms never arrived but she was happy to process the change over the phone. The human female *thinks* the change has been made, but she’s keeping an eye on things…

Insurance Carrier #2: This was my favorite! It is a good thing that the operators at this company are always kind and helpful, because the humans are now on a first-name basis with them and will probably be inviting each other to barbecues and exchanging Yule cards. When the human female first called, she was told that she and the human male could each set up an online account and manage it from there. The automatic withdrawal happens on the 10th of the month with this outfit– which would be right in the middle of the Great Bank Account Gap. The way around this was for the humans to each log in, change their account from automatic withdrawal to direct billing via paper bill, and then–after the change–log back in and provide the new electronic funds authorization. Not so bad. Things got interesting, though, when the humans logged in and saw that they had a “billed through” date in October and a “paid up through” date in September (only it wasn’t presented that succinctly), and things were a little confusing. Did they owe for October or not? They couldn’t remember if they’re paying ahead or not. After the changeover, the humans dutifully logged back in, downloaded the forms, and filled them out, and the female uploaded hers. There was still some question about whether they owed a payment or not, so the male called (hello again, old friend!) His account had some odd amount in it. Apparently, the last time the premium increased, his automatic withdrawal took the old amount one month, so he owed a little. He got that straightened out, but was then told that the human female’s form had arrived but had somehow–even though she provided the new bank account number–was put through as direct billing (send paper bills) rather than auto withdrawal, so he had them fix that. Then, to put the cherry on top of the whole mangled sundae, he was able to change his information over the phone. Or so he thinks. We shall see.

So how did it go with the actual bank? It’s a good news/bad news sort of thing. Good news: The human male was able to call in and activate his new debit card on one try. Bad news: The human female couldn’t get through on the first call but was eventually able to do it. Bad news: She tried logging in to the new account and was told she needed to select a new user name, though the system seemed perfectly happy with the old password. Good news: the transaction info from the BBVA account is still accessible. Bad news: The available BBVA statement shows only dates and amounts but nothing about to whom the amounts were paid, so balancing the checkbook this next time is going to be a lot of fun. Bad News: Something in the human female’s online exploration of the new account triggered an Alarming Email saying that an email address for the account had changed! She needed to call PNC immediately. So she did. This was on October 12, the day of the Great Changeover. What she got–and I love this part!–was a recording saying that due to high call volume, they were “Not taking calls at this time. Call again some other time.” Not “we’re very busy, please stay on the line.” Not “leave a message and someone will call”. Not “leave your number and when your place in the queue comes up, someone will call.” Just, “Nope.” Then (Bad News) the human female got an email that said “Error C05118441–Non-categorized transactions–contact the bank for more information!” Does that refer to the statement with just amounts? Or something more sinister? Who knows! And then, just for final Bad News funsies, I did a little mail switcheroo, and it looks like all of the general emails from the bank are going to come to the human female and start out, “Dear Human Male…” Good luck getting that sorted.

What still doesn’t make sense: The humans can use their remaining BBVA checks until new ones can be printed. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Oh, and the first email the human female got sort of implied that automatic transactions had been rolled over for them, despite what the Orange Booklet had said. So we shall see whether the next round of deposits and withdrawals happens correctly, or whether some or all happen incorrectly, twice, or not at all. Stay tuned, because I think I may not be done with this yet.

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