Saturday, January 19, 2013

Adios, JP Morgan Chase


Over the last few days, it seems we have been doomed to get under way no sooner than mid-afternoon, as we've been spending our mornings on the phone and the computers dealing with boat paperwork.  Today being Saturday, I had hoped to be on the road a little earlier, even given the time zone change, but it was not to be.  We are sitting in the parking lot of a Walmart in Cairo, Georgia (map), and we're stuck here for at least another half hour while I wait for a return phone call.

Even though we had hoped to get them earlier in the week, the wire transfer details for the seller's account came through last night.  This morning, Louise got online to wire the funds, only to be declined.  It turns out that Chase has a dollar limit on online wire transfers that is less than one tenth the amount still owing.  No problem, we figured; we'll just handle it over the phone. She spent about a half hour on the phone with them trying to sort it out, with no luck.

Apparently, Chase stopped accepting wire transfer requests over the phone last month, though we had successfully used this option in the past.  We were lulled into a false complacency by the fact that our online wire transfer to the insurance company yesterday went through without a hitch.  I called Chase back after Louise hung up, and my phone tells me I was on that call for an hour and 17 minutes.

After going through two levels of customer service who both insisted my only option was to go to a branch (the nearest branch to Savannah, Georgia is 153 miles away, in Jacksonville, Florida), I finally got a manager who, while unable to fix the problem, allowed that our own branch might be able to do this for us.  The branch where we opened this account, lo those many years ago when it was Washington Mutual, is in San Jose, California, and will not open today until noon Eastern Time.

So here we are, waiting to see if the San Jose branch will accept our signatures by fax and our instructions by phone to wire the funds to our seller's account in Savannah.  That would allow us to continue in that direction from here, and meet with the seller on the boat Monday to start going over things, per his suggestion.  We had set the official closing for Tuesday, knowing that Monday would be a bank holiday.

If we can not persuade the branch to take care of this, we will have no choice but to divert to Jacksonville.  In addition to adding 110 unnecessary miles to our trip (around 80 bucks), it means we will arrive in Savannah no sooner than Tuesday afternoon, squeezing down the time we have to deal with moving the boat and learning the systems to less than a week before we have to leave for Trawler Fest in Fort Lauderdale.

One thing is for sure:  If we have to drive to Jacksonville to wire these funds, we will be withdrawing our entire balance and closing all our accounts while we are there.  Louise is working right now on alternative banks which can handle our business moving forward.  As painful as it is right now to drive out of our way to find a branch, once we are on the boat it will be well nigh impossible.

Yesterday was also a short travel day, as we spent the entire morning and into the afternoon filling out insurance paperwork.  Among other things, I needed an action plan and a timetable to repair each and every one of the 30-odd deficiencies listed on the final survey report.  We did not get rolling until 2pm, and even though we had hoped to reach Valdosta, this was as far as we got before sunset.  At least there was a great Mexican joint three quarters of a mile from here, and the weather was pleasant enough to walk it.

Thursday was also a short day.  In addition to paperwork in the morning, we lingered a bit to take advantage of the hookups, and stayed nearly to our 2pm checkout time.  We ended up at a Walmart in Enterprise, Alabama (map) Thursday night.  It was not listed as No Overnight Parking in our most recent Walmart directory, but there were new signs in the parking lot proclaiming that fact when we arrived.  It was already past dark, and we did not want to drive another half hour to the Elks lodge in Dothan, so I went into the store to see if we could get permission.  They sent us to a far corner of the lot and let us spend the night, and I rewarded them by buying a camcorder in the morning, so we can record the systems walk-through on the boat.

We've been really enjoying US-84, a mostly new road for us.  It is part of the "El Camino East-West Corridor" which stretches all the way to El Paso, and if we do not divert to Jacksonville, by the time we arrive in Savannah we will have done most of the corridor's 1,730-mile length on this trip.  If we do divert, we will turn off US-84 in Valdosta to head south.

Photo by striatic, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Geesh. . . That sounds almost as bad as Bank of America!

  2. If you find an actual nomad-friendly bank, let us know. *grrr*

  3. Sean and Louise---

    You might find the in-house banks of major brokerage firms (Schwab, Fidelitty, etc.) easier to deal with, and more able to accommodate your needs.

  4. USAA is very good about handling things online and over the phone, if you have that option.

  5. I know your pain....I too have had a run around with Chase. It's unbelievable a bank that size hasn't entered the 21st century of banking.

    I have had much better luck with Bank America, unlike Grandpa Russ (above).

    Good Luck......eagerly awaiting to see the boat!

  6. I've been using a brokerage house as my main banker for years now and have never run into any of those kinds of limitations.... Your broker and his assistants know you personally and can do most anything... I've used UBS but any of the firms would be better than what you are experiencing... YMMV


  7. Wamu got me as a customer by paying me $100 to open a "free for life" account, Chase lost me by wanting to charge me monthy fees for the same account.

    Ing has online-only accounts, and gave me money for opening a checking account with them, but are now merging/changing names so we'll see how that goes.


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