business, modern problems, money

“You left me… just when I needed you most…”

When I was a youngster in the late 1970s, there was a popular song by the late singer-songwriter Randy Vanwarmer called “Just When I Needed You Most”. I am reminded of that song this morning, just after I called USAA to report fraudulent activity on my debit card. Some of my most faithful followers might remember that on March 8, 2022, I wrote a post about exasperating issues with USAA involving “heavy handed” fraud detection alerts. For the past few years, USAA has been shutting my debit card down at the drop of a hat. Every single time they did that, the charges they were detecting as potentially fraudulent were legitimate.

This morning, as I was checking my bank balance, I noticed that I had three weird charges that I know didn’t originate with me. One was for Insomnia Cookies, which I have learned today is a cookie bakery chain in New York City that, evidently, delivers at all hours. I had never even heard of Insomnia Cookies before today, but I have a pending charge from them on my debit card. One fraudulent charge was for Uber Eats, which does exist in Germany, but not in our area. I have never ordered from Uber Eats in my lifetime. The third charge, which was evidently reversed, was for Uber. I have also never in my life used Uber.

None of those wonky entries tripped USAA’s fraud alert system, even though they were “in person” charges for goods and services obviously made in places where I don’t live, and have never told USAA I was, or ever would be, visiting. And yet, last week, when I was bitching at USAA for denying my legit charges in Europe, they were questioning a charge to an Armenian Brandy Boutique in Belgium that I have ordered from multiple times over the past several years. What gives?

Sigh… I relate.

I spoke to a USAA member representative at 5:30am, who began the dispute process for me. Now, I have to wait until the new debit card gets to me, which will take some time. And I have to change all of the payment methods for which I’ve been using the USAA debit card and use credit until I get the new card. I don’t like using my credit cards unless it’s absolutely necessary. I spent too long getting myself out of debt to feel comfortable using credit cards for everyday purchases, even though I can and do pay them off immediately. It is annoying that I’ve had to call them so many times about having my card erroneously shut down, but now they’ve missed actual fraud. Clearly, USAA’s security system isn’t working to its fullest potential.

Meanwhile, last week, I made a request to PenFed that they open a new checking account for me. While I was talking to them, trying to get the new checking account set up, their computer system went down. I was told they would send me information about opening the account. It never arrived, so I’m going to have to call them again today.

When we first moved to Germany, I told Bill that I thought we should get a local *German* account. He disagreed, and got one at the credit union on post. Now, he’s changed his mind, and we’re going to look into opening an account that can be used locally so that this kind of crap might be less of a pain in the ass for us.

Dolly Parton did a very nice cover of Randy’s song. Looks like she’s being joined by Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski.

A number of my friends have told me they’ve stopped using USAA. I’m beginning to think maybe that would be a good idea for us, too. This decision is probably going to be painful and inconvenient. We’ve used USAA for so long that it feels like dropping them would be like divorcing a spouse we’ve been married to for decades. I have been a customer since 1994. Bill has been one since 1984. But unfortunately, it looks like the time has come to reconsider this business relationship. Or, at least start moving some of our business to more secure/less irritating outlets. I actually wanted to ditch USAA years ago, but deferred to Bill, since he’s the breadwinner. I think maybe he’s starting to see the light.

I also checked the Corona Warn app to see if I’m still getting a “red tile”. As of right now, I am. The tile is supposed to expire today, though. I haven’t been sick with COVID-19. Or, at least, I haven’t shown any symptoms of illness, other than my usual asthma cough. So, I guess the bright side is, I still have my health. At least for the time being.

I might be back later with a rant about current events or something else. For now, I think I’ll practice guitar and walk the dogs. That will help me blow off some of this irritation and tension.

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6 thoughts on ““You left me… just when I needed you most…”

  1. Karen says:

    We also have USAA for car and home insurance, but have always had local banking. I hope you all figure out a good solution since you are in Germany.

    • I always had local banking too, until I married Bill and we started moving constantly.

      We’ll figure something out. I think Bill has seen the light.

  2. You’d think that a company that was founded by military officers in San Antonio 100 years ago and caters almost exclusively to military or ex-military clients would have better service.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It seems that big corporations are not truly interested in serving their clients as well as they once did. Hopefully you’ll find a better financial services outfit than USAA soon.

      • Why, yes. Yes, they did. In 2019. A dude named Wayne Peacock is the CEO. And USAA sold one of its divisions to Charles Schwab.

        I’m having issues of my own – trivial in comparison, naturally – with Best Buy, another large corporation. But dang…you’d think that USAA would have better service for folks like Bill and you. That SNAFU with the fraudulent charges on your debit card is truly FUBAR.

      • Yes… and 2019 is when it got noticeably shitty. They have been getting rid of services and making things harder for overseas members.

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