October 2010


I’m Still Cheesed at VR Bank Weimar

Usually it’s enough to post a short thing for me to calm down, but the truth is I am still fuming about VR Bank Weimar, eG, the bank that served me for six, long, awful years.

It took moving to Berlin for me to finally do what I should have done two years ago after their customer “service” left me watching plane ticket prices shoot upwards, unable to buy a needed plane ticket.

In June I opened an account with Deutsche Bank and I have been incredibly happy with the bank so far. The customer service is fantastic—I have an email address for a banker and every time I’ve emailed her, the response has been timely (one time a mere 13 minutes!) and reply perfect.

Actually the 13 minute response was just this week: for some reason when I altered my address on the account to reflect my new apartment the credit card billing address was not updated. Admittedly this was a mistake on the bank’s part, but the banker apologized and updated the address in the space of 13 minutes.

That’s all it took: 13 minutes. 780 seconds. Less than a quarter of an hour.

And that was by e-mail. I didn’t have to call. I didn’t have to visit the office in person. I didn’t have to do anything but write a brief email note asking for the address to be updated.

Really, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move to Deutsche Bank and I wish I had done so after the last time VR Bank Weimar really fucked up my life.

Last week was the first time I had the confidence to close my VR Bank Weimar account after opening my Deutsche Bank account. The lag was to allow me to update the addresses for all my automatic payments and ensure that the last few Weimar-specific one-time things were finished being taken out. (Say, for example, my last electricity bill.)

Accordingly I wrote them a brief letter directing them to close my account and to transfer what remains (23.08€) into my Deutsche Bank account. I left money in the account because I assumed that there is some kind of stupid fee to close my account.

So this is what I got in return: voicemail on my (Berlin) home phone number spoken in rapid fire German of which I could diagnose the telephone number plus the words “EC-Karte” and “MasterCard”.

This caught me off guard on two fronts: First I didn’t realize that I had voicemail until my phone started calling me—then I discovered that I had messages dating back several weeks from friends—Oooopps. Secondly, I never gave VR Bank Weimar my phone number in Berlin. I even double checked the letter I sent them asking to close my account and nowhere on the letter did I disclose this information.

So I asked one of my friends to call and it seems that some dimwitted VR Bank employee has decided that in order to close my account I must cut up the two cards and mail the pieces back to the offices in Weimar.

Never. Going. To. Happen.

Not even in their wildest fantasies will this come true.

I assume that they think I am some kind of dimwitted customer who thinks that despite the fact that the accounts are closed that I can get money and make charges using the cards that have not yet “expired”.

Maybe this employee’s actions say more about VR Bank’s other customers that this would even be a concern, but I suspect it says more about VR Bank Weimar itself that such a stupid idea would even occur to them.

I subsequently wrote the bank a second letter informing them that I have destroyed the cards and thrown the pieces away. I’ve also told them that VR Bank Weimar is not authorized to ever call me again.

This is reminding me why I hated the bank so much just two years ago. As you might recall, two years ago the bank’s credit card database was compromised and the bank immediately froze my credit card. Fortunately it happened the day after I returned from a trip where I had been using the card. Had they frozen the card while I was out of town, I would have been up shit-creek without a paddle.

There was no recognition by the bank that the freezing of my card might be inconvenient and expensive. Thanks to the delays in getting me a new credit card (it took FOUR weeks for a new card to get issued), I ended up spending an extra 100€ on plane tickets as ticket prices went up. The only compensation VR Bank Weimar ever offered me was to refund the annual fee for the period of time I was unable to use the card, something that amounted to a whopping 2€.

I might note, just for comparisons sake, that one of my US credit card numbers was stolen in July. The bank offered to send me, overnight, a new card. VR Bank Weimar didn’t give a shit.

My favorite moment during this debacle was when I got the credit card statement from the bank—the credit card statement that came with coupons that could only be used with my VR Bank Weimar MasterCard: the same credit card that I couldn’t use because VR Bank Weimar hadn’t yet issued me a new credit card.

VR Bank Weimar didn’t then, and doesn’t now, care one iota about its customers.

The account is now closed, and the remaining money, minus a 12.50€ fee, has been transferred.

Good riddance.

Based on my experience with VR Bank Weimar, I would never use a VR Bank again.

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