Kitchen Sink Mishap and Adventures in Banking

This week has been less than sterling. Little things and big things have conspired to irritate and infuriate.

On the little, irritating things side, the lever on the kitchen faucet broke, as in snap-holding-a-piece-in-your-hand broke. fosteronfilm was turning on the water and then . . . he wasn’t.

Fortunately, this didn’t result in a panic-inducing geyser, or even a distressing dribble, for that matter. Still, it’s awkward doing anything in the kitchen without a ready water supply. After Matthew peered at the underside of the sink for a while and determined it was out of his DIY league, we phoned several plumbers and got a vastly diverse range of estimates from “I dunno how much it’d be; we’ll have to send someone out to look” (for what ought to be a basic installation) to “prolly around $175″ to “$250 not including parts.”

Grumbling, we went to Home Depot to pick out a new faucet ensemble, and while there, I noticed that they do installations.

“How much?” we asked.

“$90,” they sez.

Still painful, but far less so. And while boggling at the wide range of faucet options available and their correspondingly wide range of prices, I mused aloud to the hubby: “I don’t understand why there’s such a huge price difference; what makes this $250 faucet better than this $69 one?” A helpful assistant person in an orange apron replied, “It’s all about the name brand and the finish. But they’ve all got lifetime warranties, so just pick one you like that fits your sink.”

Not only sage advice, but it made my brain ping. “They’ve all got lifetime warranties?” I queried, eying the Moen faucets.

“Yup, these brands always do.”

So we went home, sans faucet. I looked up the model of our broken Moen, emailed the company a “Lifetime Warranty?” note, and they got back to us the next day with a “sending you a new piece, expect delivery in 5-7 business days.” Wow! We didn’t have to mail them the broken faucet or anything. I’m not sure what exactly they’re sending us. A new handle will not be useful, as the connection is snapped through, but if they’re sending a new faucet, then we’re all good*. I am optimistic.

On the big thing, making-Eugie-livid front, trying to deposit my check from Faeries was every bit the wacky fun I’d anticipated, so much so that I still have the check.

Went to my local SunTrust branch, handed my check to the teller, and asked what the conversion rate was and if there was a fee for depositing it. After squinting at my weird money-paper with the funny words and asking what a “euro” was**, the teller looked up the conversion on her computer (bad but not unexpected), then said it would cost me a flat $25 fee to deposit it. I squawked. She called for backup, and subsequently revised the fee to $10. I asked for documentation, as the fee structure I have from both the website and the handout they gave me detailing the features and fees of my account list no such fee, and I want to know what I’m paying so I can go price compare at other banks. She referred me to their financial services rep.

Off I went to powwow with the financial services rep. This woman was equally clueless so phoned her supervisor for advice. She then said $60 and handed over a printout (hot off her laserjet), and circled a section under “Research Services” called “International Collections.” I explained that this wasn’t “research,” nor was it a “collection.” Unless they’re using new and different definitions, in banking and finance, a “collection” is when a creditor tries to recover a past-due payment, and “research” involves hunting down information that is not readily available.

She insisted she was correct.

Then Matthew pointed out that above it was a $20 fee listing for “domestic collections,” and if what she was saying was true, then it would cost everyone $20 anytime they wanted to deposit a domestic check, which was patently ridiculous.

Nevertheless, she stuck by her bogus claim.

Realizing there was no one there who knew squat and they were making it up as they went along, I retrieved my check and we went home.

Once home, I called my bank’s customer (dis)service line, and, after summoning a supervisor for assistance, the phone rep. declared “10% of the amount of the check” to deposit my French check.

That brought the total number of different fee amounts quoted to me for depositing my check to four. Spurious much? And there was no one else higher up to talk to.

So I contacted the Better Business Bureau and lodged a complaint.

Can anyone recommend a new bank?


*Well, except for installation.
**Geez, you’d think I was asking them to explain string theory. It’s a simple international transaction. I want to deposit a foreign check. A bank ought to be able to handle that, and a bank’s employees should at least be familiar with what the standard currency in Europe is.

   


Writing Stuff

I’m having a dry spell in the sales department (wah!), so feeling disheartened and needy, I did a vanity search. One of my hits was the Institute of Children’s Literature!

Deborah Vetter, my Cricket and Cicada editor, is an instructor there, and in her bio, I’m listed as one of the “distinguished writers” she’s worked with, along with Nancy Springer and Aaron Shepard. Me! A distinguished writer! *squee!*

So yeah. That helped.

New Words/Editing:
- 600 on the Swan Lake story.
- 600 on an article for Writing-World.com. Several editing passes and sent off. Waiting is.
- 1500 on the freelance gig.

Received:
- Payment and contrib. copies from Paradox for “The Archer of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon.” Huzzah!

Club 100 For Writers
      40

500/day
      50

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44 Responses to Kitchen Sink Mishap and Adventures in Banking

  1. Yay for the lifetime warranty on the faucet! Major boos for the bank’s incompetence- that’s shocking!

  2. fuzzdecay says:

    whatever you do, do not go with wachovia. they held an out of state check (one from my school, of the same type of about 10 i’d previously deposited with no problem) for 3 weeks before without telling me and i didn’t find out about it until i got an overdraft notice to the tune of $360. the online banking said the money was there, as did the telephone banking. and they refused to refund any of my money.

    i got the wachovia accound because suntrust got crappy. but i’m back at suntrust. it’s all about the branch you go to. i go to the one in roswell on holcomb bridge (or is it mansell? it’s near the chik-fil-a) eventhough it’s 10 miles away because the women there are nice and helpful. the perimeter center branch are a bunch of douches that manage to screw up my deposits every time.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Damn, Wachovia is one of the banks I was looking at. They offered free domestic wire transfers with some of their accounts.

      it’s all about the branch you go to. i go to the one in roswell on holcomb bridge (or is it mansell? it’s near the chik-fil-a)

      I was thinking about trying to deposit my check at another branch as a Plan . . .E. If I go that route, I’ll try the Holcomb Bridge branch. I highly recommend you avoid the Haynes Bridge one in Alpharetta.

  3. terracinque says:

    Eugie, please do not pay Home Depot $90 to replace your faucet. I’ve done this sort of thing in the past, and I’ll do it for you and Matthew for a hug and vegetable pot pie. I have all the tools you’d need, too.

    I’m off work next Thursday and Friday, so if you have the faucet by then I’ll gladly bop up to Alpharetta and see what I can do.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Really? Vegetable pie, mongo hugs, homemade cookies, and our eternal gratitude. That would be so very appreciated. I’ll email you with status updates on the replacement faucet and pray that the cosmos delivers it promptly.

      Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!

      • terracinque says:

        I’ll email you with status updates on the replacement faucet and pray that the cosmos delivers it promptly.

        Sure thing!

        Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!

        Oh, tut-tut. First of all, you’d do the same for me; that’s what friends are for! Secondly, I don’t promise I’ll be able to do the replacement, but I’m reasonably sure I can; I’ve done similar but not identical jobs in the past.

        So at worst you’ll be no worse off, and at best I’ll have saved you $90.

        Thirdly, I have to get this sort of thing out of my system while I’m still a boy.

    • jimhines says:

      Ditto that. I’ve done it twice at my house, and if I can do it, it’s certainly not worth $90….

      Sympathies on the bank BS. Suddenly I’m feeling much happier about my local credit union. They cashed my Canadian check with no fee and no fuss last year. Unfortunately, they’re just in Michigan, or I’d send you over.

      • Eugie Foster says:

        Sigh. I did indeed contemplate transferring our accounts to a credit union. They tend to be far friendier than banks about nearly everything. Alas, credit unions seem to want you to be affiliated with someone in order to be able to join. Grumf.

        • jimhines says:

          Mine’s for state employees, but it just opened up to everyone. Most credit unions have some sort of membership hoop, but you might be able to find one that’s open….

          Maybe SFWA should start it’s own credit union. There’s a scary mental image for ya.

          • dean13 says:

            In California rules for joining credit unions are pretty loose. Everyone who lives in San Diego county can join the San Diego County Credit Union. I hope that Georgia has similar county based or parish based or city based Credit Unions.

  4. adobedragon says:

    Usually, Home Depot, Lowes, et al., have books (illustrated) that cover basic home repair stuff including faucet installation. They sometimes have free seminars showing “how to.”

    The faucet install is usually rather easy, though sometimes getting everything to seal up right a tad annoying. Hint: Don’t put stuff back under the sink until you are sure there are no eensy, wheensy, itty, bitty drips. Can be most infuriating.

    Also, don’t start the job at 7PM on a Sunday evening thinking you’ll have it all done in time for the work week. Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head.

    Pat K., veteran of many a home remodel/repair project

    • Eugie Foster says:

      It looks like is going to rescue us, but I will keep your words of wisdom in mind and make sure everything’s all sealed up before replacing all the under sink stuff.

  5. I keep hearing good things about Washington Mutual.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Washington Mutual, check. I’ll add them to my banks to research. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Always glad to help out my editor! ;-)

      • teratologist says:

        I’m sure there’s no bank that has all happy customers, but I thought I’d throw in that my partner opened an account with Washington Mutual when we first moved to NYC only to close it again within the month because of their ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary policies about holding checks.

        We both bank with North Fork now, and are pretty happy with them, but I’m pretty sure they’re only in the NYC area.

  6. nwhyte says:

    Hah. In New York, supposedly the home of all things financial, I wasn’t even able to cash a check in U.S. dollars, written to me by the U.S. government last year.

  7. ardath_rekha says:

    I was a customer with National City Bank before my divorce/bankruptcy/move, and may deal with them again if they’re willing to have me as a customer after all that, LOL… and they’ve always been really good to me regarding conversions. Several years earlier, I needed to send a friend an international check in English pounds, and I was able to get one through them. As I recall, they did charge a fee for that, but it was pretty reasonable. Two years ago, when I received a check from Amazon.co.uk for website commissions, in English pounds, I was able to simply deposit it into my account, and when the amount appeared on my statement, it was pretty much the precise conversion rate (as I’d looked it up on the Internet) with nothing missing for any fees.

    It’s possible that, had you just deposited the check, it would have gone through without any fees being charged during the conversion, and it was only because you got people who had no clue about that stuff involved that you started getting fees quoted at you. But it’s ridiculous that they couldn’t quote a solid, unmistakeable source in their regulations about the fees or lack thereof, too.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      National City Bank? Hmm. I haven’t heard of them. I’ll have to look them up too. Thanks for the suggestion!

      It’s possible that, had you just deposited the check, it would have gone through without any fees being charged during the conversion

      That had occurred to me. My next plan is to go to another branch, just hand it over, and see what happens.

      • ardath_rekha says:

        I was poking around on the Internet looking for info about that, and the weird thing was that I wasn’t finding much of anything. It doesn’t appear that most banks have any kind of disclosure about those kinds of fees… but I did find some references to Visa and Mastercard getting nailed a while back for “currency conversion fees” and being forced to refund customers. It’s very possible that there used to be fees for that, and no longer are.

        But I’m a little bit agog that a bank teller wouldn’t know what a Euro was. That just blows my mind. Apparently the rock I live under isn’t nearly as big as I thought, LOL!

      • basletum says:

        I bank at National City, too. Although I have a couple minor gripes about their Loss Prevention department; overall they’ve treated me way better than other banks had in the past. And being an international bank, you don’t have to have a seperate international bank account for overseas wire transfers.

  8. ellyssian says:

    When it comes to DIY, I always (try to) avoid the Three P’s – Plumbing, Painting, and Pelectrical (the p is silent… =)

    • terracinque says:

      Pelectrical (the p is silent… =)

      *giggle*

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Painting ain’t so bad; I’ve done painting. True, it’s a huge headache–always takes longer and requires more paint than you estimated, but it’s pretty straightforward: apply color to surface. Unlike (p)electrical and plumbing jobs, which scares me. So many opportunities for catastrophe, calamity, and cataclysm . . .

      • ellyssian says:

        I just tend not to have the patience for painting, which leads to too much paint all at once. Actually, I’m a bit better at it after having to do it as part of my job (although that was using an airbrush,) but I still try to avoid it.

        I’ve done electrical stuff with my dad, but I’d rather not take the lead on it. Hiring a good electrician is worth the price in peace of mind.

        Plumbing is just plain expensive. One of the wrenches in my dad’s collection is a flimsy piece of junk that’s only usable on one or two types of sink connections – while it looks like it’s on a par with one of those cheap $9.95 multi-tool pliers, it cost well over ten or twenty times that… (I had to buy it to replace a rusted out trap on a kitchen sink)

  9. amokk says:

    Faucets are easy once you’ve done one. Just pay attention when it gets changed. ;) If I was closer I’d offer to do it myself, but I’m not.

    As far as banks, we have Amsouth but they’re not the greatest. The commercials for Washington Mutual look cool, though, and we’d be tempted if they had a branch closer than 45 minutes away.

  10. “I’m listed as one of the “distinguished writers” she’s worked with”

    *am squeeing with you* :D

  11. keesa_renee says:

    I wish I could recommend my bank for you; they’re a little home-town branch where every teller knows me by name, I have yet to come across a hidden fee, and things almost always take less time than they estimate, not more. Alas, it’s probably not worth the drive every time you have to do a bit of banking…still closer than Michigan, though! ;-)

    I’ll bet my sister could fix your faucet for you, if we lived closer (and if I could drive in Atlanta!). I have yet to meet the home repair job that she couldn’t do, and that includes electrical. (She’s done most of the wiring in our house, actually…

    One tip: make sure to turn the water off at the shutoff valve before beginning repairwork. :-D That’s the one bit of plumming I’ve managed to learn over the years…and, of course, I learned it the hard way. :rolls eyes: Good luck getting it fixed, and here’s hoping for a better week next week!

  12. madwriter says:

    Maybe next time you can ask for a Paypal deposit. :)

  13. klandaghicat says:

    Breaking sink handles: 3 since working appliance delivery with . I have developed man-hands. Monstrous creatures capable of twisting the head off of a raging wildebeast, or something. I don’t touch nuthin’ with my hands unless I’m prepared to replace it, or know for a fact it is indestructable. Imagine trimming toenails on the boys, these days!

  14. norilana says:

    Eugie,

    Best of luck on the faucet situation. I have a Moen faucet now (last year with the complete kitchen remodel), it is a pullout and I am highly satisfied.

    As far as the French check, the sorry fact is, all banks are crummy about foreign checks, and the last time I tried to deposit one, Wells Fargo charged me $30 and lost the check for 90 days. Needless to say I am now with another bank (but it’s not all that much better where foreign checks are cocnerned).

    So, there is only one solution — always have yoru foreign money wired, it is far cheaper than checks. The fees are unavoidable, but still they are always lower.

  15. yansmom says:

    Sorry about the faucet and the run around with the check. I think that’s awful, too. Bank staff should know what the heck they’re doing. How infuriating!

  16. j_hotlanta says:

    Fixing the faucet with the factory part should be pretty simple. If Glenn5 can’t make it or needs some help let me know and I’ll pop over and do it. It should be a 5 minute job to drop in a new cartridge (assuming that they aren’t sending out a whole new unit (and, I PROMISE no duct tape!!!).

    I asked the SO’s advice about the check (she was with First Union for 10 years) and she suggested that you call the main downtown Suntrust office and ask for the “foreign department”. Every bank has one and they deal with this every day so should be able to give you accurate information on how this is handled. Her other advise is to look “in the book”/on the web for a local money changer or check cashing place that handles foreign checks…there’s probably one in Alpharetta somewhere.

  17. “Distinguished writer,” eh? I knew you when.
    On the bank side, we’ve been having good luck with Regions as far as customer service and low fees for extras go. They were also the only bank who did conversions when I was getting ready to go to Greece, but it took too long so I just converted “in-country.”

  18. dude_the says:

    . . . Heance the term “money sink”. . .

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