Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Bank shot

The other day, I got a sinister and threatening letter from Bank of America telling me that “immediate action is required to update your information by June 20, 2018” or, I guess, the government would force them to buy another purveyor of failed subprime mortgages and stick us all with the bill again.

The thing that made this a head-scratcher is that the letter arrived at my home (not my corporate office), and seems to indicate that I, Lee Wochner, am a business. I am many things, but I am not a business. Corporations may be people, as we know, but this person is not a corporation.

I do have a corporate entity, but it operates under a different name — okay, you can find it here — and it doesn’t operate from my home address. So, shockingly, somehow this big banking entity has made a mistake.

I figured I’d do something about the letter, that something being visiting my longtime banking officer at Bank of America, because I also needed to order checks for my writing account, and I wanted to make sure the info was right since I no longer had any of the checks on hand. (I keep separate books, and therefore separate checks, for my income and expenses as a writer. I do this because it’s proper, and because the GOP controls the White House and Congress, and I want them having as little of my money as possible, and this proves the tax-deductibility of all those expenses. From some of the savings, I make repeated contributions to Democrats. So I think it kind of balances out.)

But before I could set up an appointment with my banking officer, Bank of America called me. (They must have answers to this form!) Unfortunately, the very nice but extremely solicitous and sloooowwww-talking southern lady named Helene called me right when I was on deadline, and right when I was 70% of the way through writing the thing I had a deadline on. My assistant asked me if I wanted to take the call, and I did, but I wanted to get off as quickly as possible before I lost the thread of what I was writing. So, about 60 seconds into Helene being very nice and very kind and very slow, I said, “I’m sorry, Helene, I’m going to fast-forward. You’re being absolutely terrific, but I was in the middle of something and I need to get back to it. So here’s the situation.” And then I laid out for her that I don’t own a business that runs from my home, the business I do own doesn’t operate under my name, and I don’t know how to properly answer the questions that Bank of America suddenly needs to have answers to, questions like “Country of legal formation”; “State of legal formation”; “Physical location” that to me sound, well, ill-intended. Why now? Did I mention my (justified) paranoia about Trump?

(Side note: Two days ago, Robert Reich said there were six political parties in America. Evangelical Republicans; Mainstream Republicans (i.e., Wall Street); Populist Republicans (Tea Party & Libertarians); Mainstream Democrats (i.e., Wall Street); Progressive Democrats; and — wait for it — “Trump.” Yes, “Trump” was a party unto itself. Then, today, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, a guy who should know about these things, said there is no Republican party, that the thing he used to belong to is gone, and now there is only Trump. So you start to see why Trump colors my thoughts about so many things.)

Seven minutes of conversation with Helene revealed that she had no idea how I should fill out the form properly. Yes, I do some banking with Bank of America. I have several accounts with them and — full disclosure — also own some stock in the company. I like the convenience of Bank of America, I like my personal banker a lot, and whenever I feel they’ve overcharged me for something (some fee), I’ve made a call and they’ve reversed it. But this form was positively Kafkaesque. I had been invited to a special audience at the Castle, as it were, but there was no way into the Castle and no way to keep the mandatory appointment. Helene was sure that I own a business named “Lee Wochner,” which I don’t, but she could also see that I have a business relationship with Bank of America under another name and address, while I do have a personal banking relationship that operates out of my home address. So, really, there was no way to respond to Bank of America’s insistent query (both the letter and form, plus the phone call), because their baseline information was wrong.

This afternoon, after going to the swearing-in of a very good man (a close acquaintance) as the chief of police of a neighboring city, I stopped in to see Jackie, my banking officer. She’s been my banking officer for more than 15 years. She read the form, she logged in and looked at my account, and said something like “This is all wrong.” So tomorrow she’s going to call corporate, back East and down South, and try to straighten it out. She asked to keep the letter they’d sent and wanted to know if I wanted a copy. “It’s not my problem, Jackie. It’s Bank of America’s. So I don’t care.”

She also ordered new checks for my writing account. She suggested that I place the order for 42 checks. That seemed like too few. Then we confirmed how many checks I wrote in 2017: All of 19. (Everybody else, I paid online somehow.) So, yes, I ordered enough checks to last more than two years. That’s the state of banking today.

One Response to “Bank shot”

  1. Dan Says:

    Have you ever thought of wearing a false beard & sunglasses when you visit your banker? I always get prompt attention….

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