adventures in awesomeness…

Adieu Paris.

Day Nineteen of Twenty.

It was too early. We had too much stuff. How could we possibly make it to the Metro with our feet cut, bruised, and blistered so? I attempted to abandon my luggage several times that morning.

We flew from Paris to London in the Air France Airbus A380.

Now that is massive.

I guess it was special because everyone was shooting photos and then we got a certificate of flight afterward. Oh. Thanks. Maybe the pilot should concentrate on keeping that big ass thing in the air instead of autographing certificates.

Three hours in London Heathrow. I spent most of it asleep on the toilet.

Me… dying slowly inside.

Robert prepares for his last foreign meal.

We board. I passed out over Iceland and didn’t wake until we hit the U.S./Canadian border. Yay, we’re home! Four hours later we landed in SFO. My luggage and I are reunited. Luckily they don’t charge us for trolleys. I guess the don’t want disillusioned Americans to flee back abroad where the luggage trolleys are always free. Heh.

Roshani met us at baggage claim with a big smile and a warm hug. It was sunny outside. It was good to be home.

Day Nineteen of Twenty. An American accent never sounded so good.

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Bailing Out Bad Banking Practices

I’m in a strange mood today. I don’t know how to categorize it or pin point it, but I’m just feeling off. It may be because of my big, blabber-mouth blogs. It may be because I didn’t get the memo about the Omelet Parlor when it seemed like I should have. It could just be the rain or that I didn’t drink water yesterday. It could be that my messages go unanswered or the fact that I’m living in limbo with no clear or immediate future, aimlessly floating around like Family Guy’s vacation to Purgatory. But lets blame it on the random charge to our Chase checking account for a “Leisure Rewards Program” with a $25 annual fee that no one recalls signing up for on a card number that no one can find. Because we all know it’s more fun to blame others than yourself. =D


$25 bucks may be chump change to some, but that’s a weeks worth of Starbucks for me and my brood. So I get Matt to call Chase and get to the bottom of thing. As he’s on the phone, I also ask him to find out what has happened to our new ATM Check Card, because the old one has been canceled and our Netflix payment didn’t go through. While Matt deals with customer service, things slowly form together in my head. The canceled card. The Leisure Rewards charge for an unfamiliar credit card. The missing ATM card… something is fishy. The banker who set up our new ATM card scammed us.

I worked in banking for a little over two years (during my 5 year – black out stage of life) with Wells Fargo Bank. While they touted community, customer service, and the whole “stage-coach” San Francisco heritage, Wells Fargo had actually been bought out several years ago by the Norwest Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.* And with that acquisition, Wells Fargo went from being an expensive bank with excellent customer service, to an expensive bank with questionable customer service, pushing sales. Opening a new checking account? That’s a $5 referral bonus for the teller. But what if they already customers? Push the add-ons: Savings accounts (with a $300 minimum monthly average balance or you are charged a $3 fee that, if not watched – will deplete your savings. I came across many customers who never knew their savings had been nibbled away until they were charged an overdraft charge due to a service charge fee. Nice.) Direct deposit, online banking, bill pay, overdraft protection, credit cards, credit cards with overdraft protection. Each equal a $2 referral bonus. It was being pushed on the customers like super-sizing your fries at McDonald’s. Why? Because each time you sell a product to a customer, it makes it that much harder for them (YOU) to leave the bank. Even when the service goes shit down the drain. Which was starting to happen. Customer service became less important. If employees didn’t meet their sales quotas, they were out (even if you had given 20 years of service), replaced by a short order McDonald’s line cook who could bang out numbers. But what happens what happens when you sacrifice customer service and good, loyal employees for money driven robots? You end up with a $25 Leisure Rewards Program charge, a canceled ATM card and no way to pay your Netflix bill.

So back to our scheming Chase banker. Basically, she needed to make her sales quotas. So she looked up our account and saw what she could sell us. Fine. Do your job. Make sure we have all the products we need to make our banking life easier. But Matt already had three Chase credit cards (all bank acquisitions: WaMu, BankOne, and FirstUSA), checking account, savings account, direct deposit, online banking, bill pay, and a Visa check card. He was pretty much set. However, there was one thing she could do when she ordered us a new ATM card. She could upgrade it to a Leisure Rewards Visa check card. Ching! Sale. And we, the customer would never be the wiser. But did she ask us if we wanted this? No, she did not. Maybe she knew we would say no. Maybe she was shy and didn’t want to be turned down. Perhaps she had intentions of going back and waiving the fee to cover her tracks and simply forgot. Maybe she was just a lazy, lying cheat. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that she ordered it WITHOUT consent, causing us to incur a fee, and then we had to use up our precious time to call customer service and fix the mess, all for a $2 sales referral. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Bad, bad, banker.

But how do you know this, Jessielah? How?? Back up your answers with credible evidence? (I do possess a Bio BS after all.) Because when I worked at Wells Fargo, these were common business practices. They recently hired a new, young Personal Banker II at the Financial District branch I worked at (before the bank carried cash) who claimed to be a big hot-shot. He was going to drum up a ton of sales from all of our imaginary customers.  Now I would upsale online banking and bill pay to everyone who came in, because they always came in to do dumb stuff like check their balance. “Wouldn’t it be nice to do this from your computer than to trek all the way down here? One customer said that he didn’t want to put me out of a job, har har, but for the most part, people agreed to sign up. But that was not enough for hot-shot Personal Banker II. After each of my customers would leave, he pulled up their accounts and order them new Check Cards. Now these didn’t cost $25, but it was dishonest and a way of scamming the system to meet quotas in order to keep your job. And it is a burden to the customer, who’s normal functioning card suddenly stops working (how embarrassing!) mid purchase. Now they have to call customer service or visit their local branch and then wait 7-10 business days for their new card to arrive. All for a $2 referral.

And this is what happened to us. One canceled card, no replacement, and a $25 fee. Nice. Way to go Chase. And this is what our taxpayer money goes to – bailing out bad banking practices to make the rich richer, the poor poorer, while screwing the middle class.

Takes boys from podium and steps up to the mike

Things should have failed. Maybe that is the wake up call we as a country and a world economy needed. Guess what? 80K a year isn’t rich. You are NOT among the top 1%. Not even the top 5%. So stop voting Republican to save fucking $50 on your taxes. So maybe you don’t need the brand new gas guzzling SUV. Maybe you really can’t afford the half a MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE. Maybe middle class isn’t middle class, maybe it’s working poor. Because if you lose your job, you’re not so deep in the shit that you’ll be homeless in a week and you won’t be able to feed your kids. Stop harassing poor mothers to have babies (pro-life my ass), then scoff when they can’t afford to feed them (maybe they were considering abortion for a REASON!?!). Stop locking up the baby formula and the funds for new school supplies, books, and education. Stop force feeding commercials that tell you that you can live like a rapper or rock star (ala MTV Cribs), splurge like Paris Hilton, and drive a car with a $700, 7- year monthly payment that you have to GIVE BACK at the end of the lease.Just charge it! Finance it! Lease it! It’s the new AMERICAN DREAM! Consolidate the rich, dumb down and debt-out the middle class and stomp down the poor. But they didn’t fail. American is in desperate need of major surgery and we just gave her a 1.2 Trillion dollar band-aid and two Advil to knock out the pain of life. Sigh. A revolution should be stirring, a revolt rising. Alas, we’re too busy being comfortably boiled into Chinese Dumplings.

Steps down from podium so the boy can go back to playing in the sink.