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Have you ever tried to resolve a dispute with a corporate entity: a bank, a car rental agency, a credit card company? How did it turn out? Most times–I’m guessing–you just gave up without getting your problem solved.
A couple of years ago, Chase Bank flagged a fraudulent transfer out of my checking account. Three thousand dollars of my money slipped into the account of a stranger through Chase’s Zelle digital payment network.
Chase admitted that the transfer was unauthorized and that I was not at fault. But it refused to return my money. The word came down from on high: Once the money is transferred through Zelle, it cannot be recovered.
My wife and I happened to be Chase Private Clients at the time because we had some retirement savings with Chase. Made no difference.
I emailed the Chase broker, who was supposedly handling my money. He called me on the phone and asked me not to communicate with him by email because it could cause him problems with the SEC.
I made numerous phone calls to Chase representatives, and I spoke to a different person every time I called. No satisfaction.
Then I switched tactics.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
I made a phone call to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. To my surprise, someone answered my phone, took my complaint, and assured me that Chase would be notified that same day.
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Then I filed a complaint with the Federal Banking Commission and the Louisiana Banking Commission. I also discovered I could file a lawsuit against Chase in a Louisiana small claims court. The cost? Only $25, and I could file it electronically from my home computer.
Small Claims Court
I was typing up my lawsuit when a Chase representative from “Corporate” called. His voice sounded like James Earl Jones–in other words–the voice of God.
“Mr. Fossey,” he intoned in a deep, stentorian voice, “we are going to return your money.”
We all know that big, multinational corporations have insulated themselves from their customers. You simply can’t get through to someone who has the authority to fix your problem.
Here’s What You Need to Do
- Be dignified. Don’t curse, yell, or threaten the human robot you talk with on the phone.
- Be patient and persistent and keep records of your communications.
- File complaints with any federal or state agency with regulatory authority over the corporation that is stonewalling you.
- As a last resort, sue the offending party in small claims court.
I haven’t actually had to file a small claims suit against a corporate entity. So far, I have gotten my disputes settled through persistence. But I think it can be a handy tool for confronting a recalcitrant corporation.
You can represent yourself in small claims court. You don’t need a lawyer. And in Louisiana, you can sue a corporation doing business in the state through the Secretary of State’s Office. Your state probably has a similar process for getting service on corporations.
Our soulless corporations get more greedy, more arrogant, and more indifferent to their customers with each passing day. If you get stiffed by one, you should fight back.
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