US Bank - its called customer service because you have to offer service...

Yes its time for another rant and you are getting this one fresh off 20 minutes on hold...

I have an HSA account with US Bank - its like an FSA account for self employed people. They give you a debit card for trips to the doctor etc so you just pay and it comes right out of your account. The account was super easy to set up online and I can check my balance etc online so you would think this means that US Bank get it when it comes to the internet. Sadly not.

I have a very simple question for them. If I go to Safeway and buy a $12 bottle of Tylenol then legally I can claim that $12 on my HSA. Since I spent $150 at Safeway I'm not going to illegally use the debit card on my HSA account for the whole $150, nor am I going to split my shopping and say 'put the Tylenol on this card and the rest of my shopping on this card'. So surely there is some way to claim back that money from the HSA. I assume I can't go and just withdraw cash or write myself a check since there is no paper trail that I am spending the money on qualified health items. So 3 weeks ago I called US Bank - their phone system is terrible it never mentions HSA anywhere so you have to press 0 a bunch of times and then ask. They transfer you to the Retirement and IRA group - hmmm that doesn't sound right but it is. The lady I talked to seemed to know little about what I was asking. Eventually she finds the form and promises to send it. Of course I have received nothing.

So yesterday I decided to use their online form and I got a very fast reply saying 'none of our HSA people answer questions online please call them on this general number. Thank you for using US Bank please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you'. As you can imagine I have filled them in on several things they can do for me.

Today I bit the bullet... waded through the phone system again and then sat on hold for 15 minutes. I asked my question and the guy puts me on hold... another 5 minutes go by before he comes back. I guess my question was unusual. He tells me there is no such thing as a claim form. So how do I get my money back? Well he suggest - send your receipts to your insurance company and they will send out a bill? Sorry dude but that doesn't even make sense - this is for things I already paid for who would they bill? He can't answer that question. So he tries a different approach - save all your receipts up to the end of the year and claim them on your taxes. Sorry dude wrong again - the whole point of an HSA is so that you DON'T claim these things on your taxes. You pay for them with pretax money and then just put the HSA sum on your taxes. If I save up my $100 receipts at the end of the year they won't be anywhere near the 2% AGI required to deduct medical expenses. When I argue this point with him he hides behind 'we're not allowed to give tax advice please call your tax professional'. So I ask him what should I do - and he says 'well if you don't want to take the advice I gave you there's nothing more I can do'. When I point out that its exactly the opposite that I was told 3 weeks ago he says there's nothing he can do about it. The only useful advice he can give me is to visit my local US Bank branch where 'there MAY be a HSA specialist'. Huh - surely YOU are supposed to be the specialist. If you are such a specialist how come neither of the things you suggest makes any sense - maybe you are just repeating what someone told you while you had me on hold for 5 minutes and you don't REALLY understand what you are saying at all.

So US Bank - here's what you need:

  • If you allow me to open and maintain my account online - then support it online. Do you know how much more efficient it would be to have email instead of lots of annoyed people sitting on hold
  • Better yet - just put the forms I need online for me to download
  • Sort out your staff - when 2 people in 3 weeks totally contradict each other something is wrong
  • Don't pass the buck just to get me off the phone. I know you can see the counter ticking on your screen that says you have gone beyond the 2 minutes and 45 seconds allocated to each customer but the idea is that you help me no just send me off to someone else.

The only good thing is that the manager at my local branch actually had a pack of information including some forms which she is sending out to me today with her business card in case I have further problems. Its a lot harder to pass the buck when the person is sitting in front of you but really if her job is bank manager you would think the HSA specialist should do a better job than her right? As usual this is what you get when you pay minimum wage to the chimps who you let answer the phone.

Published 14 June 2007 01:05 AM by zman

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