Don't Die if you are a USAA member
Don’t die if you have any accounts (investment, banking, credit card, insurance) with USAA because if you do your beneficiaries may be put through a lot of time wasting and aggravation when dealing with a myriad of inept customer service agents to be able to manage your assets, based on my recent experiences.In my case my family actually spent money and effort to prepare for the death of my father by creating a family trust and maintaining all the assets in the name of the trust.
Most financially savvy people would think that the family trust would make the transition from having two trustees (my mother and father) to having one trustee greatly simplified, but my experience with USAA has not shown this to be a fact with them. I have 2 graduate degrees from UCLA, an MS in computer science and MBA. Most people would think that establishes my credibility to handle financial management matters with at least a modicum of sophistication and expertise. Not so at USAA.
They talk to me like they know everything and I know little. They use policy and law to justify illogical and irrational behaviors, demands for documents and decisions. When I ask to see the source documents for the laws or policies which they have referenced, I never get them. I found myself reminding them that the employees at Wells Fargo bank followed the company’s rules and policies, and look at the havoc that resulted from those efforts (5,300 people fired, hundreds of millions in fines settlements and outstanding civil litigation that could easily reach into the billions of dollars).
Banks should be very careful justifying actions by referring to policy in light of Wells Fargo’s debacle. Watch out for USAA customers services representatives responding to your direct and specific questions with obfuscation and distraction (i.e. instead of answering your question they answer one of their own choosing – THINK KELLYANNE CONWAY). My experience with USAA is that they directly equate effort with results.
When they can’t get anything done, they insist on telling me that they made a diligent effort but something beyond their control has prevented them from achieving the desired result. No one has suggested that my expectations are unreasonable, as they are in fact not unreasonable. If you decide to use USAA for the variety of products and services they offer, expect to hear the phrase “I/we am/are sorry” because they love to apologize for their mistakes and failures. I still don’t understand the point of apologizing because it fixes nothing.
Further, an apology from someone other than the actual source of the problem, and not a surrogate, is not remedial. “I am sorry’” is just USAA’s way of distracting their customer from ruminating on their still unresolved issue. When I hear “I’m sorry” I respond that they need to save their apologies for someone who actually finds it helpful or productive to hear an apology. Also, don’t mistake “nice” for “good” or “effort” for “results.” USAA has serious problems with these two issues.
When they can’t get something done, they tell you how hard they are trying and when they make mistakes they apologize and tell you how valuable of a customer you are. When it comes to business I always choose “good” over “nice” and never confuse “effort” with “results.” I am a member of USAA’s wealth management group, which is supposed to get me to better trained and more senior representatives. On most of the issues having to do with my diseased father’s accounts I have been dealing with USAA’s “office of the president” team which is supposed to be their most capable customer service representatives that have the power and access associated with the “office of the president.” The “Office of the president” representatives tell me that my problems cannot be escalated to a higher level, they say they are at the highest level. However, they clearly know little about social media and the power of the internet or the media – I CAN ALWAYS EXCALATE TO THE INTERNET AND THE PRESS WITH OR WITHOUT USAA’s ASSISTANCE OR APPROVAL.
Since USAA has several products and services you would think that they would have a central point of contact to deal with the necessary account changes associated with a death, but you would be wrong. I received calls from 1) investments, 2) Banking, 3)insurance & 4)life insurance/Medicare so far and they all want basically the same things: a death certificate and the section of the trust that deals with successor trustee. I have had to repeat the very same information 4 times. Further, the trust information should have already been in their possession had they provided the “Excellent member service” or “knew what it means to serve” and required or requested information needed for the survivors to continue on with their lives.
In our case, since the credit card was in my father’s name but used primarily by my mother, USAA immediately terminated the credit card when I notified them that to stop the Medicare supplemental insurance payment. No mention was made to me of the other consequences of my notification like termination of the credit card so my mother was unable to pay for her groceries, freezing of access to bank accounts and investment accounts, and required changes to the dwelling umbrella insurance policies. Everything was frozen while we waited to receive the death certificate – it takes a couple for weeks for it to arrive from the State of California. I guess in the interim USAA thinks my mother does not need to pay her bills or buy groceries.
Since USAA cancelled the credit card that my parents used for automatic payment of some of their regular household bills (utilities, phone, cable TV) we get to discover which companies need to be contacted and billing information updated over the next few weeks instead of helping us make a smooth transition like you would expect from the company that “knows what it means to serve.” Even though all of my father’s assets were held in trust accounts with my father and mother as joint trustees with each becoming the successor trustee when one of them dies, USAA still froze the assets. My father used the BILLPAY option available to USAA members to pay all his regular recurring bills, drawing the money from the trusts checking account. So he had all their vendors addresses and account numbers in the BILLPAY system. When he died USAA prevented me from accessing or using any of that information.
We would have made backup had we knew that even though everything was paid by the trust we lose access to the vendors and the recurring payments. Further, the credit card which was in my father’s name (because you cannot setup a credit card in the name of the trust) was closed when USAA was notified of my father’s death so all the automatic payment drawn from the credit card were terminated and we have no record of the vendors who were linked to his credit card. This makes no sense because the credit card was always paid with Trust funds, so there was no need to terminate the account immediately.
Had USAA provided “excellent member service” they would have assisted us in transitioning to a new credit card for my mother where we would have had the opportunity to reassign the vendor payments to the new credit card.When we finally got an account set up form my mother to login and manage the trust’s assets it was not setup with the same security options that my father’s account had as you would expect a company that “knows what it means to serve” would do.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.