My friend and former colleague Niala Boodhoo is in the midst of a cross-country move to Chicago.
But last week she went another direction, to Los Angeles, for a media conference. In the process, she somehow lost her ATM and credit cards.
This was super inconvenient timing, considering she's still figuring out where she'll live in the Windy City, so she doesn't know what her new address will be, but won't be in Miami much longer.
Niala figured that using a national bank meant that she'd be able to replace the ATM card fast. There are Bank of America locations everywhere.
She figured wrong.
At first, Bank of America offered to send her a new ATM card -- but it would take seven to 10 days, days Niala can't wait. Then they suggested she go to the bank where she opened the account in person to get a new card, but not just ANY BofA.
That's great. Except she opened the account more than five years ago -- in Washington, D.C.
Niala doesn't take no for an answer very easily, however. She went public with her gripe, broadcasting the inconvenience on Twitter. (She said it took a little work to target her message at the right BofA Twitter account.)
Her first post: Dear @BofA_Help, can you explain why a natl bank can't issue you a temporary ATM card in a state different than where you opened yr account?
They replied a few hours later: BofA_Help @NialaBoodhoo We are making every effort to integrate our systems so all services are available to our customers despite region.
Remember how I said Niala doesn't take no for answer easily? Here's her reply: @BofA_Help Tks, but that really doesn't help when your ATM card was stolen in CA, and you live in another state.
Then another hour passed and she was told, @NialaBoodhoo We would be happy to expedite the delivery of a new card. Please DM name/zip/phone and we’ll see how we can help.
Considering Twitter is free, it takes seconds to set up an account and not long to figure out how it works, this was a nice change of pace for the sometimes impersonal Internet.
Every Twitter complaint doesn't have a happy ending. (I've complained about airlines, my phone company and Niala once tweeted about our horrid experience at a local restaurant, all of which have Twitter accounts, and we heard not a peep. Or should I say, cheep.)
But at least Niala can leave Miami on a happy note -- and easy access to her cash.
UPDATE: So things didn't go as smoothly as Niala though they would. BofA sent Niala's new ATM card via FedEx. FedEx managed not only to not get Niala the card before she left town, but they couldn't even locate it. She tweeted about that, too. @FedexAl asked if she wanted her to try to find it, but by then BofA had already canceled the card.
BofA said she could go to any branch and get a temporary ATM card -- and she wonders why they didn't just say so in the first place.