June 20, 2012
I was wrong. I thought that using the NetSpend card for normal everyday purchases would be safe (see “NetSpend challenges the throne”). However, I tried to log into my account Tuesday evening and found “We’re sorry, there is a problem with your account”:
Uh oh. I knew from readers that this meant my account had been closed. I thought back to things I’ve done with the card in the past week. It was all miscellaneous small purchases. I bought pet food. I paid for movie tickets. I bought a few groceries. What could they have objected to? I didn’t take money out via an ATM. I didn’t pay any bills. I didn’t make any large purchases. I didn’t buy money orders or gift cards.
Was it my blog post? In that post, I recommended that people use the card as it is intended to be used. Did they read the post and see something they didn’t like?
I called the number on the screen and had an entertaining conversation. It went like this:
NetSpend: Mr Miler your account is already closed. You are no longer eligible for NetSpend services.
NetSpend: Due to a bank request. The only reason we close an account is due to a bank request.
Me: Why did a bank request that my account be closed?
NetSpend: We don’t have that information. We are not the ones that closed the account. We have a department that is constantly monitoring accounts. We work hand in hand with with banks in monitoring accounts.
Me: What bank are you talking about? I didn’t do anything with my NetSpend card that had anything to do with any of my banks.
NetSpend: It was a previous bank, not NetSpend. They requested that the account be closed due to suspicious activity. We’re not even supposed to tell you that, but you asked.
Me: What activity was suspicious?
NetSpend: We do not have that information.
During this conversation, I racked my brain trying to think of what bank could have even known I had a NetSpend card. Finally, the fog lifted in my brain. I remembered that NetSpend cards are issued by a bank called Metabank…
Me: Is the bank you’re talking about, Metabank?
NetSpend: [long pause] Yes
I tried mightily to get more information, but to no avail. I spoke to a supervisor who gave me the same non-answers. I asked who else I could speak with that could give me more information. “No one.” Could I speak with the risk management team? “No. You can call back during business hours and ask for a supervisor and ask the supervisor to speak with the risk management team.” Great. Can I speak with the marketing department? “We don’t have one.” Can I speak with the sales department? “We don’t have one… I mean we do have a marketing and sales department, but we don’t have a number for customers to call.” And on and on it went.
While I couldn’t get any information about why I was shut down, I did get some information about what happens next. I was told that I would be sent a check in 20 business days. When I asked about a fee, the supervisor confirmed that there would be a $5.95 fee. I asked that it be waived, but he said that all he could do is make a note in my account to ask. I also asked about the $20 referrals. He said that once they’re paid they would go into my account and then I can request a check again. I’ll believe that when I see it.
Hopefully others will have better luck than I had. If not, maybe this will work out as a nice, one time only, cash-out of Vanilla Reload cards. We could do worse.
I’ll run out soon to get a Mio card if I can find one. Unfortunately, you can’t order them online without first buying one in-store. Also, of course, I’ll watch eagerly for the new OneVanilla card, coming soon.