Saturday, May 2, 2015

CIBC and Reference Numbers Logic

Had an interesting run-in with CIBC today.    

The phone rings at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, just as I’m getting the kids down for an afternoon nap.  I’m sitting next to the kids, and thanks to the wonders of iOS 8, even though the phone has been silenced, the laptop I’m using suddenly rings.  The kids wake up and I swear like a sailor.

I call back the number after re-settling the kids.  It’s CIBC.  Their phone system says it doesn’t know my phone number and so I have to punch it in.  After a wait of about 3 minutes, a women answers the phone.  After she confirms my identity, I am informed that she has no idea why I’ve called or why they called to begin with.


I ask her to put a note on file that I don’t like being called for no reason.  After about another 30 seconds she magically finds the reason they called.  They’re looking for a credit card payment.  

Luckily, my wife had sent the payment they were looking for from TD Bank on the previous Wednesday, so I told CIBC this is just a case of another call from CIBC looking for money that is likely already in their system.  They asked for the reference number, so we gave it to her.  

If you’re not familiar with how Canadian banks work, the worse case is a Canadian tier one bank will take a full working day to process an electronic payment request, so that means TD may have processed it after close of business on Thursday and CIBC would have received it on Friday, so CIBC would process it Friday night.  Unfortunately, this is a Saturday, so it is very highly probable that because CIBC's computers don’t appear to work on weekends, it’s not going to show up on their ledger even if it was now at CIBC until Monday morning.  

I was quite confident that telling CIBC the circumstances would be the end of this.  Unless they’ve some distrust that I don’t know about with other Canadian financial institutions, you’d think that dates and reference numbers of payments would be sufficient proof of payment. After all, why give them out if they're not the equivalent of a receipt?  Next, CIBC then asked for the last 4 digits of my wife’s TD bank account.  

Hell no.  

This is the Bell Canada of banking, and they obviously thought I'd not been poked with the CIBC stick enough.  The lady went on to put the burden on payment on the customer.  Apparently, we customers are now responsible for finding out why CIBC couldn’t see the money.  

I pushed back (I’m not a bank).  
CIBC pushed again.
I asked three times to be escalated.
After not being escalated my patience ran out.  It’s hard to resolve a situation when one party isn’t listening.

Then I finally got escalated.

The new lady that took over also tried to put the burden back on me to find out why my wife’s bank had not sent money from TD.  As things got more heated, she was stating that CIBC as a financial institution cannot do traces on payments initiated by another bank.   The conversation then went like this:

CIBC:  And I’d like to just remind you sir that this conversation is being recorded.
ME:  Good, because I’d love to know why the last lady just asked about the bank account digits at TD?
CIBC?  Err. What? We just told you we can’t trace payments at another institution.
ME: So why the hell are you asking for information that you’re now claiming is of no use to you?  Something is fishy here!

It ended with me irately telling them to check their reports on Monday as there’s sweet nothing that I can do this late on a Saturday.

I’ve stated numerous times that the trust level between CIBC and me is very, very low.  The legitimacy of anything that I hear from them is constantly eroded by foul-ups, conflicting information and a continued sense that they’re just screwing me over.  Today was just another episode in a long and painful journey.

Look at the straight facts of what can happen:
  • CIBC will ask you for reference numbers, stating they are required to prove something is paid for.
  • CIBC now says that it can’t trace payments at other banks.

That right there is conflict in logic, so one of those is clearly a lie.  Banks should not lie.

CIBC overstepped the mark in asking for the TD account info (I’m looking into the privacy rules on this, as I think it’s not supposed to happen under the Canadian charter that the banks have to follow), but CIBC definitely shot themselves in the foot over reference numbers.  

Someone is lying to me, and I’d love to know which is the correct answer.