About a month ago, my wife opened a Bluebird account and added an additional card for me. We thought this would be a good alternative to our previous accounts as the Bluebird card offered low / no fees for our typical transactions.
After using the card for a few weeks adding funds from another (NON Bluebird) account we had to fund the card, all seemed ok and I changed my direct deposit from my employer to go to the Bluebird account.
The problems started with the first payroll deposit. The morning of my scheduled payday, my wife checked our balance and discovered that the deposit was not there. I inquired with my company's bookkeeper who process the payroll and she showed me that she had indeed processed the deposit and additionally she had done a "test run" on the account several days before to verify the account. (From what I understand, the "test run" is a process required to verify that a new account is valid to receive direct deposit transactions). She showed me that the "test run" was successful. Clearly, at this point I knew the issue was on the receiving (Bluebird) end of the transaction.
My wife called the customer service number to inquire about the missing deposit and was informed that it may take until 2PM that day before the transaction would be posted. As it turns out, by 10AM it posted and all was well other than the fact that with any other account we always had the funds before 6 AM, as do all of my coworkers who have their pay direct deposit.
Today is payday again, and knowing that the last direct deposit didn't post until 10AM, we waited until after 11AM to check the Bluebird account. To our disappointment, no deposit. My wife called and was again told to wait until 2 PM to call back. She asked the customer service rep if they could tell her if the transaction was pending or otherwise what the status was. The rep insisted that they could not see any information on a direct deposit until it was posted and available.
Thinking this was odd, I called them (still before 2pm) and asked for some explanation, since my employer had confirmed they had transferred the money, yet it wasn't in my account. My theory is that the money (even if only electronically) had to be somewhere. Since my employer sent it, and it wasn't in my account, that leaves American Express Centurion Bank AKA Bluebird. They continued to insist that they had absolutely no way to check on the deposit until it posts to my account. I pointed out that there is NO mention of this in the information provided at the time we opened the account, nor on their website. I asked if the 2PM standard was a regulatory standard or simply a policy of Bluebird. The response: ..."that's just how the system works".
At 2:30 PM, still no deposit. Again I called back and this time I informed the customer service rep, that I would be recording the call for my records. During this call, after an substantial persistence on my part, the rep put me on hold to cal "tech support". She then asked me for some information about who the employer is that sent the deposit and if it was in my name. When I gave them the information they said that the problem was my wife was the actual account holder so the "system" would automatically reject a deposit in my name. I told the rep that was absolute BS since both the "test run" and the previous pay were successful. The rep had no idea what to say and then gave me a ticket # to reference. The rep said I should wait a little longer and call back if the deposit still wasn't there.
Called back around 5 PM because the deposit still didn't show. This rep was particularly rude, spoke over me trying to speak, and had a generally unpleasant tone. She acted as if I had done something wrong and was out of place to be complaining about this issue. She called "tech support" while keeping me on hold and then told me they need the "trace number" for the transaction so they could trace it. I almost hit the ceiling. All day long various reps told us they can't check a transaction until its posted and now they can with this trace number that I have to get from my employer. Funny how during business hours, there was no way to do it, but at 5PM which is the typical end of day for most office workers (such as bookkeepers who could get that info for me) are gone for the day. I insisted to be connected to a supervisor and like the reps, I informed her that I would be recording the call for my records. She refused to let me record and said if I continue to record she would hang up. She said there was "no need" for me to record it because they already record it. Ha, yeah, like the people screwing me around are going to hand over recording that prove that they are screwing me. I stopped recording, with the hope that the supervisor would be able to help. Completely useless. She just kept repeating that only the trace number could be used to research the transaction. She insisted that Bluebird has no other way to look it up, no even by my Employer's information, etc...
I am pretty certain they intentionally withheld being able to use the trace number until after typical business hours because they knew it would be unlikely that anybody could get that information over the weekend. I guess they are just hoping the problem fixes itself before Monday or that maybe I will forget about the entire paycheck I am currently missing.
Bluebird, like most pre-paid cards are generally targeted at lower to moderate income people like myself. It is attractive because of the few and low fees. Given that's the case, I'd think the folks at Bluebird are probably pretty well aware that most of their customers are like me, living check to check for the most part. Their (mis)handling of the deposits and their unprofessional attitude towards the issue are reprehensible.
When (if) my pay ever shows up in the Bluebird account, we will quickly remove it and all other funds and close the account. The little bit we saved in fees will likely pale in comparison to the costs and other hardships of not having my much needed pay on time.
I have never received such terrible service from any other bank or pre-paid card. The initial problem is bad enough, but the (complete lack of) customer service in any meaningful way is completely unacceptable.