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Report: #369470

Complaint Review:, E-Trade Financial, E-Trade Securities LLC - Merrifield, Virginia

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  • Reported By: El Paso Texas
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  •, E-Trade Financial, E-Trade Securities LLC P.O. Box 1542 Merrifield,, Virginia U.S.A., E-Trade Financial, E-Trade Securities LLC E-TRADE SECURITES RIPPED ME OFF!!! BEWARE OF THESE SCAM ARTISTS! Merrifield, Virginia

*Consumer Comment: E-Trade Wins

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Approximately five years ago, I opened a trading account with e-Trade Financial to purchase a specific stock. Over the years, I monitored the stock during which time it went up slightly then dropped significantly below what I paid for it. The stock price remained at this low for five years. I didn't worry as I had purchased this particular stock as a longer term investment. During the month of August, 2008 I noticed that the stock was doing quite well, and was trading at a 52-week high. Because of this fact, I decided to take this opportunity to cash out of the stock. I called e-Trade before the market opened and spoke with a broker. The broker guided me online during which time I saw the number shares that I had, the current value of the stock, and the cost/commission to sell my stock which was $12.99. Great price and the only reason why I decided to open an account with e-Trade in the first place. When I checked back one hour later, much to my surprise I saw a negative $678.00 in red listed as a cash debit. This cash debit was not listed on my account only one hour earlier! In other words, as soon as I decided to cash out my account, e-Trade socked me with a $678.00 bill. Big difference from $12.99.

As I was a little confused as to what exactly the $678.00 cash debit was for, I called e-Trade and spoke with another representative. That representative informed me that I owed them $678.00 in fees as I had not had any activity on my account. Yes, your read correctly, they were charging me for not doing anything. Not because I had purchased of sold any stock with them but because I had not! They further explained that I was required to trade with them at least once per quarter, or I would get billed $40.00. I told the representative that I had no problem paying a commission each and every time I traded with them. I did have a big problem with paying for something that was not earned by them. In essence, e-Trade is forcing their customers to buy or sell stock or pay a penalty to them. Even more underhanded was the fact that they do not let you know about your outstanding balance until you are ready to sell or close your account with them. The representative then went into a canned speech as to how I could avoid the $40.00 fee in the future by doing more business with them. She had absolutely no power to make any decision with respect to refunding the bogus fees, so I asked her to let me speak with her supervisor. She politely told me that her supervisor would not be able to do anything about this either.

After a ten minute wait on the line, a gentleman by the name of David came on the line and I discussed the problem with him. Although seemingly sympathetic to my plea, he then proceeded to go into the exact same canned speech as the previous representative. I stopped him and asked what he was going to do about the bogus charges. He replied, I feel bad for you sir, but there is nobody in the building that I know of who has the authority to refund your money. I then asked if I was dealing with an answering service, or some offshore call center in India. He replied that he was located thirty minutes from Wall Street. I then asked him, Do you expect me to believe that in a company as large as e-Trade, there is not a single person in the building who can make a decision? He then agreed to transfer me to his manager. Twelve minutes later, a gentleman came on the line who identified himself as one Anthony Stabile. Once again I pleaded my case to him. This time I was told that I had not fulfilled my duties as an investor and an e-trade customer. Apparently, as a customer, it is my responsibility to them to trade at least once per quarter whether I want to or not. He further stated that e-Trade was unwilling to refund even one penny of the fees that they had charged me, -- under any circumstances. I then asked Mr. Stabile why I never received a single bill for any of the $40.00 fees that they were sticking me with. His reply was, We don't have to send you a bill. We send you a statement. You should have checked your statement I then asked, how am I supposed to pay your fees if I never receive a billing statement??? He replied, the SEC does not require us to send you a bill.

By this time I was extremely upset. I then told him that what e-Trade was doing was unethical and illegal. They are forcing their customers to buy or sell stock, whether they want to or not, or get socked with excessive penalties. His response was, It's not illegal. I can show you on the Website where we tell you about the fee so that makes it legal When I told him that I would be reporting e-Trade to the SEC, he initially laughed and said, there's nothing they or you can do about it. What we did was completely legal. When I pushed him further, he finally agreed to speak with his superior. After ten more minutes on hold, he finally came back on the line and offered me a refund of $40.00 off of the $678.00. I refused. I then went round and round with him for another twenty minutes until he put me back on hold to once again speak with a superior. This time he offered me $80.00. Once again, I refused. During my time on hold, I thought about my situation and came to the conclusion that I was partially at fault for dealing with a company like e-Trade to begin with. Because of this fact, I had told myself that I would meet them half-way, and pay $339.00 of their bogus fees. I proposed this settlement offer to Mr. Stabile at which time he told me that $80.00 was the maximum that the people in the margins department were willing to pay. He then told me that I was lucky to get that because they never give anyone a refund. Once again I warned him that I unless this wrong was corrected by e-Trade, I would report their unethical conduct to the SEC. This time Mr. Stabile told me that could wave the whole $678.00 fee, -- only if I was willing to make a sizeable deposit with them into my account. To clarify, e-Trade initially could not, and would not, refund their bogus fees under any circumstances. However, if I was willing to deposit more money with them, $10,000.00 or more to be exact, I would get my money back.

My response to Mr. Stabile was, You have got to be kidding me. You actually think that I would trust you with more of my money after you have just taken advantage of me? You can't be serious. Stabile replied, That's my offer. There is a way out of this, but you have to make a commitment to do more significant business with us first. You would think that by this point it in time it couldn't get worse. Then he turned the tables on me. Anthony Stabile then kind enough to advise me that the people in the margins department had informed him that they had been eyeing my account for some time due to a lack of trading activity. He further stated that, the margins department was getting ready to sell my stock, without my knowledge or consent, in order to satisfy their $678.00 fee. When I asked him when they intended to do that, Mr. Stabile stated that it was completely up to them. Nobody tells them what to do, and they do not have to tell anyone what they are going to do, or when they are going to do it I was then told that if I did not send e-Trade $598.00 ($678.00 - $80.00 refund) the margins department would sell my stock. Tell me this isn't extortion. I then asked Mr. Stabile, Just as I asked you from the very beginning, how am I supposed to send you payment for your fee if I don't have a billing statement or an invoice for your fees? Where am I supposed to send it to? What department am I supposed to send it to? His reply was, Just send it to e-Trade. The address in on your statement. Make sure to put you account number on the check.

Flash...I hadn't even finished writing this report when my trade was executed at the price I had set. Contrary to everything that I had been told previously, e-Trade took the full $678.00 from my account. They did so without contacting me, or making any effort whatsoever to notify me of their intent. What a surprise. These guys are greedy crooks, plain and simple. They personify exactly what is wrong with Wall Street and a perfect example of why people are so turned off on the stock market. Unlike Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, these crooks steal from everybody and line their own pockets out of sheer greed. White collar, blue collar, little old ladies, everyone is fair game. They don't care about you, your account, your business, or in keeping you as a customer (unless you want to send them another $10,000 or more.) They know that you will simply be replaced by another unsuspecting victim lured in by their slick commercials.

Needless to say, although their actions might not be "illegal" under the letter of the law, the conduct exhibited my e-Trade is clearly unethical. They are deceptive in their business practices. Their fee structure, and billing practices are predatory in nature, and are designed specifically to take advantage of the small, less sophisticated investor. They know exactly what their target market is, and are experts in squeezing every possible penny they can out of you, -- all the while hiding behind their contract and the fine print. They have designed their marketing campaign to lure customers in with promises of low, flat rate commissions of $12.99 knowing full well that they will ultimately collect much more in penalties, hidden fees, and bogus charges once they get you as a customer. Something has got to be done about them. The public needs to be made aware of how these crooks operate. I will be filing a formal complaint with the SEC. If I can save just one person from being victimized like I was, it was worth it...

El Paso, Texas

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/03/2008 04:01 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 Consumer Comment

E-Trade Wins

AUTHOR: Dan - (U.S.A.)

POSTED: Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I had a similar situation with E-Trade. My stock dropped significantly. I wanted to hold it until it recovered. But their quarterly fees drained my account to ZERO. They take your profits (if any) before you can reap any benefits. It's a way for them to make you churn your own account so that they can make a profit one way or another, come hell or high water.

I closed my account with them after a $4,000 loss. Self trading is very risky. They don't give you the information you need to make a well informed decision regardless of what they say.

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