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Heath and I do not keep a separate bank account for our business.
I know what you’re thinking. This is a bad idea! You should keep your personal and business expenses separate! And I would totally agree. They should be separate.
Our lack of a business bank account isn’t because we’re irresponsible or lazy or because we like dealing with the added mental hassle of blended business and personal expenses on our bank statements.
It’s because we’ve had both of our business bank accounts unceremoniously CLOSED by Chase.
Apparently @Chase closed our business bank account while we are out of the country and thousands of dollars of our money is missing. This is exactly how I hoped to spend my Monday!
Also if anyone has any recommendations for better banks for business, let me know!
— Alyssa Padgett (@alyssapadge) August 13, 2018
That’s right. One day everything is working. Direct deposit is happening. Checks are clearing. It’s business as usual.
The next day I log in to our account and it’s all gone. I’m not talking you log in and it says “Business Checking Account $0.00”. I’m talking you log in and the entire checking account is gone as if it never existed. I’m staring at a blank screen that says “Chase for Business” at the top and nothing else.
This is where things get fun.
Because in addition to finding out why in the world they closed the accounts, I’ve got thousands of dollars that disappeared overnight and no one knows where the money is!
Now like I said, this has happened to us twice—once for our production company account and once for our blog account. If you’d like to be entertained by someone else’s misfortune, here are those stories.
Bank Account Drama #1: “The check is in the mail.”
Heath and I have both banked with Chase for about ten years now. It was the bank we used in college and it’s the bank we use for most of our credit cards. So when it came to starting a business account, Chase was the natural choice. I can access all our personal and business information in one login and still keep all the funds separate. Win-win!
Back in August, I logged into our Chase account to see if a check had deposited when I noticed the interface looked slightly different. Something was off. Checking, Savings, no Business. The business account disappeared.
At first I thought there was a glitch in the system. It had been a week or so since I logged in and everything was fine then. This was likely a minor glitch.
So I tried logging in on my phone.
And then Heath’s computer.
Then a different browser.
Cue freak out.
This is the bank account where my book royalties are automatically deposited. Where all our clients pay us to. NBD, just all of our business income.
Heath and I are in middle-of-no-where Canada and there isn’t a Chase bank for hundreds of miles. So we get to call the 1-800 number and hope someone can sort this out.
The first woman on the phone forwards us along to someone else because she can’t find the account in her system at all. We’re on hold for a year while the second person tries to track down the issue.
“Ah, it seems your account was closed because your address is invalid.”
“What do you mean our address is invalid?” Heath asked. “It’s the same address we used when we set up the account, the same address where you’ve mailed us things before. Why is it invalid now?”
“Well, it seems like you are using a mail-forwarding office as your address instead of the physical address of your business.”
“That is a physical address. We aren’t in the country and they forward us our mail when we are gone.”
“Since we couldn’t verify the address, we closed the account and mailed a check with your remaining balance to your address on file.”
“So you closed our account because you couldn’t verify the address, and then mailed a check to that same address.”
“Yes sir, we overnighted it last week.”
To this day, this is the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened to me in business.
After months of receiving mail at that address from Chase, BAM. This address is fake, we’re closing your account, and mailing you a check to your fake address. Where’s the logic?!
I mean sure, I just had the check forwarded to us as I do with all our mail because yes, our business address is a real office building and they forward us our mail all the time. But the fact that the bank both thought the address wasn’t real AND mailed us a check to that address seems like a serious level of incompetence.
What really is frustrating is the fact that the bank didn’t call or email us before closing the account to give us a chance to update the address or give fair warning that they were planning on closing the account. They simply closed it and moved on without even a letter in the mail to say the account was closed.
But hey, I get it. Our address didn’t meet their standards and we had the funds back to us in two weeks (overnighting a check is fake news). They at least had a real reason to close the account.
A real reason.
Bank Account Drama #2: “No, I see that form on file. It was filed in February and then I filed it again last week.”
I’ve used the same branch of Chase in my hometown for years. When you go to the same bank, you get to know a few of the bankers. For instance, there’s one lady I always pray that I don’t get because no matter what I need help with, she always looks completely confused as to what I’m talking about. (I may be bitter since she was the person who set up that first business bank account.)
Fortunately, when I went in a few weeks back, I got the banker guy that I like. The one that doesn’t waste time with small talk and gets you in and out of the cubicle as fast as possible.
Now, this was right after our Summit and a couple of people had emailed me saying that the checks I wrote them didn’t clear. I was baffled and a bit panicked.
I logged into the account, saw that there was plenty of money there to cover the checks, and told them I would go to the bank to figure this out. I’ve never heard of a check not clearing when there’s money in the account. But this was a freshly printed batch of checks so perhaps they were printed wrong.
Nice banker guy got into my account and looked around. Everything looked right and he couldn’t figure out why the account wasn’t working correctly, so he hopped on the phone with…well I don’t know who bankers call. A call center of other bankers? Anyway, he called someone to track down answers.
He found the problem: When our account was created, there was one form that wasn’t filed! It was the “I solemnly swear that this business is not involved with online gambling” form.
I vividly remember signing this when we set up the account because I found it very annoying that we had to click no on three different pages just to truly verify that we are not in fact gambling on our blog.
But if that was the issue, no matter. I signed the form and the banker guaranteed the bank account would be fully operational within 24 hours.
Crisis averted! I emailed the people who now probably hate me thinking that I wrote them hot checks and let them know they could deposit the checks tomorrow. But I felt terrible. I felt so unprofessional and sleazy just knowing that I had written these checks and that our vendors were getting alerts that there were no funds. At least everything was now resolved and they would be paid soon!
A few days later, I try to use my business debit card at the post office.
“It keeps saying invalid transaction,” the postwoman said.
“Hm, that’s weird.” I handed over my personal card instead, not thinking anything of it.
Forgetting about the debit card incident, I log in to my bank account the next day and AGAIN. The account is missing and the words “Chase for Business” are at the top of the screen mocking me. Welcome to Chase for Business where you start accounts and we get rid of them for you!
Now, this all went down last week, so I’m eight months pregnant and it’s 85 degrees outside and I am in no mood to deal with Chase again.
Fortunately, I get nice banker guy again who remembers me and hops on the phone with the magical banking wizards again to solve the problem.
I played a LOT of games on my phone during this time. He spoke to at least three different people for 30 minutes while I sat there waiting. I could see him slowly getting as frustrated as I felt.
“I can see the account is closed, I’m just trying to figure out why.” He tilts the phone away from his mouth and whispers to me, “The deposit review team closed the account and they are looking into it.”
Deposit review team? Is there a whole team of people at Chase that sit around looking at your deposits trying to validate them? Did the check from Winnebago to sponsor our Summit send up red flags that we are actually a front for an online gambling website?
“No, I see that form on file. It was filed in February and then I filed it again myself last week… No, I conducted a full review of the business account and everything was in shape… Click on Account Files and you can see both files right there… Well, I’m looking at them both right now!”
Despite my annoyance and the fact that I swear they keep the heat cranked on high in that bank, at least the banker is going to bat for me and trying to find a solution while I fan myself with our folder of bank forms—which include two copies of the “I swear I don’t gamble” form.
“Okay, I think we’ve got it all figured out,” he says. “I’ll be right back.”
He comes back 10 minutes later with the confused-face banker who, appropriately this time, looks confused.
Apparently, some banker on the deposit review team didn’t see both copies of our non-gambling form and closed our account. Again with no call. No email. No letter in the mail. No warning that “hey, I think you’re doing something illegal and I’m going to close your account unless you prove otherwise.” Which, had he clicked on Account Files as nice banker guy said to, he would’ve seen proof and I wouldn’t be wondering where my money is right now.
“I’m afraid your account has been fully closed, so I can’t reopen it for you. But she—” he points to confused-face lady who smiles proudly “—can start a new one for you really quickly.”
I can’t help it.
“No! This is the second account y’all have closed my account without any warning and we will not be banking with you again. Where is my money that was in the account?”
Confused-face lady looks even more confused and they assure me the check was overnighted and should be in my mailbox already.
“This has happened before?” Confused face lady asks.
I briefly explain that yes this has happened twice now and thank nice banker guy for his time with a promise to be in touch if I don’t receive the check. (Which took about a week after being overnighted to finally arrive.)
As I walk away, I pause. The whole reason I logged into my bank account was to deposit a check, a check that’s in my purse that I need to deposit, but do I really want to deposit it here? Can I trust this bank at all?
In the past year, I’ve—temporarily—lost $30,000 because of Chase closing our accounts. This second time just because someone didn’t see one form that I signed twice.
It’s been the most ridiculous, unprofessional situation and I wanted to share these stories so you can avoid the monstrous headache and stress that comes with Chase business accounts. I can’t even comprehend it. At least I have more room in my wallet now that I’ve thrown out those pesky business debit cards!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure that I’ve tracked down every check that hasn’t been cashed yet and Paypal funds to vendors while I try to regain trust with them so we can actually host another Summit next year without an uproar.
Update: We now use Azlo for business banking—which allows you to run your whole account online.
Have any of your own banking horror stories of your own? Drop them in the comments. Misery loves company 💸