F*CK YOU, #WellsFargo!

January 18, 2018

 

I’ve been on a social media hiatus (hopefully someone noticed) since Harvey the Hurricane destroyed the Gulf Coast and my hometown – Houston TX. It knocked me down and every time I got up, something else knocked me down …

Well folks, I’m back and I’m one PISSED OFF redhead!

Last night, as I was wrapping up a client project, my email dinged. It was an alert from #WellsFargo, my account had fallen below a set minimum balance.

Not to worry … I’d set up the alerts to keep me in the black. After all, I’m single and self-employed; my company receivables vary monthly; and I don’t have a set salary or income. Even though I check my accounts regularly, I’ve always thought it important to take a belt & suspenders approach to finances. (That’s why I use Mint to send alerts about upcoming payments and multiple resources to monitor my credit reports).

Maybe I forgot to ‘pay’ myself. If only.
Then the second email arrived: 

Your available balance has reached or dropped below zero

A BIG RED NEGATIVE BALANCE$0.00 available funds. My checking and savings wiped out!

My account showed ‘pending payments’ to creditors – IN DUPLICATE – of nearly $13,000.00!!! I hadn’t started with anything near $13K in my combined accounts. It was like a blinking, neon sign.

Pamela, youre screwed!

Paralegal mode engaged. SYSTEM FAILURE. Breathe Pamela … check your settings.

  • Had I mistakenly set up double payments? NO.
  • Did an alternate personality set up automatic draws on the creditor side? NO.

What the ever-loving F**K??

I couldn’t breathe. My vision was blurry. I found the number for customer service … fingers tingling. I dialed … ring, ring … the automated system welcomed me and asked how it could direct my call. I couldn’t form words, sentences. I screamed into the phone.

“REPRESENTATIVE!”

“I understand you’d like to speak to a representative. Please say or enter your account number so I can properly direct your call.”

Account number? I couldn’t remember my own name!

“000000000”

“That is an invalid entry, blah, blah, blah.”

BREATHE. Find account number.
BREATHE. Enter account number.
C A N ’ T   B R E A T H E.

Everything’s a blur … something about transferring me to a banker … hold music … ‘we’re experiencing an unusually high call volume’ … more music.

I really can’t breathe. Part of my brain is saying ‘DON’T PANIC!’ Yeah, right … I’m having a panic attack.

A voice! A human voice!

“Is this Ms. Starr?”

The working part of my brain is amazed. My information made it to the rep’s screen. I try to form words – he needs to hear words.

“What the hell???”

“Are you referring to the duplicate bill pay payments? This is a known IT issue. Everything is okay.”

“OKAY??!!! My m-m-m-m-m-money is g-gone! A-a-a n-n-negative b-b-balance of m-m-more m-m-money than I had. There is N-N-N-NOTHING okay about this!!”

“Ms. Starr, are you alright? Is there someone there with you? Please calm down, I need you to calm down and breathe.”

“I C-C-CAN’T B-BREATHE! <insert tears and far too rapid breaths> M-m-money. G-gone.”

“Ms. Starr – your money’s there. It’s just a glitch. Please check your account in an hour. I need you to call 911 now.” Click.

Lightheaded, hyperventilating, crying, trying to process his words.

A GLITCH!!???!!
A F*CKING GLITCH???!!??

I call a friend to talk me down. I take a Valium. I post to Facebook for the first time in almost 4 months.

A known IT issue??!!?? BEFORE panic sets in:

  • send a f*cking mass notice to your customers;
  • post a notice PROMINENTLY on EVERY PAGE of your website;
  • post an advisory on every social media platform.

My money is back where it belongs. How do I know? Because I went online and checked. Did the brain trust at #WellsFargo send a notice and apology? No.

#WellsFargo’s IT SNAFU nearly put me in the ER.

My money will soon be residing elsewhere. I’m losing time and business opening new accounts, resetting my bill pay and autopay accounts, changing everything linked to WF, calling creditors to alert them to possible late payments, likely incurring late charges and interest …

#WellsFargo must be held accountable to everyone affected by their ‘glitch’. We’ve been damaged and deserve compensation.

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#Harvey sucks – HB1774 & Insurance Claims

August 29, 2017

I’m keeping this one short – the title says it all. 

I’ve spoken with lawyers and the insurance companies … the new law only applies to homeowners’ and auto policies. Claim letters need not be submitted for federal flood insurance claims.
click below to download the form: 

Formal Notice of Claim Form

* print, complete, and mail to your insurer
* print, complete, scan and email to your insurer

#HoustonProud
donations can be made to: The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston Harvey Relief Fund

(original form: Lone Star Legal Aid @LStarLegal)

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Friday, June 5, 2015

June 5, 2015

… it’s almost Shabbas. It is the second Shabbas since the post-Shavuous #HoustonFlood – a deluge of almost biblical proportions that was not related to a hurricane.

The house has been, for all intents and purposes, gutted. Mom is officially one of the displaced and  living in a hotel. We spend our days in clean up and salvage mode. I’m writing this while standing at what used to be the bar in what used to be my Mom’s kitchen. This space has become my satellite office.2015-06-04 StarrParalegalsSatelliteOffice

Mom’s a trooper. She covered all the emergency, immediate needs before I arrived in Houston. On Flood Day 2015, she found a damage restoration contractor that was at her house as soon as the streets cleared. We were both ecstatic. Then she tells me that they’re Israelis – BONUS POINTS! Mom had her own mini-#IDF coming to her rescue.

The team from Speed Dry USA has been amazing! They’ve treated Mom like mishpocha (family). Their concern was as much for her well-being as it was for damage control. Gigli arrived with his team to rip out carpet, pull up floors, and tear out drywall. They emptied closets and cabinets and moved Mema & Grampa’s furniture out of damp’s way.

In the meantime, I made calls and registered Mom with every possible agency. I reached out to dear friends to check in on Mom – remember I was in Atlanta when the waters rose. Suzi Merritt, Kathi Kowalski Sandler, and Ricky Guinea stopped in daily to make sure she was okay. Kathi, invited me to the ‘Houston Flood 2015 Resource/Support Group’ on Facebook.

Resource and support – it was brilliant. Amidst the chaos, a forward-thinking neighbor started the group “to help my dear friends and strangers who have been affected and displaced by the Houston Flood 2015.” Tandy Camberg Harris writes, “The primary purpose of it is to serve as a support and resource group to those of you, who have lost everything and feel completely overwhelmed.”

Friends and neighbors invited friends and neighbors –

People posted stupid-proof information about receiving every possible form of assistance. Then there were the posts about very specific needs – neighbors responded. Those with, offered up what they had. Others coordinated volunteers to bring water, food, trash bags & cleaning supplies. Businesses offered free services. I posted. Total strangers and friends from long ago responded – Mom was going to be covered until I was feet on the ground in Houston.

Then I got here. It was overwhelming. My paralegal brain kicked in and knew what to do, but I couldn’t just bulldoze over Mom. It’s been, to say the least, a very difficult week. I’d share my feelings, but Arlene Nisson Lassin has captured the essence so well – Back to the Anger Phase of Flood Grief. Like my I-hope-to-meet-one-day-friend Arlene, the emotions come in waves  . . . and at the oddest times. It usually hits when I read Facebook posts about how our community has mobilized to provide, well, everything.

My dearest friends and my newest friends from the FB group have provided everything from water and food to supplies and physical labor. Given, freely, from the heart.

It’s going to take a long time to get back to normal, but we’re going to get there – not just Mom, but the entire community. One day at a time, one Shabbas at a time.

Tonight, we will bring in Shabbas with Mom’s mini-#IDF team. We’re looking forward to a home cooked meal and the company of new friends. Tomorrow we’ll daven at Beth Yeshurun with more members of our community. It’s going to be nice to see and meet our friends.

Tonight, when you light your Shabbas candles, I ask that you include a prayer for the Houston community – for a refuah shleimah – a swift and full recovery.

May you each enjoy a peaceful and restful Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!!

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StarrParalegals is Relocating – Temporarily

May 28, 2015

Many of you know I’m originally from Texas – born and reared in Houston. My extended family and friends are there and my mother lives in the house my grandparents bought 50 years ago. Houston is, and always will be, home.

In the wee hours of the morning on May 26th, my mother’s house started to flood. By 7 am, the water was ankle deep throughout the house and higher in the garage.

B”H – my mother is safe and well. The house is a disaster. Crews have already come through to remove all the flooring and carpet and they’ve taken off the lower 2 feet of drywall in every room.

For now, she is staying with a friend. It will be weeks, if not months, before the house is livable. As of today, the area has not been declared a federal disaster area. Until FEMA or other aid becomes available, this will be a financial burden for her.

I’m headed back home on Monday, June 1st and will stay as long as I’m needed to ease the emotional burden.

As always, I will travel with my ‘office’ and I will make myself available to complete projects. Because I will be working from a satellite location, I ask that you alert me to projects by calling or texting. The number can be found at www.StarrParalegals.com

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#HoustonFlood

May 28, 2015

I’ve lived though my share of hurricanes in Houston. I’ve seen high water and the damage it brings. Through it all, my family has been lucky – the worst we’ve ever experienced is a stalled car or waiting it out on high ground.

Until now –

Mom started emailing me Tuesday, May 26 around 3 am CDT. No, I don’t know why she didn’t call me. I guess she didn’t want to worry me.

What? Me worry?

Well, that’s exactly what happened when I opened my email – my coffee grew cold as I tried to interpret the picture from Mom’s front porch.

What you shouMomsFrontPorchld see is a curved driveway, Mom’s front yard, and a four lane boulevard separated by a median.

What you see are the holly bushes that border the front porch. The water at the holly is about a foot deep – the water in the house, ankle deep.

I’ve never seen this much water on Mom’s street. In the 50 years my family has lived in that house (it was my grandparent’s house), the water never made it inside.

Heck, it never made it to the porch.

Sure, the backyard would flood – Mom’s seasonal olympic pool – still the water was contained. You could stand under the awning and the porch would be ‘above the water line’.

MomsBackPorch

Tuesday morning, it became Lake Novak.

It breaks my heart to see the house like this.

Yes, I’m being selfish.

It’s my home.
My mother.
My family.
My friends.
The stores where we shop, the shul where we worship, ‘our’ JCC, the schools where mom teaches . . .

I know, it could have been so much worse. I grieve for those who lost loved ones or whose homes were completely destroyed.

Does Mom need help? I’m sure she will.

For now we’ll accept emotional support. When I get to Houston next week, we’ll probably need all hands on deck to sort through the stuff.

Others need your help too.

18f65389-e606-48d6-b8f2-df6f8e06b16cThe Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, in partnership with Jewish Family Service, is mobilizing a community response to provide aid and support for people devastated by the May 26 flood. We are here to help individuals, families and our Jewish institutions, which sustained substantial damage.

Funds are needed for basic services and to help people repair their homes. Crisis counseling is also essential.  There are three ways you can help:

  1. Able to give? Donate at www.houstonjewish.org/houstonflood
  2. Able to provide physical labor (no training necessary)? Email jfsvolunteer@gmail.com
  3. Able to give gift cards for $50, $100, $200 or $500 good at groceries, pharmacies, big box stores like Target, Walmart, Lowes or Home Depot? Please drop them off at Jewish Family Service at 4131 S. Braeswood Blvd., Houston, TX 77025. M-Th, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., F, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

If you are in need of help, email jfsstormhelp@gmail.com.

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