So, this morning finds me writing this blog post on my Windows 7 workstation. Most people know my aversion to Windows workstations – and should find this an odd combination. After all, I have my iMac — why would I move over to a workstation that I use primarily for playing games? Well, at this moment, the iMac has not been behaving properly – shutting down after a few minutes of work. It looks like it may be a graphics card, or perhaps the dreaded Logic Board. Either way, I had decided to replace the iMac with a more powerful machine. No, its not this Windows machine or even another machine running Windows. I will be installing a Mac Pro workstation on my desktop this morning. But what I wanted to tell you isn’t about the Mac pro – but rather the process in which it was purchased.
Mac Pro workstations are not cheap machines. The configurations can run somewhere between $8000 US to upwards of $12,000 US. The configuration I settled on is somewhere mid-range of that. With the sale of my late father’s house, I happened to have enough funds to cover this, and made the decision to purchase. Shortly after I made the purchase, I received a notification from Apple that my charge had been denied by my bank, Wells Fargo. I have been with Wells Fargo for close to fifteen years now, so this seemed puzzling to me. It was late in the evening, so I did some online research of my account, and discovered that I had a daily limit of spending for my account type. I could only purchase approximately 1/5th of my Apple purchase per day. So, I spent some time finding out where I could make a bump in my daily limit. I discovered a blurb of text, buried under approximately six layers of links, that directed me to call the Wells Fargo customer assistance line. So, I followed those directions…
My conversation with the service agent was pleasant enough. When I queried on how to up the limit to purchase the computer, I was placed on hold – presumably the individual was asking a supervisor about the manner in which this could be done. For all I know, he was laughing his ass off at my idiot question – I have a free checking account with Wells Fargo. When he returns to the phone, he informs me that I cannot have my daily limit changed, unless I would like to purchase the Premium Plan for $15 per month. Then, I could “negotiate” a change to my daily limit. What the fsck? I can “negotiate” upping my daily limit on spending *MY* money AFTER I pay extra for the PRIVILEGE of being able to ASK? I was a little more composed when I asked him this nearly identical question. That was correct, I was told. I politely thanked the young man, and hung up the phone.
Currently, I have enough in my account to pay for MULTIPLE Mac Pros of the configuration I was requesting. And yet, here I was being denied the capability of using my funds in the manner in which I choose. By the bank that was being charged with protecting my funds from theft. And apprently protecting my funds from me as well. Or, as I stated to Pam:
…my money is in jail. Apparently, its crime is existing in large quantities, and I can’t even get visiting hours.
I contacted Apple to determine if there was a payment plan – and was told that there was not. The only payment options were those listed on the site. Its even there in plain text for me to read (if I had done so). No six-level deep clicking of links. But the Apple agent was helpful. She noted that this happens all the time. She suggested that I purchase Apple gift cards at $2000 apiece and use those to pay the large majority of the configuration, and then charge the balance when I was below my daily spending limit. This worked as she stated, but I was still a bit pissed at having to handle this process. It wasn’t Apple’s fault – rather its Wells Fargo’s desire to treat my money like it was theirs and not mine.
The process is completed, and here sitting next to my desk are the boxes that contain all the aspects of the Mac Pro configuration that I purchased. I will utilize the early part of the morning setting it up, and connecting it to the network. However, I am left thinking about the state of banking here in the United States. Many of us use banks for our paychecks. Many of us have our savings and retirement accounts in banking systems – Wells Fargo being among those. When I drop my money into these banks, am I still the owner of my money?? My experience obviously points to “No”. And in a society where the pushback is to use Debit and Credit Cards rather than cash — I have to start speculating on the level of “why”?
Spending on a credit card or debit card is rather easy to do — a simply swipe of the card. But do we keep track of these transactions? Or do we let the bank do that for us?? I remember when I had to write a physical check, there was a little balance ledger there to use. I always viewed it as a nuisance. Now I begin to wonder… The idea that people don’t know enough about their balances leads me to think that over-charging on an account may be more common than one may think. Who benefits from that? The banks do – with over-draft fees. Use your ATM card in an ATM that is not your bank’s? Be prepared for an extra fee for doing so. And if you are unlucky enough to have an account that has to have a minimum balance…there’s a fee for that too. And it will be charged to your account — even if there are no funds there to cover it.
What the fsck? All these fees and rules concerning how you can spend your money – the amounts you can spend – where you can get it from. I don’t know about the rest of you — but this sounds an awful lot like being handed an allowance from my late-parents. That stopped for me when I was 16 years of age. I can only look at this and see that my cash is definitely in jail…when I am using Wells Fargo.