Sunday, January 24, 2010

Charles Schwab Review

Schwab SignI decided to open up an account with Charles Schwab.  After getting married, my wife and I needed to setup a joint account.  We have split our finances for a while now, and marriage has not changed that, but we wanted the convenience of having one joint account.

Setting up the account has not been the best experience.  For whatever reason, Schwab seems to not have come into the 21st century.  It was possible to setup a brokerage account online but it was not possible to set up a checking account online.  This required that I physically print out an application.  I thought I would be able to walk it into a Schwab branch and open an account right away.  There was a branch just down the street so this is what I decided to do.  However, all that did for me was save me some postage.  I guess the branch couldn't setup the bank account either, so they mailed my application to some central location.   They told me they would call me that day to tell me the brokerage account was opened.

No call came that day.  They cashed the check that I used to fund the account and yet still no call.  I called to check what had happened and was told that the account was opened and someone must have just forgotten to call.  OK, no problem.  The next step was to wait for the information on my bank account.  I waited and waited.  I waited two and a half weeks and heard nothing.  So I called again.  It turns out that the person who entered the information failed to enter the apartment number.  So my checks and my bank card seemed to be lost in the mail.  I was told to wait a few more days and it should show up.  The checks did eventually make their way to me, but no card.  I had no means to use an ATM and withdraw any money.

After a few more days, my wife called in.  The first person I spoke to did not seem to fix the missing apartment information.  Customer Support said they fixed the information and the cards would be coming.  A few days passed and my wife's new card did indeed come.  My card did not.  So she called again.  It turns out that for whatever reason, my information was not updated until later and a new card was not sent out at the same time.

So here I am.  It is the end of January and it has been over one month since I started this process.  I still have no bank card from Schwab.  On the plus side, the customer support, in terms of wait time, has been pretty good.  Each time I call, I get connected to a human right away.  But I am disappointed by the fact that I have had to call so many times to find out how good the response time is.  I have not used their services too much as of yet, I've bought no stock through the brokerage account as of yet, because I don't want to move money into the account until I have full access to it, so I can't say too much about the other features of the account.

One last annoying thing.  Setting up money transfers is a real pain in the ass.  Once again, Schwab has not come into the 21st century.  The only way I've been able to fund the account is to "push" the money there.  That is, i go to my other online accounts and setup a transfer from them to Schwab.  Schwab makes it VERY difficult to "pull" money from other institutions.  It is impossible to do this online.

So given all my problems, I can't strongly recommend Schwab.  I really like their customer service but that's about it.  I don't think any of this will cause me to close my account, but I'm somewhat disappointed that things just haven't been smoother.


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