TD Waterhouse

I don’t usually complain about stuff like this because I realize that there are very few people who are truly on the ball when it comes to their jobs, and the chances of finding them in a front-line support/retail position are slim to none. So when I phone up a company and ask for something, I’m not surprised if it isn’t done right, and I don’t complain if I have to phone again to get it fixed.

But damn, this one really takes the cake.

Around mid-August, on prompting from my dad I started the conversion of my TD Waterhouse cash accounts to margin accounts. Sounded simple enough, they’d probably just have to twiddle a bit or two on their side and I’d be good to go. Haha, right.

First an explanation of TDW’s account numbering. Account numbers are six digits long, the letter after them denotes the account type: A=Canadian Cash, B=US Cash, E=Canadian Margin, F=US Margin.

  1. I began this adventure with two accounts: 123123A, 123123B
  2. Phoned them up asking to change the accounts from A/B to E/F. The guy says I have to go into a TD branch to fill out and sign some forms.
  3. I do that the next day, but the forms are actually electronic and on TD’s intranet. They’re identical to the new account application here, save for a single question at the beginning asking for my current account number. Being suspicious, I explicitly confirm with the rep that these forms are for an account change, not a new account. She assures me this is the case, and photocopies my driver’s license to go in with the application (more on this later).
  4. The following week I get a package in the mail. “Thank you for opening a margin account with TD Waterhouse. Your new account numbers are 456456E/F.
  5. I phone them up and exclaim “WTF?” The guy tells me it isn’t possible to change the status of an existing account, they can only create new ones. Fine, so I ask them to transfer all assets from 123123A/B to 456456E/F, and close 123123A/B.
  6. A couple days later I log into the website and see six accounts: 123123A/B/E/F and 456456E/F. Again I exclaim, “WTF? Lying bastard, they can change existing accounts just fine!” They’ve transferred my assets by this point, but all accounts are still open. So I take the opportunity to phone them up and ask that they transfer from 456456E/F to 123123E/F, then close 123123A/B and 456456E/F.
  7. The next day I receive a letter saying that I must send in a photocopy of my driver’s license for account 456456E/F or risk paying higher commissions. Gee, what went in with the application in step 3?
  8. Within a couple days everything looks good and I’m happy.
  9. The following week, all of a sudden everything is transferred back to 456456E/F, and all accounts are closed except for 123123E. Yes, you read that right, it completely blew my mind too.
  10. Everything is fixed within a week and I’m happy again.
  11. Later, I try to place an online trade and it says, We cannot accept an order for account 123123F at this time. The person on the phone tells me, “Oh, it’s because 123123F is about to be closed, so it doesn’t allow trades. At this point it’s been about 6 weeks since step one, so I give up and switch brokerage houses. Kidding, but it’s been a real test of patience.

There’s an old adage that says you should never attribute something to malice if it can be more easily explained by ignorance, incompetence, or just plain stupidity. Sounds applicable, but in this case I really have to wonder.

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