So my latest customer service nightmare (or was it dream-come-true) was with Fidelity. My Former Employer (now defunct) transferred everyone to Fidelity 401(k) the same day they let a huge chunk of the staff go. Previously, we were with someone else. It’s hard for me to say who, because you’ve got all those players – you’ve got the local office of a national company and you’ve got the actual adminstration firm who handles the 401(k) and despite the fact that I traveled to Kansas and did a full day of research following the document flow inside that administration firm, I still don’t understand as a consumer how they related to the other company, etc.

Anyway, the company is gone. The 401(k) is closed. Time to get the money out of there. Fidelity would like you to roll it over with them, but I decided to take it to the company I had been dealing with for my other investments, who I met when they handled some aspect of the initial 401(k) at my Former Employer. Confused yet?

So I had them take care of all the forms – they know exactly what to do. But then I get a call from them, they can’t close out my 401(k) (despite my signing all the forms), I have to do it online with fidelity, or on the phone. Here’s the URL, or phone number. Okay. Fine. I’m not sure what I’m going to do transaction-wise, but I go in to see. Website – no luck – you can’t make that kind of transaction, they really want you to go see your plan adminstration (that’s the person in the company that handles this stuff, but there is NO COMPANY any more). So, I call. Really, all the telephone number is for is to tell you to go to the website (or see your plan administrator). No way to speak to someone, no way to do anything.

Back to my rep, I go. She gets on the phone (conferencing me in) and it was a thing of beauty – they gave her SUCH a runaround, and she handled it so well. It turned into this incredible who’s on first routine. They escalated us to the 401(k) response team (or something equally inaccurate) who were unwilling to say or do anything unless the person they were speaking to was an owner of the Former Employer. First of all, I was calling as a participant, not to change the plan, but to get my money out. Second of all, as my rep insisted, the company does NOT exist. Time and time again, the Fidelity person gave the same names of people and their phone numbers, and my rep reminded them that they no longer work at that company, that those phone numbers or email addresses are not valid, and that the company is bankrupt. There is no plan administrator. We started over like 3 times, each time, the Fidelity rep asked WHO the person with me on the line was and what their title was, and what their role was. Over and over again. It seemed as if Fidelity had no record anywhere in their system that Former Employer had gone bankrupt. Despite letters being sent to all members of the 401(k) from the Former Employer with instructions on how to proceed with Fidelity. But I didn’t have to handle it, I just listened, and my rep did an awesome job of being persistent, getting annoyed just enough, trying multiple options in order to find a way to have the Fidelity person get something done.

So, soon I shall no longer be a customer of Fidelity, and I shall be thrilled.


About Steve