August 24, 2020

Calcium Phosphate, Lead, Brass, Bismuth, Batteries, Boxes, and Banking

Baleful banality bides below.

For those uninterested in such matters, here is Tsana in the Lansane. Support his work on Fanbox
Volume is crushing us at work. Hirings have, at least for now, outpaced the quittings and we're running the maximum possible number of multi-person unload teams which is leading to an insane flow rate of parcels per minute, far exceeding even Christmas levels. Adding to the general stress of doing heavy labor while breathing through a mask in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity is the fact that our glorious leader has redefined what a small package is.  Smalls are put in big nylon bags or cardboard totes to prevent them from being damaged by larger parcels or falling behind equipment and getting lost/delayed. Previously "smalls" were boxes under 5 pounds (sometimes 3 depending on the year) that could fit through a coathanger. 
This definition was arrived at over 100 years of experience. Some years ago (in the '90s) this was relaxed to facilitate more parcels being shipped in bags which speeds up the loading/unloading process in the trailers. However that immediately resulted in injuries and damages because a small box can be heavy, and as a result the executive board, all of whom had as a matter of policy until recently worked at U.P.S. at the operational level for several years to gain operational experience before sitting on the board, quickly reversed the decision and kept the old definition in the policy book. Our new C.E.O. is a crackerjack administrator with an excellent resume' and reputation.....and is unfettered by any practical on-the -job-experience. She is quite sharp, very knowledgeable about the finance end of things, and can read a spreadsheet, so the practical issues as opposed to the visible and very real benefits of this ill-advised policy are lost on her. In particular, there's one specific type of small package that probably doesn't register in the societal circles that a professional C.E.O. resides in. 


Oh. My. God. 

I have never SEEN so much ammo. It appears that it's not a shortage so much as a buying frenzy. It's just blowing off the shelves...but I assure you, it's being delivered. Put a dozen or more of THOSE in a big nylon bag and send those bags down the belt for someone to pull off 20-40 times a minute and if one would just walk out of ones air-conditioned boardrooms and observe a smalls-sort inbound operation one would understand the practical ramifications that are not presented on one's spreadsheet. In particular there is one position in our building where one employee has to pull off all the smalls sort bags to be sorted by the small package sorters, as well as all the oddball parcels that have to be looked up or address-corrected by the clerks, and in addition place the cardboard totes of the "small" packages that have been sorted  to the outbound belt that is above head hight. Only one person can fit in this position because of poor industrial design, though, in fairness, it was designed with the old package definitions in mind. At any rate, it's a pretty tough position to be working in during the extended shifts that are resulting from the current COVID crisis. Most vexatiously, that particular position is filled by your humble blogger. ( amusingly, when I was out 4 days with a rotator cuff injury earlier in the year because...bolts and bullets....two of the people they got to cover my position quit.) 

OTOH, I can't complain about the pay and benefits, which are good. I can retire at any time, and I'm getting an excellent work-out with free weights, in what amounts to a sauna...and am being PAID to do it. Why they don't make more of the free exercise perks in their recruiting escapes me. They'd probably attract a workforce that appreciates such things as opposed to { rant about THESE KIDS TODAY goes here}. Another perk of my job, for me at least, is that I don't have to bend over often, which is fortuitous given that my recent trip to the urologist informed me that I'm the proud owner of 11(that's ELEVEN) kidney stones. I had been drinking a gallon of water during and after my shift, but it turns out I was still dehydrated, hence the stones. Oh well, more water, less gatorade, and best of all, the pain is confirmed not to be a spinal injury so....Yaaay?! 

"Yay! Kidney Stones!"

(weeps internally)

In other news: Generally, when in college, I paid as I went, dropping out random semesters to build up cash for classes that cost over 1000 dollars a pop for a three credit class. However, towards the end, with medical bills looming, only a few credits left and the prospect of getting moved into another catalog AGAIN hanging over me like a sword of Damocles, I took out two semesters worth of student loans to finish. This is a nominal amount and not a great concern. In fact I've been paying ahead two or three months almost every time I make a payment and have made as many as four payments a month, in addition to putting money on the principle. Moreover, once things stabilize with COVID and I can again proceed towards the Japan job and retire from the current one, I'll have ample cushion for the transition. 

So yes. Yay for the Brickmuppet.


In theory.

This month, with bills from hospital visits and Urology appointments all coming due I decided to make my student loan payment(s) this week instead of last week....'cause I'm 13 months ahead! Woot! Happy dance!

And then, on Friday, the phone rang.

And it was Wells Fargo. They were informing me that I was in arrears on my student loan. 

Well, being a paranoid old fart, I have my receipts! So I asked them to please go over my payment history as I know...13 months ahead on my student loans.

I was informed by the collections teller that yes, she could in fact see that I had been making multiple payments almost every time I stopped by a Wells Fargo. However, I was not allowed to pay AHEAD more than 21 days in advance of a payment due date. That is: If I knew that something unexpected was going to affect my cash flow in the upcoming month then I could make a payment for the upcoming month, not with my payment for the previous month, but no less than 9 days later and have it applied to the subsequent month...but not the month after that. 

 I of course responded with as much stoicism as possible, as befits a gentleman but internally I was all like....


In any event, I to what had become of the payments that I had receipts for and had specifically told various tellers at various times to "Pay ahead X-months." to distinguish this from the money being put on the principal. 
I was informed that the bank had put it on the principal and not, as I had speculated to her,  into the Wells Fargo vacation fund. 

Using my amazing credit card powers, I paid the bill and will pay off the credit card as I always do at the end of the month. I was still in the grace period for the loan, so, no harm no foul, and I've put even more money on the principle than I'd thought. 

Still, this fills me with white hot, burning, Brobdingnagian rage for three reasons. 

One, they did not inform me at the time, so I could not make informed which payments to pay FIRST. Two, another example of an informed decision, given an impossibility of paying ahead on the loan, would have involved pondering the buying of stocks at the naidr of the stock market's Coronavirus implosion and riding the subsequent wave. Thirdly, it is literally impossible to pay off the loan responsibly, getting ahead three months in case of unforeseen events, which are by their nature unforeseen. 

This tautology is unlikely to be lost on Wells Fargo and the purpose of this asinine and frankly evil policy is undoubtedly  to make even responsible loan customers more likely to pay the bank late fees.  This is not a good-faith misunderstanding like the individual package weight issue with my job noted above. This was done with malice aforethought. 

Wells Fargo is the biggest student loan processor in the country, so all those millennials with 90-100,000+ dollars in debt are trapped in a hell that I had not even conceived of until now. My debt is tiny, and I have a solid job, at a good company, but they, like me, cannot even pay ahead to cope with the unforeseen events that hit somebody who is fresh out of college and doesn't have a steady career. They're not ALLOWED to be responsible. And that absolutely sucks. 

But then what do I know. I went through high school home economics in 1987, when they were still using old math.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:23 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 1517 words, total size 11 kb.

1 Good Lord, that Wells Fargo story is horrible!
WF are scum.  I had a car loan through them and my payment was due a couple days before payday.  I called about 5 times asking them to send me a form to move my payment date and they never sent one, so I spent a couple of years getting hit with $25 or so late payments every month.

Posted by: Rick C at Mon Aug 24 09:16:39 2020 (Iwkd4)

2 Yep, WF definitely should have outlined that policy to you.  It's either bad training or a backdoor way into additional fees.  Not telling you how things work when you explicitly were asking for something outside of policy kinda leans me towards the latter (or maybe a combination based on which level of personnel you're talking about).  If your loan statements and/or receipts were giving you a "your next payment will be due on xxxx" date that was getting further and further into the may have a decent UDAAP case.

That said, this is an interesting case study in how "reasonableness" and "in the best interests of the consumer" are nebulous concepts to hang regulation on.  I can see where you're coming from in terms of trying to get several months ahead to guard against unforeseen events.  I argue that, for the general person at least, if not you personally, it is at least as reasonable to get 1 month ahead and put the rest towards principal in order to reduce the total payment amount.  The short version of the argument being that 1 is as arbitrary a cutoff as 2 or 3 would be*.  In an ideal world, an even more optimal strategy might be to get 1 month ahead, put 1-2 months of payments into a some sort of interest bearing near-cash*, and then put the rest towards principal.  This preserves ~3 months of cushion which maximizing the total payment reduction.  I suspect that you'd have landed on a process something like that if WF had actually told you that you couldn't be 13 months ahead.

*YMMV here, mostly my argument is that it's not facially unreasonable to argue that the cushion provided from 1-3 months is approximately the same.

**I recommend against the stock market for this, btw.  The risk that something causing a hit to the market would cause a hit to short term personal income at the same time is quite high.  I'm not saying that anything that might cause you to access that safety net would force you to sell a dip, but rather that something that forces a significant stock market dip would probably cause you to need to sell the dip to access those funds.  The fact that the long term zero interest rate policy is driving up the cost of liquidity for the general pubic is, sadly, a separate problem.  

Posted by: Really Bored at Mon Aug 24 13:23:04 2020 (7vK48)

3 The problem with WF was that unlike, for example, BofA, they refused to play along with "voluntary" excommunication of firearm-related businesses. So, they were the last refuge of various LGS-type people, and cannot easily be disposed of. My own company banks at BBVA by keeping a low profile and registering as "miscellaneous parts manufacturing".

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Mon Aug 24 15:37:59 2020 (LZ7Bg)

4 Bored: no, what happened was simply that my payment due date happened to be, say, on the 10th, and my pay schedule was such that I got paid (semimonthly) on the 15th, and at the time, since I paid the rent with my other paycheck, and didn't have a lot of extra money, I couldn't really make the payment on time.  Lots of companies are willing to shift your due date around a few days here or there over the phone.  WF was in theory willing to--but you had to call them, and ask them to mail you a paper form to fill out and mail back to them.  Incredibly stupid.  I asked them 5 times to do so and never received it, so my payments were late every month for just about the entire loan period, which probably hurt my credit rating, too, in addition to the late fees.  That wasn't the only problem I had with them; every time I needed a new debit card, either because the current one died or expired, I would go into my local branch and ask for a new one, and it would never appear, so a few weeks later, I would have to go in again and ask a second time.  That happened to me three separate times over several years.

Posted by: Rick C at Mon Aug 24 22:01:35 2020 (Iwkd4)

5 Rick C.:  Sorry, I was talking about the Muppet's woes specifically.  Yours were/are standard lender douchebaggery, yeah.  Tho usually there's a grace period (by law) before they can charge a late fee, so again...might have a UDAAP case (IANAL, etc, etc).  
Pete:  Yep, I fled BofA because of that.  And cited that decision in writing on the "why are you leaving?" question.  I skipped over to a credit union (DCU) to avoid the general big bank problem.

Posted by: Really Bored at Tue Aug 25 17:03:54 2020 (7vK48)

6 I used to use Wells Fargo because they bought the bank I used before that. They encouraged people to use their Debit cards, and I was in the habit, then they announced that they were going to "Experiment" with charging you a $3.00 fee if you used your Debit card any month.

I decided to "Experiment" with a different bank and went with a local credit union loosely affiliated with my employer (but actually only requiring that you live in this state). I got interest on my checking, a much lower rate on my cards, and ATMs if I was so inclined actually at work.

WF eventually decided not to kill the goose, but the goose left anyway. I keep the credit card and only use it when they threaten to drop it for inactivity just for the cost of maintaining the account.

Posted by: Mauser at Wed Aug 26 23:36:47 2020 (Ix1l6)

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