I opened an online checking account with ING Direct. I didn’t use the account, and decided to close it. I found an eHow website that said I could close the account by just transferring money out. But my account webpage indicated that the $10 that I had originally deposited into the account was not available, and the attempt to transfer the full amount failed.
I called ING Direct and spoke with a representative. She put me on hold and came back to me several times. Other than ask me for my PIN, there did not seem to be much happening that would justify the 15-minute delay at this stage. She then transferred me to another representative who, she said, would be able to help me close the account.
This second representative, Chris, likewise wanted to put me on hold. I objected. He said he just needed to read the notes on the account. I said, “Chris, it’s an account that has never been used. There are no notes on the account.” He insisted there were, and after another minute or two, he was ready to proceed.
Now Chris wanted to ask some questions to verify my identity. He asked my current address and also my previous address. I was puzzled that he needed to know my previous address, since I had not used it when opening the account. He said that they used third-party companies to verify data. So I gave him the previous address. Next, he wanted to know the names of two relatives and their dates of birth. I laughed. “Chris,” I said, “I have never in my life been asked for the birthdays of two relatives when closing a checking accoiunt.” He said, “So you are unwilling to verify your identity?”
I asked to speak to a supervisor. After another hold of several minutes, Chris came back to tell me that he was now dialing his supervisor. After an additional hold, we were joined by the supervisor, John. John asked me how I was today. I said, “John, I have been on the phone for 20 minutes to close a checking account.” He said he would take care of it right away. And he did. He did not need to obtain my cousins’ dates of birth. He asked me the security questions that I had chosen when opening the account. He asked the name of the external account that I had linked to my ING Direct account. And then I was on my way.
So there. Only 22 minutes to close a checking account with $10 in it. I was able to multitask to some extent, so it wasn’t an entirely wasted 22 minutes. Overall, between the $10 restriction online and the absurd questions and excessive delay on the phone, it appeared that ING Direct (now owned by Capital One) was making it as difficult as possible to close an account. People who are not willing to go to the efforts described here are warned: in effect, ING Direct is going to charge you $10 to open a “free” account with them.