To be able to pay a few U.S. bills, it seemed like a good idea to set up a so-called cross border account. It allows you to pay most bills online versus having to rely on the post office in two countries that, in my experience, can take upwards of two weeks.
The TD website stated I’d experience the TD “legendary service” and it’d take about seven minutes. Not quite. It took 18 days, 17 calls, and five trips to my branch! If you’re prone to stress or have any medical condition, don’t start down this path if someone like me, with a credit management and finance degree, went through this kind of nightmare with the TD. I’d love to know how many thousands of people start the process online and then simply abandon it. However, their media relations department chose not to respond to my inquiry.
Here are some of my nightmare highlights, and what you’re likely in for if you decide to open one of these accounts:
Day 1: Yes, the online process took about seven minutes. It triggered an immediate email that my account just needed a deposit and it would be open and active. “Just stop by your neared TD bank.”
Within an hour, that’s what I did. When my TD gentleman called Cross Border (as Canadian branch people certainly aren’t familiar with any of these types of accounts) he was told, no, there are a lot of other steps and sent me home to first get this account set up online.
When I called, they gave me temporary password and I needed to go in to set up the online access.
Then another call: Do I now have an account and can make a deposit? No, you now need to get a W5 and signature card completed and faxed.
Day 4: Back to the branch where a really helpful lady spent over 1 1/2 hours on the phone to Cross Border in order to figure out what they needed, where on the system those forms were, how to complete them, and where to send them. All the time she was on hold, she scrolled through their internal “how to” and couldn’t make any sense of that.
Finally, she got the information, I completed the forms, and surely now I’d be set.
Day 5, Day 6, Day 7: Calls to Cross Border to see if those forms had been received.
Day 8 it turns out they received one form but not the other.
Day 9, Day 10, Day 11 emails and calls to the branch to re-send the forms once again. Why they wouldn’t allow the branch to scan them made no sense to anyone. No – they need to be faxed. That came from a supervisor by the name of Carmelle who assured me she’s be the one to help me get this opened and that I should call her from now on. (She then ignored four telephone messages over the next three days…)
Day 12 Cross Border actually received both forms now – according to an incredibly rude man at their 800 number. Hurray – I’m done, right?
No, you now need to activate your account debit card that’s in the mail.
Day 13 I managed to activate it. But now how to make a deposit. I was actually told by the Cross Border people located in the U.S. that there’s no such thing as TD Bank in Canada. TD is only in the U.S. In Canada, it’s only Canada Trust. Gee, I wonder if millions of their customers here know that….
Day 14 back at the branch. To be able to make a deposit, I need to just do it in person at the branch. WHAT? To make a $100 deposit I need to fly to Florida where the account physically “lives” in a branch? It turns out, I needed to also open a U.S. dollar account here in Canada – another 45 minutes to set that up.
Now I can deposit into my Canadian US account and transfer it, right? Well, no – you need to do that online or by calling Cross Border people.
Day 15 Cross Border people tell me that both accounts need to be “linked.” With me online and their help on the phone, that got done. Now I can transfer money, right? Yes, but how. They suggested I could do wire transfers from one to another. Thank heavens I asked about the fee. That’s $30 per transaction! WHAT? That’ll never happen.
Day 16 The 800 number in Canada, for Canadians, was a whole lot more helpful than the Cross Border people. To transfer, I can click on the international transfers and do a “visa direct” transfer. The lady couldn’t explain why it’s “visa” when I’m doing a transfer from a chequing account to a chequing account. But….I’m thinking I’m close…Oh, there’s a fee of $8.95…nooooo….but I was assured it’d be charged but reimbursed the same day.
Day 17 With money in my new TD US account here in Canada, I did manage to make the transfer to my new Cross Border US chequing account. And, hurray, the fee was reimbursed.
Seven minutes turned into 17 days. Was it worth it? For my monthly convenience: Yes. For most people who will get caught in this process: No way.
I’m not sure if this experience is what TD meant when they referred to it as “legendary service.”