2.128 IBM, model

Wednesday 04/14/2021

Went for a walk, ending with coffee on the 11th floor. This is a really nice service the staff created: coffee and pastries from 8:30-9:30, MWF.

Next up a bit of business. Sometime in the early hours I received an email from IBM’s benefits administrator, “A recent payment we attempted to make to your account was rejected by your bank. We can no longer issue direct deposit payments to this account and need you to provide updated account information.”

There is a deep history here. For over a year, I have been trying to get VIA Benefits to deposit a periodic check of $144 to my SFCU account. I’ve filled in the routing and account number on their web form multiple times, and recently I requested a paper form and submitted it with an attached blank check as proof. It appears that this worked — to a point. At least they tried to deposit something, but couldn’t. But why would the bank reject the deposit?

I log in to my VIA Benefits account and find the following “trouble ticket” dated today at 4:01AM,

Dear MARIAN CORTESI, We are writing to inform you that your recent Direct Deposit disbursement in the amount of $144.85 dated 04/09/2021 has been returned for the reason code R15-Beneficiary or Account Holder Deceased. Please review your Banking information used for the mentioned transaction and correct the data in your account.

OK, here is the problem, clear and simple. They are trying to put money into my (formerly our) account at SFCU using Marian’s name. And SFCU is quite properly rejecting it as, “sorry, she’s dead”. Now note, VIA was informed in January 2019 of Marian’s passing, death certificate and all. And I logged in to VIA using my name and employee number and it uses my name on the web page. (It shows Marian still as “other dependent”.)

Well, this should be simple to work out. I call the customer service number and get a friendly guy (speaking with a clearly American accent, so they haven’t off-shored their customer service) who spends quite a bit of time with me and can’t make any progress. He puts me on hold for 15 minutes while he discusses it with “my coworker” and still can’t figure it out.

Now, granted, it was not that common to have married IBMers, both vested for benefits, but it is common for a retired IBMer like Marian to have a spouse as a designated beneficiary. So there should be nothing special about having two names on an VIA account, with one of them deceased. But they can’t figure it out.

I ask if he can escalate to someone who knows the system better, and he says OK, hang on. Another five minute hold and I get a lady. I ask if she is a next level person and she just says “I’m a customer service agent”. She has no understanding of the situation; she is not interested in the trouble ticket addressed to Marian; she is certain that I have somehow entered the two numbers wrong. I re-enter the numbers while on the line with here. They are immediately marked “invalidated”. She insists I need to talk to the bank and get the “correct” numbers. I ask, how could that account for a message, “Account holder is deceased” and she is unmoved; I need to talk to the bank. “Maybe they changed the number after your wife died,” she said, “they often change the number when there is some change”.

Well, that’s bullshit. First, it was January 2019 when I informed the bank (and VIA benefits) of Marian’s passing, so more than two years ago. And I am copying numbers off new checks that were issued with my name only on them. I said, “Right, thanks” and hung up.

It is a very minor annoyance for me to go and deposit a check at an ATM every couple of months. It is a minor expense to VIA to have to print and mail the check. I hope they choke on it.


Rather than post a public request for a seamstress I messaged Marcia, who knows everybody. However she is traveling and replied “talk this weekend”. They have a van exactly like the one we had, and are off for some camping. So the spray booth is on hold.

I got out the VW Golf GTI kit. The body shell is molded in a yellow plastic that is pretty close to the color I remember. However the plastic is slightly translucent, and has some texture issues, so it will still have to be painted. I spend some time researching VW yellow paint, of which they had several over the years; and then researching the yellows available as acrylics from hobby vendors. I glued one piece to another one, so the model is started.

I may be hampering myself by using only acrylic model paints. There are also enamels which are thinned and cleaned up with paint thinner, and lacquers that are thinned with (duh) lacquer thinner. But I started with a rule that I didn’t want to keep any serious chemicals in my apartment, so only acrylic paints that are thinned with water and cleaned up with rubbing alcohol. It’s really a realistic understanding of my own clumsiness. Something is going to get spilled, someday.

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