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TreasuryDirect: Buyer Beware
RichB2001 02-20-2005, 2:50 PM | Post #138034 | 
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For anyone thinking about purchasing I-Bonds electronically through the TreasuryDirect web site, you may want to think again.

Recently I submitted an order for $15,000 in I-Bonds through the TD site. The Treasury was supposed to debit the funds from my bank account within 1 business day. I assumed all had gone well when I received a purchase confirmation message, which I promptly converted to a PDF file and stored on my computer.

Imagine my shock when I checked my TD account for confirmation the next evening, and saw that they had debited my bank account $30,000-- for two $15,000 purchases!

I had only pressed the purchase button once and received only one confirmation message. I have no idea how/why the TD system could have interpreted my one order as two, but certainly the system should have more safeguards built into it.

Even the most rudimentary e-commerce sites send out confirming e-mails within minutes, listing full purchase details, to the customer's main e-mail account, but TD does not. If I had gotten such an e-mail at the time of purchase, I could have corrected the error before the money was debited-- MAYBE.

Another major problem with the TD system is that it is not possible to communicate with a live human being in real time.

As soon as I saw the two purchases, I sent an e-mail through the "Contact" link on the site, requesting a refund of the second $15K purchase. I did not receive a confirmation of receipt of the message, much less a response, by the next morning. I then discovered that there is no telephone service line for TD (although you can get phone help from your local Federal Reserve Bank for paper savings bonds purchases).

I sent an e-mail to a separate TD address, so they couldn't claim they had never received the e-mail sent through the form on the web site, and asked them to call me to discuss the matter further. I did not get a call back, but rather an e-mail message saying that my request for a refund had been forwarded to "the appropriate people," and that it would take about TWO WEEKS to get a decision on whether they would refund my $15,000 to me. Given their non-responsiveness and lack of accountability to date, I am not optimistic.

$15,000 is a lot of money to me, and if I get a belated e-mail from TD telling me that they cannot refund my money because the problem is obviously my fault, then I will not hesitate to contact my congressman.

In my opinion, the TD web site software and service policies are not ready for prime time, and you should avoid trusting your hard-earned money with them.

Rich

Originally posted in thread: 39979
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