After meeting with my bankruptcy lawyer the week before Thanksgiving it was decided that our filing date would be Thursday, December 2. The reasoning for this is that it's a day before I get paid and therefore the least amount of cash would be in my bank account. One of the rules is that I can't have over $750 in cash available on the day I file. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?
On Thanksgiving I was checking my account balance and I had roughly $1,100 in the bank with a week to go before filing. I was getting nervous and started looking for bills to pay early. There was the utility bill which was not due until after December 2, as well as the water bill and the internet access bill. I went ahead and paid those online and that took me down to $735. Yes! I could now relax as that would still leave me plenty to use for groceries and other routine expenses prior to the filing date. I figured I'd be down around $300 by then.
There was a small glitch, however. My Dish Network service is setup to be paid annually, and in the mayhem of the moment, I suppose I had not paid much attention to any reminder emails from them.
On Friday after Thanksgiving, I went to the liquor store with my bank debit card and was unable to get authorization on my purchase. Then I went to the supermarket and had the same problem. I was a bit suspicious now. I came home and logged into my bank account online and there are few words to convey the shock of discovering that my balance was over $400 in the red. Yes, a negative $400 balance. And right there on my screen was that processed transaction of $1,215 paid to Dish Network, courtesy of my credit union, along with the courtesy of a $24 fee for being so generous.
Now, here's how this shit works, as most of you know. Once there is one fuck up, you are virtually guaranteed of having additional fuck ups, hence the term clusterfuck. Life would have been fine and dandy if the credit union had rejected the transaction and charged me a fee for insufficient funds. Dish Network would have been happy to get their money a few days later. All the other transactions I scheduled would have passed through the gates and I would have been relatively unscathed.
Yes, dear friends and other readers, once your bank does you such a favor, buckle up for the clusterfuck, because they will only do you one favor, not three or four such favors. The Time Warner bill bounced. Ding! Insufficient funds fee posted on both ends. The utility bill bounced. DING DING! Insufficient funds fee posted on both ends. The automatic deduction of $9.95 per month for my Quicken BillPay service bounced back. They did generously go ahead and pay my water bill while simultaneously suspending my account. Ding Ding Ding!!!! Suddenly I was $555 in the hole. And that qualifies as less than $750 by anybody's math.
Thursday rolled around and we headed to the lawyer's office for the 4:00 appointment. After waiting there for 10 or 15 minutes, the laywer emerged from his spider hole and proclaimed that there was "a problem." He'd had some computer glitch that erased all his appointments, he had no idea our appointment was at that time, and he had not even reviewed our paperwork yet!
We had to hit the reset button and start over. So between last Thursday and yesterday, I was thinking I had dealt with all my financial issues and laid them to rest. Oh, but there's always a straggler!
Yesterday I tried to make a call on my cell phone and THAT had also been suspended due to funds not clearing my bank. Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!!
You gotta love how this shit just cascades! And I'm sure there are people out there less fortunate than I am who have this happen to them more often. And at some point those are the people who probably figured out they might be better off without a bank account, and just use cash.
Since I had been paid on December 3, I had already taken care of all these other problems by the time I realized there was an AT&T cell phone issue. I tried logging into my account online to do another bank draft and was instructed to call customer service. Yes, AT&T customer service! You know, that's the one getting rave customer reviews these days.
So I got a guy on the phone and I explained the situation to him, and he told me he could take the bank information on the phone and process it.... for a $5 convenience fee. I said, "You've got to be kidding me, right?"
As if I hadn't already been fucked enough, now AT&T was wanting to charge me a fee for paying my bill. GOD BLESS AMERICA and Wall Street. After I protested, he retreated and said he'd waive the fee since I had tried to do it online and failed. What a nice guy.
After a few seconds he informed me it wasn't going through, and that my only recourse at the time was to go to an AT&T store and pay CASH. "What?" I asked. "I have no other way of paying this bill than to drive 15 miles to a store and pay cash?"
"That is correct," he replied. I mumbled something about switching to Verizon, he mumbled something about that being fine, and I hung up.
By this point, my lunch was getting cold, and I was having back spasms so severe that I seriously contemplated taking a Lortab. If it hadn't been a work day, I probably would have.
Later, after I'd calmed down, and had spent half an hour or so checking out the offerings from Verizon, I logged back into my AT&T account and decided to try this again using a credit card. Voila! Payment accepted and service restored! My question is: why did that customer service representative not suggest I do that? Or offer to take my card info on the phone?
Ironically, after all of this, my cell phone is suddenly not staying charged for a day even with no usage. I think that is an omen.
Meanwhile, I am starting this entire scenario over again. I am waiting on the lawyer to set another filing date between now and next Thursday prior to my Friday pay day. And sooner would be better than later. Given the fact that when my pay check was deposited last Friday, I was already $555 in the red, going in to file bankruptcy with less than $750 in the bank is NOT going to be a problem the second time around.
If I can do this with a bank balance greater than say, $35, rather than a negative number, all the better.