An Open Letter To E*Trade

I have no choice but to use E*Trade in my online stock dealings. My employer goes through them for stock option grants and the employee stock purchase plan. I, though, have an account with another, more friendly brokerage, where I keep my primary account.

Every time I get stock stuck in my OptionsLink (a subsidiary or something of E*Trade) account, I have it transferred to my preferred brokerage.

Normally that goes smoothly, but this time they’re taking their own time, and it’s gotten out of hand. Thus, I present an open letter to E*Trade, in response to their customer service representative asking for five business days to respond to my transfer status inquiry: Dear E*Trade:

As you requested up to five (5) business days to respond to me, and today is the sixth business day, I am writing you back to follow up.

If you have not yet heard back from your transfers department, please pass this along to help put it into perspective from a customer’s point of view:

I currently HATE E*TRADE. I hate you guys. I hate everything about you. If I could get away from using you at all, I would, and the only reason I HAVE to use you is because my company has some sort of deal with you and OptionsLink and I can’t change that.

Why, you might ask, am I so irritated? I could list any number of reasons, but they all come down to customer service.

The E*Trade web site, from the beginning, is geared more towards the user who actively participates in online trading, who sort of knows something about stock trading already. (This may not be the case, but that is my perception based on the options available and navigational structure.) I am not a heavy trader. I have stock in my company, but I require an entry level sort of service or guidance.

I was able to muddle through and find the transfer request information, but you only seem to be able to transfer INTO E*Trade, not OUT. To transfer OUT, I have to fax you - FAX! - a letter, then wait an arbitrary number of business days for my stock to transfer - get this - from OptionsLink to an E*Trade brokerage account, THEN from that account to my preferred brokerage. At no point in the process am I alerted to the state of my transfer; I am kept in limbo and have to keep checking back and hoping the transfer has completed.

I came to discover this transfer process because I was told that a transfer takes UP TO 5 business days. At the 10 business day level I became concerned. I was told that “things were behind, but everything should be done in 5 more business days.” I waited that length of time, and it’s still not done. I contacted you via your web site. I did get a timely response from you (which I appreciate) that told me to wait up to ANOTHER 5 BUSINESS DAYS. I have now waited A MONTH for a simple transfer to happen, with no status update during that time other than “WAIT.”

I am very frustrated with this whole situation. Obviously I am not in a financial position occupationally, so I hesitate to say that a transfer is a “simple process,” but considering that this must be a common thing that occurs daily, I also hesitate to say I have some exceptional circumstances which would require so much additional time.

Please let me know what the status of my transfer is and when EXACTLY I can look forward to seeing it completed. This is beyond nuts.

Thanks, -T