Bank Apologizes After Couple's Financial Nightmare

Chase Bank has apologized to a customer after he and his wife say they were forced to endure a financial nightmare for no good reason.

Tom and Christine Garrison said it all started when they visited the Chase branch at 15903 Ventura Boulevard in Encino on March 12.

Tom Garrison says when he attempted to make a withdrawal, the teller said there was problem.

“They say ‘we noticed a lot of activity on your account,’” he told the NBC4 I-Team.

Tom Garrison says he’d made more transactions than usual, but never exceeded the allowable limit for withdrawals.

The situation escalated, he says, when his wife made a comment about another teller’s interaction with a customer a few feet away.

“I have a very positive, dominating spirit,” Christine Garrison explained, “And I said ‘you guys need to have a little more respect for customers.’”

According to the couple, her comment triggered more attention from bank staffers, who started asking if Tom Garrison if he was “OK.”

They say employees separated them, taking Mr. Garrison to a private office and asking him “if everything [was] alright”.

“[The bank] could perceive something different, but she’s my wife and we’re one, and we work together as a team,” Tom Garrison said.

“[I’m] frustrated,” he continued. “As a loyal customer, my credit is fine and I don’t have any liens.”

Despite his protests, the bank informed him the account would be frozen.

Several days later,Tom Garrison received a letter from a senior vice president at Chase Bank, saying his account had been closed. He says he made another visit to the bank to clear up the problem, with no success. Hours on the phone with customer support did not lead to a resolution.

After four weeks with no access to the funds in Tom Garrison’s account, the couple reached out to the I-Team for help. We presented their complaints to the Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs.

“Clearly this person is entitled to have access to his money, and he has the right to use the money in any way shape or form that he wants,” said Chief Investigator Rigoberto Reyes.

Reyes says the bank had no right to freeze the account, unless there were valid concerns about his mental capacity or safety.

The I-Team contacted Chase Bank, and received the following statement from spokeswoman Suzanne Alexander:

“When we detect suspicious activity on an account, we will freeze it until we can complete an investigation. Our priority is protecting our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience experienced by Mr. Garrison.”

Six weeks after that first, fateful visit to the bank, Tom Garrison finally received a check for the remaining balance on the account.

While the couple is happy their ordeal is over, Christine Garrison says the experience has left her with bitter memories.

“I just believe that this is the problem in the country,” she said. “We do not have respect for each other.”

If you feel your bank has treated you unfairly, you can file a complaint with the L.A. Department of Consumer Affairs by following this link.

You can also call 800-593-8222 (in L.A. County) or 213-974-1452 (outside L.A. County).

To see how U.S. banks rate, according to a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, you can follow this link.

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