David Findlay

a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

ShareBuilder lets me down: Trusting Email Delivery

I opened a ShareBuilder account in January so that I could buy a single share of Apple when it dropped from $200 to $130. I have an ING Direct account, and they recently acquired ShareBuilder, and with their no minimums approach it seemed to be a good fit.

So, I bought my share for $130 plus a $10 transaction fee and didn't think much more about it. I set up the Stock widget in Dashboard to watch AAPL and was pleased to see it up to around $167 this week. Then I got an email from ShareBuilder acknowledging the transfer of funds from my account. I was very concerned, since I had made no such transfer. I immediately called them, and they told me that they had closed my account because they were unable to verify the information I had supplied when opening the account. They couldn't even tell me what part they had a problem with. Apparently they had sent me an email about it back in January; an email that I never received. One...single...email. I explained I had not received the email and they confirmed they had not bothered to make any kind of follow up whatsoever: no second email, no phone call, nothing. So they sold my share for the exact amount I originally bought it at and initiated the transfer of the money back to my checking account.

Nice, huh? Who on earth uses a one-time email for something as critical as this? I don't expect personal service from an online provider on a daily basis, but I don't think it's too much to expect them to be a little more proactive before choosing to sell my portfolio and close my account. Now, I'm only out $30 so far on them selling my share before I wanted to, but what if I'd bought 1000 shares? Plus, how annoyed am I going to be once Apple's back to $200 and head north from there?

As you can imagine, I declined their pathetic offer of one free trade and the 'opportunity' to go through the activation process again.