can someone please help me escalate a complaint with E-Trade

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I'm in Europe and I work for a US company. I was enrolled in the employee stock purchase plan, administered in the US by E-Trade, and withdrew from it 3 years ago.
Since I have no plans to enroll in the plan again, I've been trying to close my E-Trade account.

I think closing an unused account with zero balance should be straightforward but I've been experiencing a nightmare with their customer service for months now.
Every answer I get from them parrots their previous answer and completely ignores my replies and comments.

1. they give me the same link to close my account which gives me the same error (no accounts eligible for closure).
2 . they keep telling me I need to transfer the balance out of my account before closing it, I keep telling them my balance is zero, complete with screenshots.
​3. they ask me to call a phone number in the US which cuts out without connecting.

 I'm going around in circles and I need to find a way to escalate my request. Has anyone ever successfully escalated a complaint? Is it worth sending them registered snail mail? Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.

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isabellenoemie said:   I was enrolled in the employee stock purchase plan, administered in the US by E-Trade, and withdrew from it 3 years ago.
  It's been 3 years? With zero balance? It's already been closed for inactivity. Just forget about it.

Unrelated, but here's my experience.

I had a brokerage account with E-Trade. It was sitting there with 0 balance for 4 years at least (high fees, no point using it).
One day I changed employers and had to open a new brokerage account. For some reason it was set up like that, it absolutely wanted a new brokerage account to go with stock plan account.

Two weeks later they close my old brokerage account. The secure message that I received made it sound like I had requested the closure. Obviously not the case.

@atikovi: It's not closed if OP can see it online. When they close it, it disappears from online accounts page a few weeks after closure.

ETrade 's customer service is crap. I would consider that you are whole at this point and just move on. There isn't a tremendous amount of risk here to worry about and it doesn't impact your credit.

Recently, I needed to remove an excess contribution from my Roth IRA account. Because of the amount of assets I have with ETrade this should be a free transaction. On the excess contribution removal, they remove the excess and charge me a bunch of fees out of the Roth IRA. They acknowledge that the fee was in error, but have no way to repopulate the money in the Roth IRA. I'm obviously pissed off because this is tax advantaged money. While they offered to refund the fee, they put the refund in the brokerage and now I have to pay taxes on those earnings.

They also change their billpay every couple years to something worse and worse.

If I didn't have so much tied up with them, and it wasn't such a hassle to move, I would have left long ago. They suck. 

Can you send them a tweet on Twitter -- apparently lodging a complaint that way often gets quicker results than doing it via the more old-fashioned channels.

It wouldn't hurt to try writing a "real" letter and mailing it, as you suggest.

You could also send them a fax of your "real" letter -- faxes are so unusual now that one might get the attention of someone there who could actually help you with closing the account.

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It is strange that the phone number you are calling always cuts out before connecting - could this have something to do with the international nature of the call? That happened to me sometimes when I was calling US companies from abroad, especially if they were 1-800 type of numbers. Sometimes I'd have to research into a company's "local" US number (with a normal area code), if their 1-800 number never worked for me from outside the US.

If that is what is happening to you, what you might do is call E-Trade's main customer service US number from what appears to be another US number, maybe by using Skype or GoogleVoice or using a VPN on your computer or however you would want to do that.

Or, you could get an assistant at your employer's US location to call you in Europe, and then to call E-Trade's customer service number - on a multi-line phone, and patch the two calls together.

How do you know the account is still open?  Does your login still work? Do you receive account statements?  Without more details I'd be unsure with what you're really asking for here.

At worst, you could file a complaint with FINRA regarding E-Trade's failure to close your account.  They would likely contact ET regarding the complaint and that should ensure your account closure is escalated, if it hasn't been closed already.

File a FINRA Complaint: http://www.finra.org/investors/file-complaint 

If, on the other hand, you're really asking for ET to scrub your account from existence and all purge your personal information and records, its unlikely to happen.  This is because generally speaking, the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 dictates the records retention requirements for broker dealers.  Specifically, Rules 17a-3 (Records to be Made) and 17a-4 (Records to be maintained) dictate the records retention requirements for broker-dealers.  Generally, all records regarding new account opening and subsequent brokerage records are subject to a retention period of 6 years after the account has been closed.  But in reality, these days brokerages are rarely deleting information and retain account info indefinitely due to the complexities with determining which client accounts are subject to which requirements.  If you'd like to know more about the exhilarating topic of books and records retention requirements, please see the following link:
17a-3 (Records to be made) - https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/17/240.17a-3
17a-4 (Records to be maintained) - https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/17/240.17a-4

if they aren't charging you and have none of your money, why do you care?  FWIW, I've always gotten pretty good service from ETrade .  No always the answer I want sometimes, usually a prompt and reasonable response.

Me thinks OP may never come back given this is first post.

My experience is this: They never close your account. My theory is that, since they are public companies, number of customers means a lot for them. In their next conference call, they will say "we added 300K more customers", even if 400K customers moved their money elsewhere and attempted to close their accounts. So, they do everything not to close your account. I have accounts with $0 balances all over the place. I know it because I get an email every now and then about privacy etc.

I cursed off ETrade something like 15-20 years ago for a similar experience with their awful customer service.

Thank you for all the replies.

Unfortunately I can't just leave the account open and unused because I'm not a US citizen or resident. That means that every few years I need to certify my account with both the US and local tax authorities. This is already causing me problems for my tax return.

I'm also trying to find out who in our company administers this ESPP scheme, not even HR know who it is because we are restructuring and so many people have been dismissed.

Isabelle, if your username here is your real name, or a portion of your real name, it is better not to use your real name on the Fatwallet website --
and if you want to change your username here, the Fatwallet staff can help you change it easily, to something that is more anonymous.
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I hope one of my ideas for contacting E-trade works out for you!
Come back to your thread and let us know how you were able to solve your problem with E-trade.

You can't close it because it's tied to your employers ESPP. It's a condition of your employment.

Just because you're contribution % is 0, they still have to tie a brokerage account to you for award purposes.

oppidum, no worries that is not my real name 
HR in the US are trying to find a contact for me. If that doesn't help I will try the suggestions in this thread. 
I will update when I have some kind of resolution in case it helps someone else who is having the same issue.



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