Yea Etrade Bank, Boo Etrade Brokerage

I recently posted about how Etrade failed to post my $25 sign up bonus in the timeframe they commited to.

After a gentle reminder to their customer service department, the $25 was promptly posted.

Still no ATM card, but I sent that request via snail mail so I don't expect to hear back for a while.

Then when Etrade does the right thing, another issue crops up.

A couple of days ago I tried to add a small amount to a mutual fund I own: PNRZX Jennison Natural Resources Z.

Etrade's interface listed the details- this is a no load fund with $0 minimum for additional investments meaning I can add $5 if I want- some funds require at least $100 or $1000, etc.

Then when I tried to buy, I got an error message. I had added a little to this fund in early January so I was surprised by the issue. I sent another note to Etrade's customer service inquiring about the error. They must be getting tired of me, but I don't make these issues up.

They responded:

"Thank you for your message regarding trading PNRZX. I apologize for any confusion. We no longer have a selling agreement with Jennison to sell the PNRZX fund. I have submitted a request to see if we can get another selling agreement but there is no guarantee that we are able to get an agreement. If you wish to sell the fund you can contact us by phone and we can place the trade for you. We can not allow you to purchase more shares through us until we have a selling agreement with the fund company."

Ok- so that is a bummer, but what irks me is they did not let me know. I own the fund, I add to it regularly. I have to find out by getting an error message and miss an investment opportunity? How hard is it to query out investors who own a fund when they lose the ability to buy or sell that fund through their interface and send us a heads up? How many other Etrade investors own this and are going to try and sell their holding and be thwarted?

Morningstar still lists that the fund is available through Etrade? See how Etrade is advertising itself on Morningstar's site above this false information?

I sent Morningstar an update that the fund is no longer available through Etrade. I'll let you know what they say.

You'll also note in the image above that the fund has an initial investment minimum of 10 million dollars. I put a little less than that (understatement) into the fund back in May 2006 (my initial investment is up almost 23%, the addition I made in Jan is down 5%).

I wonder if Jennision is trying to cut down on new cash coming into the fund, but does not want to close it to new investors for some reason. I also wonder if other fund companies are terminating buy agreements with Etrade and if this is a symptom of bigger issues? I really have no idea in either case, I just know if I want to sell the fund, I have to call Etrade and then try and avoid the fee they charge for phone orders...

Anyway, I understand that fund companies are going to do what they want, but I would have appreciated a notice about the change before I actually tried to add to my holding.


Anonymous said...

Google "etrade problems" and see how many forums pop up with people griping about etrade's awful customer service for banking and brokerage- accounts not credited, resistance to closing accounts, CS e-mails and calls ignored, sign-up snafus. The list goes on and on.

I wish I had done some more research on them before I opened an account.

Wyliemoney said...

Thanks for your comment!

I'm still on the fence about whether I believe Etrade is worse than other Brokerages or Banks.

I've asked many people, what is a better Bank or Brokerage and have not gotten an answer yet. That does not mean I won't hold Etrade accountable for sucking... note several posts on this blog (hehe).

I had Discover Brokerage and HarrisDirect before Etrade and Etrade is a much better interface that offers far more functionality. They also offer more mutual funds.

I had terrible service at Etrade right after HarrisDirect was bought by Etrade, but since then I have always gotten very swift replies so as long as I stay on top of things, I get done what I need to get done.

Even the issues I have with setting up my Etrade bank account don't hold a candle to the nightmare I've had with Sovereign Bank and with them I can even go in to talk to real people!

Well that has not helped- Sovereign is horrible. I am constantly finding and contesting fees out of left field and something as simple as ordering new checks was a huge hassle.

The most recent absurdity was an account with a scaled rate based on your amount eposited, that does not scale automatically. Since the account had been open for a while, it did not automatically pay the rate for the balance, we were told we needed to keep track of where the rate teir cuttoffs were and notify them if we went up.

I feel pretty certain that if our balance goes back under the level it is at, they will not wait for us to notify them to lower what they are paying, but they are so terrible, that would not surprise me...

Citibank has been fine, but their rates are silly low.

David Jones said...

I use both Etrade and Bank of America for banking. BOA is my primary bank, and I've had countless problems with them.

The latest being that they haven't after two months sent me the checks I ordered or allowed me to use bill pay with my new checking account despite calling them once and requesting they fix it.

I've had similar problems throughout my time with them - especially with online banking. Let's just say the acquisition
of Fleet did not go smoothy.

One problem with their services did work out in my favor. I used to have a brokerage account through BOA. Their policies stated that if my combined minimum was below $X thousand, there was no monthly fee.

Since they didn't know how to properly link the accounts, they just waived the fee, eliminating my need to maintain a minimum balance or a BOA brokerage account.