Dear Secretary of the Treasury: OK, I Give Up

Dear Secretary Yellen (and Joe, too),

Invest in Series I Savings Bonds, your Treasury Department says. “Series I savings bonds are a low-risk savings product,” it says. “During their lifetime they earn interest and are protected from inflation.” With an initial interest rate on new Series I savings bonds now at 9.62 percent., they’re a good deal. 

So I tried to buy some.  Fuggedaboutit.

How hard can it be to set up a website to invest in I Bonds that’s consumer friendly and easily navigable? You’d think the Biden administration could at least do this one simple thing right, but no. 

Now bear with me.

Treasury’s website, www.TreasuryDirect.gov, is a jumbled mess, a relic of old timey confusion from when Biden was a senator. When I finally got into the section for creating an investment account, diligently filled everything out and clicked on “submit”, I was advised that there was an error. And my application was on hold.

What was the error? No clue. How could I fix it? By filling out a paper, yes, paper,TreasuryDirect Account Authorization form, getting it certified by my credit union, and snail-mailed , yes, snail-mailed, to Treasury Retail Security Services, Minneapolis, MN.

The length of time Treasury Retail Security Services might take to respond? Up to 13 weeks, I was advised. That’s right, three months.

Several weeks later, not 13 thank God, I got an email saying the hold had been removed from my account and that I could now access it. Now I’m on a roll, I figured. 

But no. When I tried to get into my account to make an investment, I made a spelling mistake in a security question response and I was locked out again.  

“If you encounter any problems during the initial log in process, you may contact us at 844-284-2676, between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.,” I was advised. “Follow the menu prompts for Individual and TreasuryDirect. A customer service representative will assist you.”

OK, that sounded simple. It was a nightmare. 

On my first call I was on hold for 3 hours and finally told that there were too many people ahead of me for my call to be answered before the office closed. For my second call, I got up at 5AM and sat on hold for 2.5 hours before connecting with an agent. It took just a couple minutes to clear up the security question issue and I was again cleared for access to my account.

I filled out an online form to make an investment . On June 21, an email came back. “Dear William:
A purchase has been scheduled in your TreasuryDirect account on 6/21/2022. For more details, go to the History tab and click Security History. If you have a question about this activity, please call (844) 284-2676. Thank you for using TreasuryDirect.”

I sat back in celebration.

Too soon.

On June 27, I received an email canceling my investment: “Dear William, We’re sorry, but your purchase request or reinvestment IAAAA was canceled. While trying to collect payment from your bank, they returned our debit. Please check the Investor InBox section of your TreasuryDirect account for more detailed information. Thank you for using TreasuryDirect.”

Now what?  I went to the Investor InBox section of my TreasuryDirect account and discovered that Treasury had sent the debit request to an incorrect bank account, not the one submitted with my purchase request. Of course the debit attempt bounced. Argggh!!!

I went back into the TreasuryDirect website and found that to get Treasury’s mistake corrected I would have to print out another paper form, get it certified at my bank, send it in, by snail mail again, and wait some more. When I tried to access the form by clicking on a link, I got a grey screen. Good grief!

You win, Janet and Joe. I give up. I’m done.

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