Child Support Debit Card Nightmares: Part 2

There is finally an ending to a story that began some months ago!

Back in March, I posted about some difficulties I was having with a child support debit card. The short version: after weeks of making phone calls, and several hours on the phone, I was left with the promise of getting a call back that would hopefully solve my problems.

As it turns out, that call never came.

I waited the five business days, like I was told. No one called. So, I called EPPICard–the company administering the child support debit cards–again. I got to their level 2 support department, since their frontline support had never been able to help me, and learned that the original ticket logged to get my issue resolved had been done incorrectly, so the appropriate people never saw it. I had to have it logged again and then wait another five business days.

Those days came and went and, of course, nobody called–why should I expect anything different? These people hadn’t managed to do anything they said they would.

I called them again to get an update on my ticket. Unfortunately, they were still unable to help me. After doing more digging around in their system, EPPICard simply couldn’t locate my debit card–the very card I was holding in my hand as I spoke with them. It was baffling. In desperation, the support representative suggested I call the state Attorney General’s office.

Let’s just say that the Indiana Attorney General’s office doesn’t make it easy to get in touch with anyone. It turns out that the only thing they really do with regard to this kind of problem is inherit unclaimed funds after a number of years. I figured I would check the unclaimed property database–which is a pretty cool system, by the way–but alas, they did not have my money.

At that point, I simply gave up for a while. I had too much going on both with work and my personal life, and I didn’t have the time or the mental capacity to keep stressing myself out over it. I spent several weeks avoiding the issue until I could work up the wherewithal to try again. This past week, I gave EPPICard another call. Once more, their automated system failed to recognize my information, so I had to mess with it for a while to reach a person. Once the representative looked up my file (I will note the irony that they are able to keep a log of my calls but somehow can’t keep track of my card) she became very hostile, pointing out that I’d called a number of times and that they couldn’t help me and I need to stop wasting their time. Well, thanks for nothing!

I next called Indiana’s child support hotline, which was able to confirm that I had an account, that money had been deposited to it, and that those funds had been transferred to the card. I had already suspected as much, but this didn’t get me any closer to accessing the money. However, the child support hotline noted that they didn’t have my date of birth or Social Security Number on file, and suggested that that might be interfering with other systems. Well, it was worth a shot.

I had to call the county in which my case originated. The clerk was very helpful–she took down my information, entered it into the system, and said it would be available to the state the next day. Shout-out to the Randolph County Clerk! I called the child support hotline again the following day, and they were able to confirm that they had my information, but still couldn’t do anything in terms of my dysfunctional EPPICard account. My only choice was to call EPPICard again.

By this point, my resolve had strengthened enough that I was ready to deal with rudeness. Fortunately, the first level support representative I got was not hostile or rude, and after I briefly explained my problem, she was willing to transfer me up to level 2 again. I had to wait on hold for a good while (in fact, every one of these calls except the one to the county clerk involved lengthy hold periods) until a level 2 staffer picked up. Once more, I explained my problem. I gave her some information and she was able to look up my account. This time, it wasn’t my unemployment card (as they’d found every other time), but the appropriate child support account! There was a catch, though: she noticed the card was locked, probably due to one of my fruitless journeys through their phone system, or futile attempts to use the card in the past. She walked me through setting up a new PIN and unlocked the card, and said it was ready to go.

I was then able to confirm that, indeed, it works! I finally have access to my child support funds, after months of conflict with EPPICard. I don’t know if data kicking through the systems connecting the county, state, and EPPICard are what ultimately fixed the problem, or if all it took was one competent level 2 support technician to properly look up my card and notice it was locked. I did thank that woman profusely for being the only person in that company who was ever any help to me, and it begins to make up for the rudeness and rank incompetence the rest of the company displayed.

My long, personal nightmare is over. But taking a quick look at some of the recent complaints about EPPICard, these kinds of problems are still ongoing for others. Some of the recent complaints:

  • People not receiving their cards in the first place, despite them supposedly being mailed.
  • Money being held by EPPICard for days before being made available on the card.
  • People being victims of data breaches and, unlike how legitimate credit card companies operate (such as canceling your card, issuing you a new one, and refunding any stolen money, no charge), EPPICard jerking its customers around, failing to deal with breaches in a timely manner, and then pretending customers are the problem.
  • Support reps telling customers different things about the same problem. This alone indicates deeply broken internal processes.
  • Difficulty reaching a human being through the phone system. I will say that this is not easy to figure out the first time around.
  • Nickel-and-diming customers who call to sort out all the ridiculous problems this two-bit company inflicts on people.

While I’m happy my problem was ultimately fixed, I am sorely unimpressed by how long it took. Without a lot of determination and a willingness to poke around their phone system, make numerous calls, and wait (and wait, and wait…), I’d probably still not have access. This is unacceptable. There are people who desperately need access to their child support funds, who don’t have months to wait for EPPICard to get their act together.

It doesn’t seem that being purchased by Xerox has improved the company’s operations noticeably, either.

I will just say this: if you have a choice between EPPICard and something else (like direct deposit), under no circumstances should you use EPPICard. Save yourself the hassle, and probably a lot of money.

Photo by Sean MacEntee

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James
James runs this blog and likes to write about society, culture, politics, science, technology, social justice, and pretty much anything else. Rumor has it people read his posts sometimes.

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Child Support Debit Card Nightmares: Part 2

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