Friday, June 19, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished...

This is going to be a bit of a long blog post as I have quite a story to tell. It began two weeks ago...

GE pays its employees every other Friday. Like clockwork, whether I deserve it or not, my salary is deposited directly into my NFCU account. After a tax deductions, long term disability insurance, health insurance deductions, 401(k) contributions, etc., my bi-weekly salary has been the same amount for months. So, on the morning of 5 June, I did not bother to go on line and check what had been deposited into my savings account. I went to work, and in a quiet moment, I logged onto my NFCU account and noticed that in addition to my normal paycheck, there were two other payments. One of the payments was for $300, and the other was for $600. Thus, precisely $900 was deposited into my savings account, above and beyond my expected salary. I sent an e-mail to my local payroll representative and she was unable to determine why I received a $900 increase in my pay. She told me to call the GE Payroll central office, which I did as soon as she sent me the 800 number. My call with GE Payroll went something like this:

"Hello, this is Mary, with GE Payroll, can I help you?"

"I hope so. I received an extra $900 pay last night and I doubt that these funds were meant for me."

"OK, let me ask you a few questions..."

Mary asked me 5 or 6 questions, such as "Do you work overseas? Did you recently move?..." and my answers were all the same: "No." Mary said to me, "Well, I cannot see why you were paid an extra $900, so I will need to open a trouble ticket and start an investigation. That will take a few days and we will contact you."

I thanked Mary and went back to work. On 10 June, I received the following e-mail:

From: ~Corp PR Infrastructure
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:28 AM

To: Kratochwill, Paul (GE Infra, Aviation, US)

Cc: ~Corp PR Audits
Subject: FW: sso#,Paul Kratochwill

Dear Mr. Kratochwill,
As per your call last Friday regarding the checks you received on
06/05/09 for local premium, after further research I found out these were entered by HR, Robert DeVry. Please check with him, regarding whether these payments are valid or not. Thank you.
GE Payroll

Great. Payroll is telling me that somebody named Robert DeVry approved this payment and I need to contact him. Nobody from Payroll was going to investigate this issue and contact Mr. DeVry. I was directed to contact him.

I looked in the GE Global Address List and there were three Robert DeVrys listed. One worked in Massachusetts, one worked in Missouri, and the last one worked in the United Kingdom. I decided to call GE Payroll again to see if they could narrow down the field of Robert DeVry who approved these payments to me down to one. After 5 or 6 minutes of discussions with Lisa from Payroll, she confirmed that the Robert DeVry in Massachusetts was the person who entered the authorization for the payment of "local premium pay." I sent Mr. DeVry an e-mail explaining what had occurred and within 30 minutes he responded that he had indeed submitted the authorization for me to be payed the additional $900, but that these funds were supposed to go to a co-op student. He said that he entered the wrong employee ID number (mine was one digit off from the co-op student's employee ID number). He apologized and said and that he would contact Payroll and have the funds withdrawn from my account.

Now, I waited. Each morning I checked my NFCU account and each day the $900 was still there. I know that GE is a big company and it might take some time for the Payroll Department to right its wrong. Fast forward to Friday, 19 June. Today was my next scheduled payday. Once again, I checked my NFCU account and the $900 was still there. What was missing was my scheduled paycheck.

I went to work and had a couple of back to back morning meetings. After the meeting ended, I returned to my desk and now it was time to call Payroll again. My call went something like this:

"Hello, this is Deborah at GE Payroll, how can I help you?"

"Hi. I was waiting for GE Payroll to take back the $900 it mistakenly gave me two weeks ago, but not only did Payroll not take back the $900, but it did not pay me last night."

"Let me see what happened. Oh, I see. On 15 June, we tried to take back to $900 but since the funds were deposited into your savings account, federal banking rules prohibit us from making withdrawals from savings accounts. When Payroll was unable to withdraw the funds, it assumed that your account had been closed, so a paper paycheck is being mailed to you for your protection."


"Yes, a paper check has been issued and should arrive at your business address today or early next week. Also, since Payroll was unable to withdraw the $900, you will receive a letter from us asking that you repay the $900 by check or deduction from your paycheck within 45 days of receipt of the letter."

"You are kidding me, right?"


"Let me get this straight. Payroll made a mistake two weeks ago paying me monies I should not have received. I pointed out the error, Payroll was unable to retrieve the funds, and then Payroll decided that my bank account was closed, so instead of my paycheck being directly deposited into my account, you are sending me a paper check that I might see today or sometime next week?"


I remained pleasant to Deborah as she did not cause this problem and she was trying to help me. I asked her if there was someone I could speak to in order to complain about what had happened and she said that all she could so is place my call into an automated survey of the service Payroll had provided to me. I told Deborah if that was the best that could be done, I would be happy to take the survey.

I took the survey and was asked at the end of it, "Is there anything Payroll can do in order to improve its service to you? Please be specific and leave your comments after the beep." After the beep, I said, "Yes, there is. I need a human being to call me in order to explain how all of this happened to me. Because of Payroll's mistakes, I am penalized for being honest." So far, nobody from Payroll has called me.

The mail came today and there was nothing in my mail slot. I suppose that on Monday or Tuesday a check will arrive in my mail slot. I will then have to drive to our local bank deposit the check, wait for it to clear and only then will I have access to the funds.

Thankfully, I was not counting on this paycheck for my mortgage or car payment. Not everyone is that fortunate. I could have kept the extra $900 and said nothing. It would have taken GE Payroll a while to figure out what went wrong with this co-op's "local premium" pay. Instead, I did the right thing and reported the overpayment immediately. For my efforts, I am eventually penalized and inconvenienced. I will keep the readers of this blog informed as this develops.


Ken said...

Paul.... current theory and practice would support letting GE's payment go "unnoticed". However, in the current world we live in... GE would lay your body on hot coals once they figured it out. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Dave said...

This would have never happened on the USS JUNEAU LPD-10! For some reason the Navy always held it's Supply Corp Officers accountable...what a concept.
This experience may be just a training exercise on customer service and National Health Care. Watch your blood pressure!

Big Johnny said...

I'm sorry...but I just gotta chuckle. Amazing...