Complaint Category: Inappropriate behavior by customer service personnel
Complaint: Failure to disclose fees during a call w/customer service on change to 401K investment & inability to get Thrivent to pull tape recording to prove it
Called customer service asking for money market fund to move my 401K investment to stop losses in value. They walked me thru the account and paperwork to complete the change and never disclosed that they were going to charge me enormous fees to provide insurance that my money would not decrease more than 2/3rds of irs then current value and never told me about the fees or insurance. I didn't realize they were charging the fees until 3 years later and have asked sales, sales management, and customer service repeatedly since 2011 to pull the tapes to prove my claim to no avail. Sales at times have agreed to pull the tapes with no follow thru back to me which I would learn when I followed up that they had left the company and no one was pulling the tapes. They have them in their archives but have so far refused to pull them so I can prove my claim and force them to give me the money they stole from me.
Business' Initial Response
This letter is in response to the complaint received in your office on September 14, 2012, from Mauricia Molnar regarding her Thrivent Life Insurance Company variable annuity. It is my understanding you recently became aware that complaints sent to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans were not being received by Member Relations and that this addressing issue has since been resolved. We apologize for not responding to your initial inquiry from September 2012.
Ms. Molnar is the sole owner of an IRA variable annuity issued on August 23, 1991. Ms. Molnar contacted Thrivent Financial, requesting we review phone calls placed to our customer interaction center, claiming she was not provided sufficient information about a change involving her variable annuity, and she has asked to have her account value restored. Multiple letters were sent to Ms. Molnar explaining that she completed a form to move the funds to the Money Market Subaccount, and therefore, we were denying her request. Ms. Molnar was offered the opportunity to appeal the decision to our Member Dispute Resolution Program (MDRP). Thrivent Financial's MDRP is a multistep process available to customers to pursue resolution of their disputes. Ms. Molnar has not requested an appeal of our decision.
While it is unfortunate the phone call Ms. Molnar referenced is no longer available, having been beyond our 3
year retention period, the subaccount transfer processed on October 8, 2008, was processed as a result of a written authorization directing the change, not a phone call. The form Ms. Molnar completed listed all the subaccounts available within her contract, and the prospectus, which is sent to her every year since her contract was issued, provides information regarding the fees, expenses and risk of each subaccounts available.
Thrivent Financial has attempted to Work with Ms. Molnar to transfer her money to another product or to the Fixed Account Within the variable annuity where it would yield a minimum of 4% interest and not be subject to market fluctuation. She has not contacted Thrivent Financial to initiate any of these changes.
To assist in your review of this complaint, Thrivent Financial is providing copies of the following documentation:
. Email from Ms. Molnar dated September 14, 2012 (exhibit A); _
Letter dated September 27, 2012, and attachments sent to Ms. Molnar (exhibit B); Email from Ms. Molnar dated February 28, 2013 (exhibit C); Letter dated March 8, 2013, and attachments sent to Ms. Molnar (exhibit D); Email from Ms. Molnar dated March 25, 2013(exhibit E);
Letter to Ms. Molnar dated April 1, 2013 (exhibit F); and
Letter to Ms. Molnar dated May 14, 2013 (exhibit G).
If you need additional information, please contact me at 800-847-4836; say "directory" and enter extension 6284595. You may also contact me via e-rnail
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Thrivent has again lied. When I originally contacted their local team assigned to handle my account, it was within the three years. The team told me several months after my original request that the phone records were now in archives (even though they weren't when I first discussed the issue with them and it was difficult to get the company to pull them once they went to storage. The issue is not that they simply didn't give me sufficient information on the change to my account but rather that I told them that I was tired of the value of my account dropping like a brick and did they have a money market account where I could move my money so that the value of my account would not continue to drop until I felt comfortable to put it back in the market. They said they did, told me which one offering they had, and because I did not understand their paperwork, on that same call, they walked me thru filling out that paperwork which I faxed over to them within a few days (week tops) of that date. At no time did their 800# staff tell me that my value would continue to drop significantly because they were going to charge me huge fees because they were using an annuity money market (when they had a money market that was not an annuity) that would charge me large fees every quarter to manage nothing. When I learned what they had done to me which was a long time after this trade occured, they said that I got the benefit of insurance that guaranteed that the value of my money market account would never fall below my original value when I first invested the money with them. The original they were speaking of occured in 1991 when I first invested with them and the value at that time was 1/3rd of its value when I was doing this money market trade which meant I was paying huge fees to them to basically provided a valueless insurance. I never asked for that insurance and they never told me about any of this until I realized the fees they were charging me without disclosing those fees or what those fees provided.
They have refused to pull the telephone records all along because they know that they will have to return the money they stole from me if they do. The telephone records (according to multiple Thrivent employees) exist but have simply been archived.
They are a company that is riddled with account teams that are suppose to handle customers' needs whose only concerns are to new investment dollars and their own personal commissions. I say this because in my first meeting with the account team which was within the 3 years, I dealt with my irritation over my money they had helped themselves to for doing absolutely nothing but insuring my value in a money market wouldn't drop by more than 2/3rd's and they should have requested the telephone records at that time and then it would have been within 3 years, and yes I told them I had dealt with the 800# folks to do the change along with all the details of what had been discussed, and not discussed, in that conversation. The 800 customer service staff is either incompetant or dishonest which I like to assume incompetant.
This is a company that used to be Lutheran Brotherhood and back then was a good company to do business with but since they became Thrivent, they have obviously gone downhill fast to the point of having no view to customer service and their ethics are terrible. Their own account team guy told me they have a high turnover rate and that even they have a hard time getting their customer service department to do what needs to be done for customers. Within 6 months of their first contact with me, the account rep had left the company. I have plead my case to numerous people in their company verbally and in writing. When their customer service team sends me a reply, it takes a long time to receive it and it ignores the facts laid out in my explanation of what occured.
I think the most significant testament to their regard for their customers is the fact that it took them 9 months to reply to a customer's Better Business Bureau complaint because they simply have such little regard for customer issues.
It is sad to know how far they have fallen over the years in terms of serving their customers in an honest and ethical manner. They will never get my investment business again.
Business' Final Response
Dear Ms. Wallace:
This letter is in response to Ms. Mauricia Molnar's Complaint regarding her Thrivent Life Insurance Company Variable annuity contract.
As indicated in my previous response to the BBB dated May 24, 2013, Thrivent has responded to Ms. Molnars concerns advising that the call she indicated took place sometime prior to a subaccount transfer that Was processed on October 8, 2008, is not available. Thrivent retains calls for a period of 3 years after which time they are deleted; they are not archived as Ms. Molnar contends. When our office Was contacted regarding Ms. Molnar's request to review a call she placed sometime prior to October 8, 2008, the 3-year retention period had already expired and the call Was no longer available.
While it is unfortunate the phone call Ms. Molnar referenced is no longer available, as previously communicated, the subaccount transfer processed on October 8, 2008, Was done as a result of a Written request signed by Ms. Molnar. Within her Variable annuity contract, Ms. Molnar has the opportunity to invest in a Variety of stock- and bond-based subaccounts and a fixed account. Information regarding the fees, expenses and risk of the subaccounts is disclosed in the prospectus she is sent every year. The form Ms. Molnar completed clearly indicated this Was a transfer being done Within her Variable annuity contract, not to a new mutual fund money market account as she contends. Because the stock- and bond-based subaccounts Within the Variable annuity are market based, the accumulated Value Within the contract is subject to change on a daily basis. Ms. Molnar, when she purchased the variableannuity, acknowledged she understood the Accumulated Value may increase or decrease daily based on the investment experience of the Variable account, as referenced on the Application for Variable Annuity (copy enclosed).
We are sorry Ms. Molnar has such a negative opinion of Thrivent. We have attempted to Work With her to resolve her concerns. Thrivent has offered her the opportunity to appeal the decision through our Member Dispute Resolution Program as a means to bring closure to this matter. Thrivent's Member Dispute Resolution Program is a multi-step program available to our members to pursue resolution of their disputes. It includes Appeal, Mediation, and Binding Arbitration. The program is
Thrivent Life insurance Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
designed to provide a fair, timely and efficient reVieW of their complaints. It is not mandatory for Ms. Molnar's product, but it is available should she choose to utilize it. At this time, she has not requested an appeal of our decision. I am including a brochure about Thrivent's Member Dispute Resolution Program for your review.
If you need additional information, please Contact Ine at SOO-8474836; say directory and enter extension 6284595. You may also Contact me Via e-mail at kelly,email@example.com
Complaint Resolution: Company resolved the complaint issues. The consumer acknowledged acceptance to BBB.