It’s not your job to talk to me about retirement!

I use to work as a Retirement Services Rep for a retirement management company. Basically, my job is to help establish a client’s 401K or other retirement account, help clients manage their salary deferrals (based on a percentage of their salary), manage their investment selections, and rollover any other retirement accounts.

I’ve had my fair share of crazy callers, it was mostly from people who didn’t like the fact that their company automatically set up or enrolled them in a retirement account. OR…at the beginning of the company’s fiscal year, the company’s account may automatically default anyone under the minimum to a minimum percentage.

After briefly talking/explaining to them exactly what a retirement account is, about 7 out of 10 times, they usually kept the account open and start saving. The other 3 did not want the account opened and they’d often enough get their money back if they call within X amount of days of starting with the company. For those that cannot close their accounts, we reset their deferrals back to 0…every year!

Now when it comes to salary deferrals, we set the expectation that it can 7-10 business for the change to reflect on their pay check. It takes time for our system to update their company’s HR and for their HR to update their payroll. It doesn’t happen overnight (rarely does). This one Karen, didn’t like the expectations one bit. Here’s how it went down:


Karen had called into the call center to stop her deferrals. The year prior, she had set it to 0, but her company automatically set employees to 5% at the beginning of the their fiscal year. She was suppose to call about a week to two weeks earlier, but she didn’t. The rep set her to 0 but set the expectations “it can take 7-10 business days for you check to catch up to the changes we made.” Karen was not happy with that response and said “it better not!”


Karen gets paid and 5% of her check is taken for her 401K.


Karen calls back to the call center to complain and I take her call.

Karen: I asked that my deferrals be set to 0, why did my paycheck get deducted?

Me: Ma’am, whenever you make a change on salary deferrals, it can take 7-10 business days. Our last rep informed you of that timeframe.

Karen: why does it take so long?

Me: Thats the expectation we set because we do not know when your company requests our system information and to make any payroll changes.

Karen: How is that information sent to HR?

Me: That I am not sure, but thats why we say 7-10 business days or 1 to 2 pay cycles. We made it very clear when you called on Monday that it can take that long.

Karen: Again, how does HR know? Is it an email? Is it a phone call? Do you send smoke signals? Tell me how?

Me: I’m not really sure how your HR is informed, but they are informed.

Karen: It doesn’t matter, that money should not have been taken out. I want it back.

Me: Well ma’am, since the account has been open for over 2 years, we cannot refund you that money. You can only get that money when you either leave or retire from your company.

Karen: THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE! YOU STOLE MY MONEY! I made the change to 0 and by you taking that money…no…that is out of bounds.

Me: Well ma’am, its just a small percentage of funds that is being put away for your retirement.

Karen: Listen…you need to refund me my money, and its not your job to talk to me about fucking retirement!

Me: (thinking…actually it is bitch!). Ma’am, I am a retirement service rep for the company…

Karen: Look, stop talking to me! Get me your manager! You have no right to take my money when I made the change to 0.

So I transferred her to our escalation team. We weren’t suppose to stay on the call…but I did. No matter how much we tried explaining to Karen that it takes 7-10 business days, she just didn’t get it! Escalations had to send an email to her company to have her HR and her supervisor to explain it to her.

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