August 08, 2008

Stupid eTrade, Are You Trying to Bankrupt Me?

I've been a loyal eTrade customer since February of 2000, and during the height of their instabilities last fall, I actually went against the grain, moving my checking account to the service, away from Wells Fargo, and even flipping their stock a few times for short-term sales when many thought they were headed to zero. But that's not to say the relationship is perfect. Over the years, there have been occasional annoyances, and today, errors on their part make it look like I'm about to file for Chapter 11.

This morning, Rackspace went public, the first technology company to IPO in quite some time in what's been a quiet year. And while, so far, their debut hasn't been all that amazing, I did manage to get some shares through gaining early access via my eTrade account, a usual sign that the stock would be headed down and not up, given my spotty track record.

(See also: Top Eight Worst Stock Moves I Ever Made)

But the fact Rackspace hasn't gone through the roof isn't the issue. The bigger issue is that prior to 5 a.m. this morning, I not only received confirmation from eTrade that my bid was accepted, but I received confirmation six times in the space of two minutes. And checking in with my account online, eTrade, despite only allocating to me the shares I had requested, actually looks like it withdrew the total amount of the stock buy for each confirmation. This means that instead of being cash-positive in my brokerage account, I show a deficit of more than $36,000.

eTrade Confirmed I Received Shares. And Again. And Again!

While I tend to believe this will be sorted out without any intervention on my part, I'm sure that this "glitch" will impact my ability to make trades if I wanted to. Not only is the actual cash I believe I should have unavailable, but if I sold other stocks in the account, I wouldn't have that cash available for different trades, as it would undoubtedly look like it was being used to pay down my debt.

eTrade Tells Me I Owe Them Some Serious Dough

eTrade doesn't get to participate in IPOs all that often, and it looks like they haven't quite gotten the process down. I just hope I don't start getting notice after notice that my account is "on margin" or that I get locked out. It's happened before due to stupid clerical errors like this, and I'm not interested in playing that game again. So eTrade, please get your act together and give me my money back. Thanks!