One alarming thing about being an academic is that so much of one's retirement saving is in the hands of the mega-organization, TIAA-CREF. Perhaps I should be hiding dollars in my mattress instead of working with these guys. It's pretty scary to think that I or my children will need to rely on them some day.
What prompts this reflection is my experiences over the past sixteen months or so with respect to a couple of small TIAA CREF accounts wiith survivorship rights that my late father left to my brother and myself. After months of repeated effort - calling frequently upon the receipt of incoherent correspondence, having to do the same ministerial steps two, three, or four times in a row, and so forth - my brother has actually succeeded in having his share of both accounts transferred to his name. I am still only one for two.
Most recently, I got some correspondence that, among other steps,required me to travel to my bank for a signature guarantee, signed by a bank officer. Okay, I did it, forty-five minutes or so out of a busy day, and sent it in.
This weekend I got a letter back from TIAF CREF. Dear Mr. Shaviro, etcetera, etcetera. You will have to do this form again, because the signature guarantee wasn't filled out. Attached to it, a Xeroxed copy of my last submission. On page 2, someone has helpfully highlighted in orange the instructions for the signature guarantee. Right next to it is the actual signature guarantee itself, fully filled out, everything there, not a line missing, and no indication of what the problem is except that they apparently don't realize it's there, even though they wrote me the letter and took the trouble of highlighting the instructions in orange, right next to my fully filled out text.
What is with these people? Drugs? Drink? I'd like to know.
UPDATE: TIAA-CREF blames my bank. Didn't use the "medallion" insignia, you see.