The older I get, the more gratitude and feelings of pleasant surprise I feel for companies who get things right when dealing with a customer. On the flip side, the older I get, the less patience I have for really crappy companies with poor (or non-existent) customer service. [Insert angry white man graphic here]

You know the kind of frustrating company I’m referencing. The one you can call five different times and get five different “answers” and still not get a resolution to whatever issue you may be encountering.

Recently, I needed to consolidate previous employer retirement accounts split across TIAA-CREF and McCready and Keene, Inc. (a OneAmerica company) into a single account for ease of management and for more investment choices. I already had one extremely bad experience with OneAmerica many years before so I wasn’t hopeful for a pleasant experience this go around. OneAmerica didn’t surprise. TIAA-CREF did surprise and hit a home run.

For those of you out there in a position to choose a retirement company for your employees, consider the following.


Contacted OneAmerica to close account. Agent said I would be assessed a fee for closing the account and would receive forms within 2-3 days.

Received a convoluted withdrawal form. Filled it in and sent it back along with a message containing detailed instructions of all possible ways the receiving firm would accept funds. Just to be sure…. No confirmation received.

Not having received ANY communication from OneAmerica regarding the status of my withdrawal (not even a confirmation email they received the form), I called their support center. The agent stated they didn’t know where in the process my request was but requests are usually handled in 5 to 7 business days. Despite pressing for details the agent could not provide any sort of timeline.

Still not having heard anything, I decided to log into my OneAmerica (McCready and Keene) online account to check. My balance was zero so at this point I can only guess that my funds are on their way.

Fast forward to the end of the week and I still have not received even one communication from OneAmerica regarding the status of my account. No detailed statement. Nothing. As I check my destination firm’s account, I notice a balance change. I had to look through the account transaction history to find out how much had been transferred from OneAmerica.


Contacted TIAA-CREF to close account. Agent had me the partially filled form within an hour. Would have been sooner but they had some technical difficulty. Sent back the form that evening and received confirmation of receipt.

Received detailed email notification that my request was received, funds had been withdrawn and were on the way to the destination firm.

Funds from TIAA-CREF already in my destination account.


As of today (March 1st), I still haven’t received any communication from OneAmerica, McCready and Keene, or even my plan administrator (previous employer) regarding the close out of the account. At this point, I can only guess the fee I had to pay to close my account was used buy J. Scott Davison or Joe Ferrella a new pair of sneakers. It sure as hell wasn’t put toward expediting the withdrawal or for printing and postage.

Now flip the coin and look at how good TIAA-CREF did with customer service for a client who was leaving. Here are just a few.

  • Provided very detailed information in a timely fashion.
  • Spent time trying to find out why I was closing my account.
  • Took a moment to explain the overall process and inform the customer of any potential penalties from the IRS.
  • Sent communications both electronically and via the postal system.

TIAA-CREF even made a follow up phone call well after the transfer was done to confirm I didn’t have any issues or questions. That was impressive. Please keep up the good work TIAA-CREF.

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Oh and while I doubt anyone who is in a position to make changes within OneAmerica cares, here is their expected reply concerning the above experience:

Dear [Customer Name],

Thank you for your recent comments regarding [insert service here]. Rest assured [insert company name] makes every effort to [insert some reference to performance and outstanding customer service].

We would be [insert adjective] to [insert some feigning attempt to help].


[Some guy who has a masters in finance and is now writing apology letters]