Running the Zecco Gauntlet


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March 14
Yes, after everything I’ve already chronicled, I’m still cheap enough to open another account. Well, part of me is that cheap. The other part of me is just curious whether my second run through will be just as grueling. This time I decide to open a Roth IRA account for my wife.

I filled out the online form for my wife. In general, it’s still fairly similar to the form I had filled out a couple months earlier. This time, I see a large link at the end of the process for me to print off my application paperwork. I’ve learned my lesson. This time I print two copies. One to keep on file and one to send into Zecco.

March 15
Could this be!? Her account is approved. No printing and mailing necessary. No emails or phone calls to customer service. It’s done and done. I log into her myZecco account and her trading key box gleams in the top-right corner.

March 24
Due to my busy schedule, I didn’t really do anything with the account for a while, but now it’s time to get going. I log into her trading account and start the bank account verification process.

March 25
I’ve received the two small deposits into our bank account. I go back to my wife’s trading account to complete the verification process. What do you know! They’ve changed the crap ACH relationship screen to a new, nicely-designed page! But with my luck, my bank account (ACH relationship) is not listed on the newly-designed interface. I figure, well, rather than messing with customer service, I’ll just set up a new one. But no, I get this error: “Your request has already been initiated. Please check back again later.”

March 26
I call customer service about the missing ACH relationship. The service rep mentioned that others had called in with the same problem and that it had to do with the change to the new interface. What’s the solution? Snail-mail in a funds transfer form and a check. Nuh-uh. Not today sir. Not only had I reached a peak of frustration, but with my history I knew that sending something through the mail to Zecco would likely make the deposit too late to qualify for the 2007 tax year. Rather than get all hot and bothered I thought I’d let it go for a while. I crossed my fingers and waited.

Just a few hours later, I received an email “from the CEO” of Zecco notifying all customers of the interface change:

Dear Investor,

Great news! Thanks to the valuable feedback from many of our customers, we completely redesigned our electronic money movement (ACH) system. Now you can easily move money between your bank and Zecco Trading at no cost! And setting up the connection to your bank is now easy and intuitive.

Hmm…would he actually send an email with so many outstanding issues? Could it be? I logged into my wife’s account and the ACH relationship was back! I finished the bank verification process and initiated the funds transfer.

March 27
My wife’s account has been funded and we’re ready to go. To Zecco’s credit, the service rep I had talked to the day before gave me a courtesy call to notify me that my account had been fixed. This was quite unexpected and much appreciated.

Post-sign-up experience and lessons learned

The sign-up process aside, my Zecco experience has, in fact, been quite stellar! Free trades? Yes sir–just how I like them. I can’t image paying $5+/trade anymore. Sure, the resources may not be as beefy as E-trade or TD Ameritrade, but having been a customer of both of those brokerages as well, I know I personally don’t use them anyway. Give me Google and I can find my way from there as far as research goes. The Zecco trading screen is straightforward and all I need for my trading purposes. My general Zecco use is to log in, maybe get some real-time quotes, make a trade or two, at times modify or cancel a trade, and then I’m done. That’s all I really want and it works great for such a purpose.

It hasn’t been all peaches though. A couple times the website has been unavailable. In particular, I can say that on April 14 I received the error “The site is currently down for scheduled upgrades.” This was during trading hours. Shortly thereafter it changed to “Service Unavailable.” The site may have been down one or two times other than that, but nothing too crazy. The customer service, as already described, has much left to be desired. However, I do believe it’s improving and you can’t complain too much when the trades are free.

So, are you ready to run the Zecco gauntlet? That all depends on your patience and how much you value free trades. If you decide to run it, print off everything and give yourself plenty of sign-up time. You’ll find better support over the phone as the 24-hour email support isn’t so 24-hour at times and it usually takes a couple rounds before getting an adequate answer. When calling customer service, press 2-2-2-1-1-1 with a few seconds between. Hang up, and within a few minutes a customer service rep will call you. I should have been doing this the whole time.

Have you had a Zecco experience? Please…join the intimate conversation!

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05.26.2008 / Tony Leach said:

Aaron –

Wow, what a great blow-by-blow of your experience getting started with Zecco! I’ll be passing this around the office a bit, if you don’t mind.

One question – in the midst of all this, did you get a chance to check out the ZeccoShare community? What did you think?

– Tony Leach (Zecco Product Manager)

05.26.2008 / Aaron Hardy said:

Hey Tony! Am I glad to hear from you! And in under 24 hours from my post I might add. That’s faster than half the customer service emails I received! Even the existence of your response warrants a tip of the hat. I would be more than honored if you would pass my experience around the office. I understand the company is in a growing stage and could use a customer’s perspective every now and then.

In response to your question, I have taken a look at ZeccoShare and also have my account sharing turned on. At times I peek at what others are holding and discussing, but I spend most of my time analyzing charts. I really like the idea of social investment networking though and believe many people will find it beneficial. If I get more time I may become more involved myself.

If you would like feedback on specific areas of improvement, I personally believe the forum moderators at times block more posts than the legal requirements dictate. It seems Zecco sometimes tries to cover its reputation rather than just leaving opinions public and learning from them. This may be improving though as I haven’t read the forums for a couple months now. Overall, I applaud Zecco’s effort at making investing more interactive and interesting for its investors.

Again, thank you for responding to my post. It’s much appreciated and blog readers do notice that you care enough to seek out and pay attention to customer feedback. I look forward to an excellent Zecco experience!

05.28.2008 / Tony Leach said:

Aaron – great to hear! Definitely hear you about the time thing…

We are re-crafting our moderation approach, so sorry if we’ve seemed a little over-zealous at some points. We’ll make sure to take your points into consideration as we do that!

– Tony

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