At the end of the year, I will be ceasing my investment in TIAA-Cref funds for retirement. There are less expensive options at Vanguard, and TIAA-Cref’s customer service record has been spotty. I haven’t had any problems lately, but other people still face difficulties.
My original post about my problems with TIAA-Cref from almost two years ago still receives occasional comments. Here’s the latest comment, from Ed, with his experience.
After two months of wrangling with TIAA-CREF [to cash out], I was finally able to get a portion of my money. When I called to get the rest, the company told me that they had made a mistake and that it would be 12-15 business days before they could send out the rest of the funds. I knew from my previous interaction with them that they have a system in place to “walk through” payment requests and to get them processed in 3-5 business days. I pushed for the 3-5 day process.
To make a long story short, I told the customer service phone rep to send a message to his supervisor informing him that as soon as I hung up the phone I was going to follow up with the SEC regarding the complaint I filed against TIAA-CREF (I gave them the name of the staff attorney and the file number for my complaint).
You can file a complaint against TIAA-CREF with the SEC here.
The outcome was that the balance of my money was in my checking account in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, it was seemingly impossible to get anyone at the company to do anything that would help me or resolve my case. But after mentioning the SEC, I received at least two calls from TIAA-CREF employees following up — finally — on my case letting me know how sorry they were.
Ed’s success came from filing a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and making sure the customer service representatives were aware of the full complaint information. This escalated his case, and he was able to get some results.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published December 11, 2007.