Post of the Day
May 13, 1999
Discount Brokers Folder
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Subject: Suretrade comments from a rookie
My Experience with Suretrade (a play in four acts)
Act I "What Kind of Fool Am I?"
I thought my cash was motoring along until I reluctantly analyzed and admitted that my savings account and 401k were in a serious idle. With sputters and occasional backfire. But I'm no mechanic, and a closet 'fraidy-cat of stocks. But I muster an ounce of courage and decide to get passionately wild and move 401k investments from my conservative mutual funds to something called the High Risk Large Cap-Gun Growth & Fungus that invests heavily in, well, could be George Michael for all I know (who has time to prospect through a prospectus?).
But I pause. Real dramatic. If I had a cup, it would have dropped from my hand and shattered. Unfortunately, I was holding the pet hamster.
|"If I had a cup, it would have dropped from my hand and shattered. Unfortunately, I was holding the pet hamster."|
I decide to learn more. I read Peter Lynch years ago. Seems like a nice guy. I talked to a bunch of stock-jockey office mates who blustered about the market like they do about politics (too many sex jokes). I studied Dean Witter and concluded "Witter" would be a good name for a golden retriever.
Finally, I bought The Motley Fool Investment Workbook, and I was sold. "Now or never," I proclaimed defiantly to no one in particular except the dead hamster.
Act II "Barking Up Every Tree"
Due to some dandy tax deductions, the feds honored me with a hefty refund that allowed me to pay off some short-term debt. I also had money to play with in the savings account. So after I played with it, it was time to convince my wife that I - no, we - must become Fools. Remarkably, she agreed (after three rum & cokes and promised extended foreplay while she watched "ER").
I investigated discount brokers using the Motley Fool website message boards, various reviews on the web, calling brokers up and talking to them directly, asking for info and seeing how fast they sent it, playing on their web site, and calling Dean Witter and saying "woof."
After a few weeks, I decided on Suretrade because Datek sounds like insect control. Kidding. Sort of.
Act III "Suretrade�or Maybetrade?"
I wrote the check. Dropped it in the mail. Then I remembered I was supposed to put it in an envelope. Anyway, it went out on a Thursday morning. By 8 a.m. the following Tuesday, I checked my balance on-line with Suretrade and OhMyGodItWasThere! I was expecting to wait two, maybe three years based on the horror stories I read on the web. So far, so good, still sober.
I went to trade. I double-checked my Foolish Four calculations. I validated my account balance again. I made sure my socks matched.
|"I bought. Sending off an order felt like the first time I ever entered the web. Or a chat room. Or the ballet. 'What the bejeezus is going on here?'"|
I bought. Sending off an order felt like the first time I ever entered the web. Or a chat room. Or the ballet. "What the bejeezus is going on here?"
The web site was slow and clunky. On two of my orders, transmissions stopped mid-delivery. I had to check to make sure they didn't get through, and re-submit. I don't know if it was due to heavy traffic, the server I was on, or the coffee I spilled on the keyboard last week.
I was about to log off when I saw this message exclaiming that my even if funds show up as a balance, you can't use them for five days. What void have I entered?!? What will become of my money?!? I pictured Mr. Suretrade booking a flight for Vegas with my cashed check in hand.
Act IV "The Crying Game, But Without the Cross-Dressing. Honest."
I panicked. My socks didn't match after all. I found the Suretrade customer service number on their site and called to find out which level of hell I was on. The taped message told me it would be a five-minute wait. That was hopeful. It was probably more like ten, but that's OK, I soon had a human assigned to me. "Hello, human," I began. Then I wept.
Within thirty seconds they assured me that my funds cleared and my orders were placed (since these were "blue-chips," they allowed for quick fund approval). I expressed my gratitude, wiped away the tears, and hung up, realizing that�
�I am Dean Witter! Here me roar! Woof!
In summary - Suretrade provided�.
�rapid deposit of funds (five days, including a weekend! Whoosh!)
�a donkey of a website for mobility and response on my first few attempts
�one satisfying contact with customer rep (10-minute wait)