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On Zecco’s Poor Customer Service

Smart Money named Zecco the worst in customer service in their 2008 Smart Money Best Broker Survey [3] and many of the comments on my Is Zecco A Scam? post [4] seem to echo the experiences of Smart Money’s reviewers. If you read the comments, they range from “Eh, you get what you pay for, it’s not bad.” to “Zecco sucks and Zecco is only for non-serious amateur traders arguing over couple of bucks here and there.” (Lee [5])

I said I’d fund my account there but I never did. One reason was because I was confused by the two separate logins, one for the community and one for my brokerage account. Then, the comments about the poor customer service starting rolling in and Zecco changed from free trades to 10 free trades if you had over $2,500 in your account, so I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. The reality is that I opened a high yield savings account and brokerage at E*Trade [6] ($9.99/trade) and then a TradeKing [7] account ($4.95/trade) to write a review of TradeKing [8]. With two brokerage accounts plus my retirement accounts, I figured another one with reported bad customer service wasn’t worth it (especially if I’m trying to simplify my personal finances [9]! I’m going the wrong way!).

In truth, I think that people expect too much from Zecco. While the change in free trades to 10 free trades with a minimum balance was a bit “bait and switch”-y, you’re still getting ten free trades worth at least $50 a month (assuming 10 trades at $4.95 each at competitor TradeKing). But the maxim of “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If you want better customer service, pay the $4.95 a trade (or more); if you don’t care about customer service, then Zecco might be right for you.

On the other hand, should you be trading ten times a month? Most people shouldn’t be trading ten times a month, so your actual total benefit isn’t $50 a month, it’s less. In fact, I haven’t made a stock trade in several months (not that I’m the poster child for a disciplined investor). If you’re more a mutual fund type, you can trade those for free if you open an account at that brokerage. At Vanguard, you can invest in many of their no-load funds without any transaction costs whatsoever. Free trades at Vanguard!

So your trade-off of poor customer service is for a couple of trades a year, which is not worth it in my opinion. And that’s why I never funded my account.