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At My Bank, NSF = Non-Sufficient Friendliness - Comments

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The Compass Bank story about the 10 cent overdraft, plus $122 in fees reminded me of my banking story... (That seems to be a running theme in this thread.)

However, this one ends just the opposite.

We had our business checking account with Citibank. Apparently, Citibank only wants "big business" accounts, as our small business was nickeled and dimed all over the place. (They actually charged us for making deposits!)

Anyway, the clincher was when we opened a "custodial account" for our newborn son. Such an account was supposed to be free of any fees. Yet, every month, the statement came, and every month a $9 "service fee" was debited. And every month, my wife went down to the branch to yet again have the charge reversed. (They refused to do this over the phone.)

After repeating the above scenario one too many times, we decided to close all of our accounts and move them elsewhere. (To a small local bank. Yes, there's a $10 monthly "service fee" on the business checking account, but there were no other fees, and the $10 never changed from month to month, unlike the fees that Citibank was charging.)

The next month, we get the statement from Citibank, showing a (positive) 10 cent balance on the closed custodial account. How does one have money in a closed account? Apparently, the bank automatically reopened the account when the defered interest on the account needed to go somewhere.

Having been fed up with the problem we had with the bank, my wife decided to simply let it be, and not go through the hassle of closing the account again.

So, for the next six months or so, the bank diligently spent 32 cents postage (plus whatever processing cost them) to send us a statement telling us that we had 10 cents in the account. Of course, they had finally fixed the problem of charging us the monthly fee.

We eventually re-closed the account.

I have an account at a local credit union, but when I'm given a check on a local bank I usually cash it, Where's George the bills [see www.wheresgeorge.com], and either deposit those or spend them. Dealing with US Bank, headquartered here in Milwaukee, is a challenge.

If I go anywhere other than the downtown branch, in the lobby of their HQ, neither my state-issued work ID nor my Federally-issued ID (Dep't of Homeland Security) is accepted -- they insist on the much easier to obtain and forge state driver's license. Then they want to charge me $5 for the priviledge of honoring their payment obligations.

Going to the downtown location, I hand over the Federal ID and get my money, easy as that, and no fee. Only difficulty is the parking.

I've actually written to US Bank, but no reply yet (it hasn't been long).

Bernard, you say one of the few times you go into the branch is to deposit the contents of your spare change tin. Are you experiencing the same problem down there as we have here, that the banks want to charge you to take change?

That was one of the bad experiences I had at Washington Mutual. I took all of our spare change, went to the trouble of counting it and putting it in sleeves (my grandfather used to work at a bank, so I knew this would be expected), took to the bank, and was told there would be something like a 20% charge to accept it. I wonder if you bring in large amounts of cash money if they tell you the same thing... I told them that was ridiculous, and took my change and left. We ended up using the sleeved change at the post office and fast food drive thrus. We were running several errands the day we tried to deposit the change at the bank, and the next stop was at the post office next door. Before offering it as payment, we asked the clerk "is it ok if we pay in wrapped change?" and he said "It's money isn't it?"

Yeah, that's what I thought before I went to the bank.

As for checks, we personally have most of our bills paid online, direct from the account. I never use a check at a retail establishment, just credit or ATM. About the only check I write for personal reasons is to pay my credit card.

Most businesses we work with prefer to use credit card as well, for the convenience, but some prefer the float of using a check.

I have two bank stories, both suggested by posts here.

One person above talked about how good B of A's customer service is. I had a very different experience. Granted, it was many years ago. Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles my brother, who lived in Northern California at the time, sent me some money he owed me. He sent it on a Bank of America cashier's check. I didn't yet have an account in LA, so I went to a B of A to cash it. I was told by the teller that, because I didn't have an account there, they would be unable to help me. I said, "This is a cashier's check. Isn't that sort of the same as money?" Yes, but since I didn't have an account there, they wouldn't be able to help me.

"This cashier's check, which is the same as money, is a Bank of America cashier's check, yes?" Yes, but... I left, went to a United Bank of California (which has since been bought out by First Interstate, which was bought out by Wells Fargo, a whole other issue...), opened an account and they cashed the check then and there. (A few years later, I told that story to the mother of a good friend of mine who worked for B of A. She personally apologized and said her job was turning that corporate culture around. From what I see here, It seems to have worked.)

The second story concerns Washington Mutual. I really love the WaMu commercials. They make me laugh, because I've never heard a good report of WaMu customer service. My writing partner and I were opening a new business. We had already gotten our DBA, were in the process of incorporating and were looking for office space. We knew we wouldn't be able to get the office space until we had a business checking account. I spent several hours calling different banks to do research, telling them our situation and finding out the different fees, services, etc. After talking to a nice man at the local branch of WaMu, we decided to go there. (Like an idiot, I did not get his name.)

We took an afternoon off work and went down to the bank to open the account. We were filling out all the paperwork when the lady who was helping us asked our business address. When I told her we didn't have one, yet, only a P.O. box and my home address, she said, "Oh, we can't open a business account unless you have an actual address." I told her I had talked to someone at that branch explaining we didn't have an address and they said no problem. No, sorry. We said we couldn't get an office until we had a checking account. She called the manager over. We explained again that we couldn't get the office without the account, and mentioned that we had talked to someone in the branch and their fellow had had all the right answers and that we were taking time off work to come down because their bank had seemed the best. He said, and I quote, "well, we don't have any men in our new accounts department, so you obviously didn't talk to anyone here." He actually turned up his nose, like we had an offensive odor or something, I kid you not.

Steve and I looked at each other, thanked the man, walked across the street and opened an account at US Bank.

It seems to me like the service you get at any bank, any branch, depends on the manager and the example they set for the employees. The only person I've heard about who got great service every time she went to the bank was my great aunt, who had about a million dollars on deposit. Red carpet service every time.

Anyway, my story probably won't get as much sympathy as others here, but it's an annoying thing that people should also be aware of.

In addition to delaying deposits whenever they can get away with it, banks will also make withdrawals to your account in order from largest to smallest.

I had about $100 in my checking account one day. I checked the balance in the morning online, but I'd forgotten about a $90 check I'd written the week before. I went about my errands, spending $15, $8, and $5.

Instead of taking the three smaller amounts out and charging me for a single overdraft, they take the larger amount out and charge me three overdrafts, totalling $99.

No amount of complaining to the bank manager got me any results. She said "that's the way our customers want it". Yeah right! I could understand it if they were going to bounce the check otherwise, but they weren't going to bounce a check that small. I can think of no other reason why anybody would want the system set up that way.

Anyway, I watch my checks much more closely now, but I don't think switching to another bank is going to help anybody, since every bank seems pretty much the same.

Wow. Reading all of these horror stories only reaffirms my commitment to my local credit union. There are virtually no fees, other than the ATM. If I have an overdraft on my checking account, provided there is money in my savings account, they automatically transfer the money from savings to checking to cover the funds and charge me a mere $2 transfer fee.

The only major trouble I ever had with them was after tax season in 2004. I had decided to try direct depositing my refund. I filled out my taxes and sent them in. A few montsh later, my little sister calls me and asks if I know anything about a rather large deposit in her account. Sure enough, my tax refund had been deposited into her account. My entire family has been banking at this credit union for over 40 years now so there are several accounts with the same last name. However, with something as crucial as a tax refund, if the name, account number and SSN do not match, wouldn't that send up a red flag? Fortunately, one quick phone call to the bank and the money was moved over to my account. After reading all of these other banking stories, I get the feeling I might never have gotten my money back had I been banking elsewhere.

How about a bank that won't even change a $20 unless you have an account with them?

I can see where a bank would require an active account to cash a check (even a cashier's check), as that makes it easier to trace you if the check bounces. But cash?

After my parents retired from their reqular jobs, they picked up their hobbies and spent time at craft shows and fairs selling their products. I was off work at the time and joined them. We were at a big fair near Ann Arbor, Michigan one year and we were low on small change. I went to the nearest bank and was told flat out that they wouldn't make change unless you had an account with them. I was floored, I had never heard of anyone doing that before.

I wandered around several blocks and couldn't find another bank so I settled for the nearest McDonald's, but they could only spare $10 in change. I had to beg every passerby at the fair to get enough change to make it through the weekend.

I wonder to this day (14 years later) if that bank is still open.

Banks always cater to the rich. The more money you have the better you are treated. I had several accounts at Wachovia Bank (Walk All Over Ya) and received a NSF letter stating that I had been charged $36 for each of 14 checks, a total of $504. Problem was, I hadn't written any checks and hadn't made a withdraw in over 5 years. And according to my last statement had about $600K in the bank.

So, I went to the the local branch, where I am well known and sat down. The Customer Service lady (who did not know me) called me over and I showed her the letter and asked her to explain how this could happen.

I already knew the problem was they had assigned the wrong account number to a person with the same last name as mine thus causing a cross in accounts. Since this person didn't manage his account and bounced checks on a regular basis. The letter was supposed to go to him and not me.

Well, I was read the riot act, on how I was just not managing my account and had to learn that I could not write checks when I didn't have funds, etc, etc.

At this point, I felt my blood pressure rising, so I asked the Customer Service Rep to confirm the account she was looking at was indeed mine.

"I know my job" was the reply. "You have to make a deposit today or we'll be adding $36 per day in overdraft charges until the account is brought into the black."

I said, "Excuse me, I'll be right back." So, I headed home. Checked my online balances which confirmed that my account was just fine and no transactions had been posted to it.

Now, here's the good part! I then went back to the bank, the manager was there this time and I was immediatley given the usual treatment of "Good Morning!" How can I help you today? I handed the manager a list of 9 different accounts and told her that I was closing them all and wanted a Cashier's Check -- as I had another bank waiting for the funds.

"Why would you do that? You've been with us for over 20 years! I pointed to the Customer Service Rep and said, because that young lady right there just treated me like a piece of trash and I refuse to do business with a Bank that treats its customers that way! You could see the girl turning white when she realized her error!

I left the bank with my $600K cashiers check -- showed it to the girl and said This bank will never see my face again!

I'm not sure if they fired her or not, but I do know that she's no longer at that Branch. I have been with Bank of America since, and haven't had one single problem!

I've heard a lot of horror stories with banks, and I just have to say that I like the bank I'm with very much.

If you have insufficient funds in your account, they will bounce a check; however, if you tell them that you're going to be making a deposit shortly, they will pay the item. I would guess that you have to make a deposit within ten days and there would be an amount limitation, but I haven't run into those problems.

Also, there was a miscommunciation at the bank one time, and they bounced an IRS payment that came in. Well, when I told them about it, they immediately turned around and forced a pay on it so it was no longer bounced.

My bank also has an overdraft protection where they transfer money from your savings to cover overdrafts, and they don't ding you at all.

For those of you who have problems with your current bank, there's going to be a bank out there that will be a good one to do business with. You just got to find it.

I have one for you from Bank of America, just after they bought my bank, Nations Bank.

I deposited a check from America Funds into one of my three accounts at the bank. I had sold mutual funds. The cashiers check was from America Funds (one of the largest fund companies in the world) for $10,000 and I needed $7,000 of that money the next day. That was why I had sold the funds. Like you, this was not a new transaction for me. It was, however, a larger transaction than I had done before.

They told me when I deposited it that it would take 10 days to clear. I told them that it would be in my account when it cleared, right? They said no, that the bank had the right to without the funds from an "over-$9999-transaction" for 10 days. I told them that no, they only had the right to hold the check for 10 days if it didn't clear, but only until it cleared.

I figured it was a moot point as the check was bound to clear quickly.

The next day the funds were still not in my account. I didn't have time to deal with the bank and arranged to make my $7,000 payment the next day.

It wasn't that big a deal. But then two days later the money was still not in my account. I made the time to go to the bank. They said it had not been 10 days and that new banking laws allowed the bank to keep the funds from that large a check for 10 days.

I asked if they were stupid enough to believe that meant that even once a check had cleared, they could keep a customer's money. They were that stupid.

Then they thought they saved themselves. The check had not cleared yet. Once the check had cleared, I could come back and argue the point once more.

I went to my office and called America Funds. The check had cleared almost immediately after I deposited it. Within hours.

I went back to the bank and told them the check cleared and give me my money. They insisted it had not. I finally demanded to speak to a manager. The manager agreed with the tellers that the check had not cleared and that the deposit could indeed be withheld for 10 days regardless.

After about a 30 minute diatribe on the fact that even as corporately corrupt as our government had become, they had not made it legal for the bank to (for all extents and purposes) steal my money for 10 days, he finally agreed that once the check cleared it would have to be deposited in my account. I told him that I had spoken with AF and it had cleared. He said it had not.

I told him America Funds does not have my money. And I don't have my money. Who has my money?

I had to call America Funds from right there in his office and make them tell him that the check had cleared two days ago!

He left the room and brought me a receipt for the $10,000 and with much prodding assured me that was "available" funds and not just a picture.

The money was immediately available and all it all worked out, but it really fried my taters at the time.

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