My Bank of America Story

By Carlos Portocarrero

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So I’ve been a customer at Bank of America ever since I moved to the US for college (when it was called Fleet Boston) — that’s nine years running now. And honestly? When I heard the horror stories of banks (like this one) hammering their customers with all kinds of fees and stuff, I figured it was just people complaining after doing something stupid like taking out money they didn’t have or being late on a payment. Well, here is my story from last week:

A couple of weeks ago M and I got married and we got a big check. So I deposited in my account and kept track online to see when it would clear so I could shoot it over to our joint ING account. When it cleared, I initiated the transfer — excited that we would have this huge chunk of money earning 3% interest. Sweet, right? Well, then Friday (a couple of days later) hit. We got a letter in the mail from the bank saying that the money was on hold. Why? Turns out if you deposit anything over $5,000 the funds are automatically put on hold.

No one told me that.

So when ING tried to pull the money, it just wasn’t there. Seeing a negative balance (in red, mind you) in our bank account (in the thousands, mind you) was not pleasant for me. I was fuming — it stressed me out and there was nothing I could do until Monday. I swear to god, if the worst-case scenario were to happen (a fee), I was ready to take ALL my money out and close out my cards. But I called and it turns out BofA has someone available 24/7, which was great. I explained the situation and they told me the funds would be cleared at the end of the next week. “What about fees or stuff like that?” I asked. They told me to call back if that happened. Lo and behold, on Monday I was hit with an Insufficient Funds fee of $25. So I called and explained everything. After a minute they said “No problem” and that it would be taken off right away. Great! No worries. A few days later it still wasn’t credited. So I called back and had to explain everything all over again. I was fuming on the phone and I think the woman helping me could tell.

The thing that pisses me off is that they just try to wait you out. That’s their strategy. Since they’re banking on us (the customers) not staying on top of our stuff and calling and harassing them day after day, they just delay and make you work for it. If you do, they take care of you. After this second call they credited it right away, which is what had been done before, “supposedly.”

The lesson here? Banks are scammers but they have to follow the law. They can’t scam you outright, but they can play games with you and our responsibility is to fight back and fight back hard. They rely on these ticky-tack fees because they are a HUGE part of their profits. And they are raising those fees because to them it’s free money.

My tip to you: FIGHT BACK. As long as you have a valid argument (ie, if you bounced 15 checks last month then drop it) then pursue it over and over again until you get what’s fair. In my experience those who wait them out and persist eventually win.

10 Responses to “My Bank of America Story”

  • Hanks Weekly Hangouts #35 (June 22, 2008) | My Investing Blog Says:

    […] TheWritersCoin chimes in about his Bank of America Story. Banks are a business too, and they want your money as much as you […]

  • Mrs. Micah Says:

    Banks, credit card companies, etc, make a lot of their money from our laziness. It’s easier to give up $25 “painlessly” (because for most people that’s not a make-or-break number) than to actually do something. I think your advice is spot on.

    I know I’m lazy, but my goal is not to let anyone take advantage of that.

  • Guy Says:

    You only had to call twice and you’re this upset? Ha! I work for the bank and two calls is generally the minimum number required to resolve even the simplest issues. Here’s a little known fact for you: customer service representatives lose incentive money if they waive too many fees in a given month, so most just say they’ll do something about it and “forget” after the fact. :-)

  • Nut Says:

    I guess when you put it that way I shouldn’t be upset, but when you call, wait on hold, talk to someone, “resolve” the issue, and then realize a week later that nothing was done…I was angry. I don’t even want to know what the policies are…it’ll make me angrier.

  • The Writer’s Coin » Blog Archive » Another Bank of America Story: Fees Says:

    […] written about my experiences with Bank of America before (when they botched a large deposit/transfer) and today I have another story to share with […]

  • The Writer’s Coin » Blog Archive » Credit Card Rewards vs. Keep the Change Says:

    […] gave it much thought because, even though I’m a BofA customer (my tribulations have been well documented), I’m a credit-card rewards person. I buy everything with my card and accumulate […]

  • almazul Says:

    i’m furious with BofA right now. The IRS levied my account, but then reversed it 24 hours later. F***ing B of A charged me $100!! for the privilege of being levied! I am unemployed and $100 is a hell of a lot of money for me right now. I argued with them–of course–and spoke with 3 supervisors. But they all just kept repeating the same inanities…argh! I so frustrated and mad — and now broke.
    If anyone knows of anything i can do–please help!
    (pls no lectures about how it’s my own fault–i already feel that way, and it’s not helpful.)

    • Nut Says:

      almazul: That’s so weird that you commented on this now…I literally JUST got off the phone with them for a couple of fees they nailed me with and I was very measured and very polite and so were they. And guess what? They credited my account and changed my type of account so this wouldn’t happened again. I keep hearing awful things but they’ve been nothing but awesome with me. Go figure!

  • CJE Says:

    I would agree with this…. because I banked with them for 15 years… BUT…. I recently tried this process and it failed and left my with a very bitter taste and unsettled feeling about the big bank I now hate!

    After making a phone call to close my account. Ok, thank you so much… they never closed it. I moved all my online bill pay to my new account and then never thought about BOA again until I received a letter in the mail stating that I was overdrawn by $500. Apparently, the account wasn’t closed and there was an automatic payment in my online bill pay going out every other week. In my mind, this was their error. I had closed my account, yet they kept trying to take funds from a closed account.

    They stated that the account was never closed.

    Ultimately… I paid BOA $900.00 **not a painless price** after 6 months of trying to escalate and resolve. I was always professional and polite and active in my efforts to recover, but it was utlimately me against and them… and their resolution was to take onto my credit report default banking which would have ruined me.

    In the end…. they are bigger and will win… No matter how many years of wonderful banking relationships I had with them.

  • Nut Says:

    This is true…sucks that you had that bad experience!

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