My Bank of America Story
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.