7 Overdrafts Refunded After Reader Writes Bank of America CEO

Yet another reader confirms that if Bank of America is hitting you with overdraft fee after overdraft fee, you can get them waived by writing a complaint letter to CEO Kenneth D. Lewis.

This is his address:

Mr. Kenneth D. Lewis
100 N. Tryon Street.
Mail Code NC-1-007-18-01
Charlotte, NC 28255

Annet got 7 overdraft fees refunded, even though it was completely his fault. Mr. Lewis just really didn’t want to lose Annet’s account, it seems.

Read the complaint letter and success story, inside…

Thank you, thank you, thank you. After reading the post about the BoA customer who got $280 in NSF fees refunded, I wrote BoA myself. They had charged me 7 NSF fees in succession (which sucked ass) and was my fault. I’d asked the bank to cap the fees at 3 (another bank has done that for me in the past). Both the bank manager nor the CSR I spoke to on the phone said no.

I was pissed. So I wrote a formal letter of complaint to Kenneth Lewis. This past Saturday, they refunded all of the fees – even though it was my fault. I can’t believe it. That rocks. People do have the power.

April 19, 2007

Mr. Lewis:

No worries. I’m not asking for anything. I’m lodging a complaint. April 16 – 17 My checking account was charged 5 NSF fees. Having spoken to the branch manager at the Takoma Park DC branch and to a CSR on the phone, I’m informed I’ll be charged another 3 NSF fees if I don’t deposit money before the transactions are processed.

The NSF fees are legit. I don’t deny that. They are excessive however. Some banks would agree. I requested to have the fees capped at 3 considering:

1) I have two direct deposits coming in this Friday/Saturday as can be attested by my banking history

2) It usurious to pay ultimately $280 in fees for less than $200 in charges (something Congress has verbally blasted the credit card industry for) and

3) I’m not a deadbeat. Summer of 2006 I filed a claim for a lost deposit check (which was found *gasp*). I tried lodging a complaint about the experience – it was clear from the CSRs I spoke with they considered me a liar. Their service bordered on disdain.

My requests for relief were denied repeatedly. Even if I hadn’t had NSF fees before – 2 or 3 in the past year – BoA would only credit one fee. I’m not a good customer. Right.

I’m a damn good customer.

I’m 25 years old. I’m near maxed out on my credit card which BoA is making money on thanks to the finance fees. Lots of money too. A quick look at my banking history will reveal that most of my expenses are for entertainment, fun, etc. I’m not broke, just young. BoA profits on me from the credit card, from the NSF fees in the past, and from the fact I’ve pretty much stopped going into a branch. I raved (and still do) about how easy it is to use the new ATM/deposit machines.

I’m not closing my account immediately. I am moving most of my funds to ING online checking. My money will earn much better interest and ING won’t beat me down with excessive NSF fees. I have to keep a banking account open to participate at ING; I will stay at BoA until I’ve found a new home at a credit union. I’ll pay down the credit card within the next 2 months and keep the balance below $100 so I can keep building credit. BoA will be making a lot less money off me.

The customer rep I spoke with said he was distressed (of course) that I’ll ultimately be closing my account because of legitimate NSF fees. I’ll ultimately close my account because it’s not fun being treated so badly. I’m one of millions but I did improve your bottom line. If BoA had refunded/credited the NSF fees as requested, I’d be improving your bottom line for a while to come. I’m sorry I won’t be. I liked BoA for the most part.

Thank you.

Annet

[address redacted]

CC: Senator Carl Levin, Chairman
the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Investigative Subcommittee

You have the power and it’s in your pen. Use it! — BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY:
Man Gets $280 Back From Bank Of America After Writing CEO
BoA Gives Wrong Information, Charges Customer $280, Doesn’t Care

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. KF4 says:

    The most amusing part of the entire letter, other than the overall tone, is the CC: Carl Levin. Lol.

  2. The Bigger Unit says:

    I hate to sound like a jerk (well…not really), but while the NFS fees are ridiculous, if you have them coming to you, you have them coming to you. Letters of complaint to CEO’s of companies should be saved for important complaints, not because you don’t feel like paying NFS fees because you can’t track your finances as a result of going out drinking, er, being “entertained”. If the banks are charging non-legit stuff, then write important people. Don’t waste their time for frivolous crap because eventually they’ll stop responding to important complaints (in my opinion).

  3. A.Twafeletta says:

    @The Nature Boy: I think he says it all here:

    “It usurious to pay ultimately $280 in fees for less than $200 in charges”

    He may have done the deed that created the extra charges but there is a point when it’s not right to extort that much from your customer. Obviously you have never had to live on the edge with your money. One bounce can create ten more.

    As a paying customer, using your resources (letter to the big wig) makes sense. The bank could just as easily disregarded the letter.

    I say it was a win-win.

  4. Dan_25 says:

    Its people like him that make it harder for customers with legit complaints to get their fees waived.

  5. I wish I would have known about this when I was going to college. At FSU they encourage you to use Suntrust bank (a ripoff) so your scholarships can be deposited and your tuition withdrawn automatically. It seemed like a good deal so I wouldn’t have to bother with it – and you have to go to Suntrust to get your student ID anyways, why not?

    After a direct deposit was late into my account I bounced 7 checks around town – paying $48 for a pack of $8 socks ($20 to Sunstrust, $20 to Walmart). On top of that, after 2 bounces the fee goes up – I was paying $31 for a $1 Wendy’s hamburger. In a matter of hours I went from thinking I had plenty of money to being completely destroyed $700 in the hole – only $200 of which were actual purchases.

    I quickly paid back the debts to everyone, closed my account with SunTrust, and I will never use checks again.

  6. eldergias says:

    @The Nature Boy: Did you miss select parts of his letter? Where did you get “you don’t feel like paying NFS fees” from:

    “I’m not asking for anything. I’m lodging a complaint.”

    “The NSF fees are legit. I don’t deny that. They are excessive however.”

    He is not saying, “give me my money back” he is saying, “your current practices are unfair and because of that I am taking my business elsewhere.” I can’t even fathom how that is objectionable. I would think that executives would welcome input (not requests or demands) about the services of their company for the future betterment of the company. If higher ups didn’t get frank input from customers how would they ever know what their customers wanted? I put almost no faith in “research companies”, higher ups need the word on the street.

  7. The Bigger Unit says:

    @A.Twafeletta: Ahh, but dude also writes “A quick look at my banking history will reveal that most of my expenses are for entertainment, fun, etc. I’m not broke, just young.”

    Umm, perhaps you shouldn’t go out boozing if you can’t pay the note. I don’t make a whole lot of money either, so I don’t go nuts with my money. When I can afford it, I’ll go party. Racing the bank to deposit money to pay for stuff already bought is a ‘you’ problem, not a ‘CEO of BoA’ problem.

    That said, I agree that NFS fees are crazy…I’ve never paid one though, nor do I ever plan to, even though I live paycheck to paycheck. Banks are in business to get your money, one way or another.

  8. Hoss says:

    @The Nature Boy: I disagree. Mr. Lewis should be aware of how his bank’s policies affect people…and he should invite such comments. If Mr. Lewis or his kid got charged $240 in fees (fines), I’ll bet he’d make an attempt to get them reversed.

  9. mopar_man says:

    With all these CEO connections that have been posted lately, I’m sure they’ve been bombarded by idiots that won’t take responsibility for their actions. This guy is partly in that camp but I have to agree that the fees are outrageous.

  10. enm4r says:

    @The Nature Boy:

    I guess we’re reading the letter with different eyes, because the way I see it, there is a astronomical difference in providing feedback (this letter) and complaining or “wasting a CEOs time on trivial matters” as you seem to be saying. The guy admits flat out that it’s his fault, that he’s paid the fees in the past, and he’ll pay them again. He never once even attempts to say “REFUND ME OR ELSE!”

    I think the letter was clear and to the point, and obviously effective. It’s no different than filling out the comment card at the local establishment and having those shoot straight to upper management.

  11. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I agree with the “excessive” card here, but it boils down to if someone was watching his money and managing it better, NSF fees, excessive or not, wouldn’t even be an issue.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that complaining to the CEO of a large company perhaps weakens future complaints? You really need to be careful of who you throw these things to…I know the whole “shit rolls downhill” thing is true, but use it too much and you’re just going to become the boy who cried wolf.

  12. harumph says:

    the big problem i have with this type of thinking is that people then learn that they can get stuff by complaining, even if they are in the wrong. yes the fees were excessive but this person f’ed up. i used to be an auto mechanic and many customers learned to complain about everything just to get some money taken off their bill. i know this wouldn’t happen at a bank but inevitably the discount got kicked downhill to the mechanic and i would have time taken away, even if i had done nothing wrong at all. my point is that if you make complaints in order to lessen your bill, be conscious of the fact that, if possible, management will ALWAYS send it downhill instead of having the company eat it. usually it lands on someone who does not deserve it either.
    i am not talking about this case in particular but about this mindset that is very prevalent in the u.s.

  13. K-Bo says:

    @A.Twafeletta:

    “It usurious to pay ultimately $280 in fees for less than $200 in charges”

    It wasn’t the banks fault that these fees came on many small transactions instead of one $200 check. They don’t charge a fee per dollar overdrawn, it’s per transaction overdrawn. It is the fault of the person who uses the account when there isn’t enough money.

  14. DeeHaney says:

    I agree that such an excess of NSF fees sucks. But, being young and handling finances also sucks. What if the bank automatically waived one NSF fee a quarter for student accounts? Would it be appreciated those times when a student mismanaged, or which I think more likely, would it be abused?

    So I worry of this letter deal getting abused as well. Having done my fair share of time in the front lines of retail, it really bugged when irate customers would get their way and polite customers would not. The general corporate rule was basically, “once they are a scene, just get them out the door”.

    A lot of customers knew this, and became abusive to get they wanted.

  15. Binthere2 says:

    OR maybe the CEo gets it and that is why he is the CEO. He understands that he makes more from this confused, but contented young man as a customer than he would if he alienated him. Now, if the branch manager had this fore sight or commitment to company profits, he would have done the same thing. Don’t fault the CSR as they don’t really get much leeway in any direction.

    Maybe the CEO used this example to train his managers. “Don’t piss people off over $80 when you are making $200 off them in the same stroke”.

  16. Lordstrom says:

    I will never use Bank of America again after getting charged ridiculous fees three times in a row. The problem isn’t so much the idea of the fee, but the FACT that it was so much that it became impossible to put enough money in to cover everything.

    I had no choice but to close the account just to stop the fees, even after constantly putting money in. That is a really bad business policy. Bank of America can go to hell.

  17. lovelybones says:

    It’s Annet here.

    You bet your ass I’m not going to ask for anything else from BoA in the future. This was way above and beyond the call of duty. And I’m writing Carl Levin again to tell him about the conclusion. I’m leaning with eldergias — maybe the higher ups have no idea what’s going on.

    From the moment I started complaining/trying to negotiate at the bank, I admitted it was my fault. Damn stupid mistake.

    For everyone who’s saying that’s the way the cookie crumble, deal with it — exactly where does it says you can’t negotiate with banks? If you can get your cell phone use adjusted for calls you own up to, why can’t you do the same with NSF fees?

    I’m staying at BoA but I’ve opened an account at INGdirect and that will be the check card account — everyone gets $165 in overdraft protection. You pay 13% APR or thereabouts.

    I didn’t expect Mr Lewis to refund the fees. I wanted BoA to cap them (for no other reason than I asked, i know) and when they didn’t I got pissed and wrote the letter. They’re the ones who decided to be crazy generous. They could have ignored me. Hell, they could have refunded just the 3 NSFs I requested.

    I’m not grateful to the commentators here who feel that even if I deserve the pounding in the ass, I shouldn’t complain.

    And I’m a girl :) Not a guy.

  18. DCKiwi says:

    @The Nature Boy:

    The problem is that BOA doesn’t allow you to complain to ANYONE lower down in the food chain about NSF charges. If they don’t want their CEO to get complaints about these, they need to empower their local branch managers to make exceptions and/or be flexible with these charges. I had a similar situation – I keep a large balance in my account and I balance my checkbook religiously. On one occasion I forgot about a scheduled monthly withdrawal to an outside savings account. This one unanticipated withdrawal caused a chain reaction of 7 – 10 other small transactions triggering NSF insufficient fund charges (many of the transactions were less than $5.00).

    My argument to BOA is that this was clearly caused by a SINGLE forgotten transaction, so why am I being charged 10 overdraft fees? The problem was that the customer service rep and the bank manager had NO authority to override these NFS fees, even though I was a loyal, high balance customer with an impeccable record. When I threatened to close my account, they happily agreed to do so.

    Was I technically at fault? Yes. Did I technically owe then hundreds of dollars in fees for a single bad transaction? Yes. But the difference is that small local banks are actually empowered to review your account and make intelligent decisions based on your account history and your value as a customer. BOA employees have no choice, so the only option is to go to the CEO!

  19. exkon says:

    Fees are there to teach people to manage their money, Even though the fees were more than actual transaction, there’s nothing wrong with them.

    I mean, if I’m using money that’s not mine, hell I expect to pay for it.

    I have never overdrafted, I mean how hard is to know how much you have in the bank?

    Though the writer admits fault, he does not admit being stupid for over drafting that many times.

  20. exkon says:

    @DCKiwi:

    Apparently, you don’t know how to talk to people. I personally have a friend who works at BoA as a Personal Senior Banker, and he always reversing overdraft fees. Maybe it was the way you came off, but I highly doubt that anyone in the banking center doesn’t have the ability to reverse your charges.

    He generally will reverse the charges if you come politely, but has harder time if you come in like a jerk.

  21. DCKiwi says:

    @exkon:

    “I mean, if I’m using money that’s not mine, hell I expect to pay for it.”

    Agreed. But are you expecting to pay 10,000% to borrow money for 2 days?

    Again, yes it is legal, yes it is the customer’s fault. Yes. But screwing customers excessively on technicalities just to make an extra buck is not the world’s best business model.

    There’s a reason everyone despises BOA. They’re great if you’re just going to use them as a glorified direct deposit/ATM. But don’t EVER EVER attempt to reason with a human being at that company.

  22. DCKiwi says:

    @exkon:

    “Apparently, you don’t know how to talk to people.”

    Thanks for the information about your friend. I appreciate it, even though you are implying that I was rude to the BOA reps. I was only ever polite to them.

    By the way, apparently Annet doesn’t know how to talk to people too, because she had to go all the way to the CEO. What’s with all these rude clueless customers?

  23. Ass_Cobra says:

    Great Letter. Great Result. There’s no reason to not go to the top, especially with well thought out feedback and clearly defined steps that the bank can take to make their experience better in the future.

    Overdraft fees, ATM fees etc. are huge money makers for any bank. Retail customers are a goldmine for these guys, most people blindly pay fees that are charged based on nothing more than it’s what the bank thinks they can get away. BofA while smaller than Citigroup by assets has a larger portion of those assets in retail deposits. It should come as no shock that BofA is vastly more profitable than Citi.

    I deal with banks both professionally and personally and I can tell you on the professional side everything……everything….every fee, term condition, etc. is considered up for negotiation. No reason that your average consumer shouldn’t take that same tack. Unfortunately (as was pointed out before) the individuals tasked with interacting with customers are very rarely given the opportunity to negotiate a reasonable and equitable solution. For example, I think the idea of an overdraft amnesty/parole is an incredibly reasonable solution. i.e. we’ll waive your NSF/Overdraft fees for this series of transactions. If you don’t overdraw during the next 12 months, they’re permanently waived. If you do, you’ll be on the hook for your new overdraft and the previously waived ones.

    The customer, feels like the bank is cutting them a break and the bank can hopefully curb bad behavior. Not to say that this is the ideal solution, but it’s something that really only the CEO, or someone maybe a couple of pay grades down could get to work. If he isn’t getting feedback on what is irking the shit out of customers, how’s he going to act?

  24. Ass_Cobra says:

    “Fees are there to teach people to manage their money, Even though the fees were more than actual transaction, there’s nothing wrong with them.”

    Aside from the fact that it irritates otherwise good customers, you’re correct, there’s nothing wrong with them. Does $35 as a fee work for you? Would $350 work for you? Are they legitimate because the bank says so, or is there some level after which you’d consider them excessive? The CEO is getting feedback that his fee structure doesn’t work for this particular customer. This is called price discovery and CEOs actually value this kind of feedback immensely.

  25. exkon says:

    @DCKiwi:

    Only assuming because from I hear from my friend that works at BOA they usually just kinda fold up at these kinds of fees and just reverse them.

    So I found it hard, to see that you had such trouble. I’ve personally haven’t had any issues with BoA, other than the fact that their stupid montlly finance charges went up on their credit cards.

    Hope you have better a experience next time.

  26. Lordstrom says:

    I’m sorry but, charging an overdraft fee because you couldn’t pay the previous overdraft fee(despite being able to cover the original amount) within the 8 hour window should be illegal, since the customer has no control at that point.

    Basically, the bank wantonly creates it’s own transactions for your account and then charges overdraft fees on each one of those transactions.

    The fee is treated as both a transaction and a fee. That should be illegal.

  27. jaewon223 says:

    Something similar happened to me where my credit card payment tried to deduct twice and it caused mayhem to my banking account. All in all I had about 5 nsf fee’s as a result and it took a week to get it all settled but Wachovia was very nice about it and was helpful all along the way. I guess it was a lot easier because it was merchant error.

    The amount of nsf fee’s really do start to add up if you do make an error. I think he has a point of having to pay more than double of his purchases because of nsf fee’s.

  28. xanax25mg says:

    I’m at a loss why Annet thought she was entitled to even 3 NSF’s refunded. She obviously knew the bank policy and fee schedule based on her earlier NSF charges. I don’t think being under 45 entitles one to be a screw-up and just say “but i’m a kid!”. I’ve worked and had savings, then checking accounts since I was the age of 13 (and i’m just turning 30 in 3 months, so I”m not an old codger) and have never had an NSF in my life because I managed my money well. And I’m not an obsessive compulsive or came from a wealthy family of hedge fund managers, I just was taught how to manage money responsibly. And if Annet didn’t think BOA was fair after her first 3 NSF screw ups she should have gone to a bank that thinks 20-something year olds are too retarded to take care of their money a checking account and will baby and pamper her.

  29. xanax25mg says:

    I don’t know why this story got me shot out of a cannon today, but one more point. If Annet was able to compose a detailed and thoughtful letter, full of facts and timelines, etc to a CEO, how come she couldn’t use that same sort of attention to detail to managing her finances?

  30. Hoss says:

    Look, what if Annet was stopped going 40 miles an hour on a 35 mile/hr road and she successfully pleaded to the cop that it’s not her style, that she realizes she screwed up, but that a $50 ticket plus several years of insurance penalties seems excessive for this kind of violation — is that still a problem for everyone? Kudos Annet!

  31. xredgambit says:

    This is a good idea. I’ll talk to my bank branch first, because I have been screwed in the past from chase, but it was resolved. This time for a total of $15 I’m being charged $160 in overdraft charges. One of the charges was for $0.58. I’ll request if they can cap it to 3 charges.

  32. K-Bo says:

    @lorddave: That I know of, no bank charges a fee because the NSF fee bounces, because by definition it bounces. They charge the fee because you do another NSF transaction after the first one. I think the deeper issue here is responsible consumerism. If you are cutting it that close that often, you have bigger issues than the banks charges.

  33. Sudonum says:

    @harumph:
    Where have you been living? I have been dealing with the public for the last 20 years and the one thing I’ve learned is that if you complain, you’ll get something. It may not be exactly what you want, but you’ll get something. Hopefully, for the rest of us, it’ll only be experience.

    Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

  34. Lordstrom says:

    @K-Bo: No, they kept charging me because I couldn’t pump in enough money every day to cover all those fees.

    The really retarded thing is, because of their overzealous charging, I quit using their $20,000 limit credit card. Bank of America lost countless amounts of money over it.

  35. coreyander says:

    @lovelybones:
    And I’m a girl :) Not a guy.
    Ha, story of my life…

    I think this is a great story. Usury is definitely the word for seven overdraft fees. As many have said before me, fees used to be a way to recoup fees incurred; now they are simply a way to milk customers. I also completely disagree with those who argue that because they have never been in a circumstance like this, the complaint is somehow illegitimate.

    I recently wound up with about as many overdraft fees from WaMu (I don’t even want to see exactly how many). It was technically my fault, but it was hardly the result of gross negligence or an inability to manage money. I share a joint checking account and savings account with my boyfriend. We are both graduate students and receive our stipends in lump sums every quarter. It would be stupid for us to leave most of it in a checking account when we could accrue some interest on it instead. So, we transfer money from savings to checking whenever we pay bills. We make $30-$40 a month on interest. However, one day a credit card payment of $800 (stuff that it wasn’t even necessary to charge; I just do it to maintain good credit) was accidentally scheduled for the day before the corresponding deposit. I didn’t realize that my online transfer has been a day later than I expected until I realized that I had a ridiculous number of overdrafts. I was charged something like $32 each (again, I don’t even want to check) for various expenses incurred over one day: $1.50 for parking at school, around $5 for lunch, a quick trip to the grocery store after work, a gas fill-up, etc. etc. None of them were even frivolous expenses!

    What consumers should really request from banks, however, is a fundamental change in how overdrafts are treated. In our case, we had a savings account at the same bank under the same names holding over ten thousand dollars. Why don’t they set up a policy where overdrafts will be automatically debited to an associated account? Granted, it wouldn’t make them a boatload of money, but it would be much fairer to the consumer. We are all essentially forced into managing our money using banks, it is about time we held them to some sort of standard.

  36. xanax25mg says:

    @coreyander: Why is it illegitimate to argue that for the most part, the average, responsible person never has an overdraft charge? In regards to Anett, by her own admission she was far from responsible with her finances. It seems very legitimate to point out that people that avoiding NSF’s are easy if you’re responsible. I was a grad student for 5 years myself and it was simple enough to put my lump sum stipend and student loans into an interest bearing checking account at TCF and again I never had to worry about NSF’s. What I am worried is in your case you had TWO graduate students monitoring your money and yet you still found a way to get NSF’s.

  37. K-Bo says:

    @coreyander:” What consumers should really request from banks, however, is a fundamental change in how overdrafts are treated. Why don’t they set up a policy where overdrafts will be automatically debited to an associated account? “

    Many banks do offer this, but they do charge a fee when they have to go to the savings because of NSF. It’s less than the normal NSF fees though.

    And for those who think I’m arguing that this is not the banks fault because I’m perfect and have never had a NSF charge, I had 2 last month (I’ve had about 4 in my life). All were cases where I dropped the ball and bought something I shouldn’t have. It’s my fault and only my fault.

    The only NSF fee I’ve ever felt was not my fault was one time I was at walmart, swipped the debit card, realized it was a bad idea, hit cancel, it asked me to swipe a card, I swipped the credit card, and it still charged the debit card. The Customer Service call for that one would have become a classic had I recorded it. All they wanted to focus on was that I hadn’t been charged twice, so there was no problem. I see it as a problem, because their system told me my card was cleared out. (Moral of this story: If you swipe the wrong card, have them cancel the entire transaction)

  38. coreyander says:

    @xanax25mg:

    I find it arrogant and naive to assume that just because you have not had an NSF fee, that anyone who does must have been irresponsible. I didn’t “find a way” to get an NSF fee, my credit card company (which is also my bank) found a clever way to make it more likely for a busy person with a demanding life to accidentally get charged a ridiculous amount of money for a very minor error. I had a new credit card with a strange online payment system. They automatically deferred payments for three business days, but buried this in fine print on a different section of their website. I simply was not yet aware that a payment made on, say, Monday would be deferred until Thursday. It is true that I didn’t read every inch of fine print on the credit card website, but I don’t think I should have to devote the precious few hours I have making sure that I’m aware of every loophole some bank throws into their policy with the hopes that it will make them a chunk of change. I’m sure that they figure a good number of people who have to pay their bills at the last minute – a position I am lucky not to be in – will accidentally schedule their payment just a little too late.

    Anyway, I would hope that when you were in graduate school you spent more time on your academic commitments (if you had any) than poring over the details of every account you are (forced) to open in order to operate in this capitalist society. Personally, I would rather devote my energies to my work rather than to protecting myself from clever usurers. As a consumer, I don’t think that my life should have to revolve around the arcane policies of financial corporations that I don’t even want to deal with in the first place.

    As for your tip about interest bearing checking accounts, that is one possible option, but it doesn’t address the particular problem that I am trying to highlight. I shouldn’t have to hunt down a fancy bank account in order not to get screwed. Besides, I was describing my experience with the particular bank (and now credit card co.) that I have been using for 10+ years and that I now have no choice but to stick with for the next year because I’m trying to establish residency in my new state in order to keep raking in the big grad student bucks. Trust me, if I could move my money, I would.

  39. coreyander says:

    @K-Bo:
    Many banks do offer this, but they do charge a fee when they have to go to the savings because of NSF. It’s less than the normal NSF fees though.

    My bank doesn’t even have overdraft protection available. They say that they will only transfer money from a savings account if a negative balance is maintained for too long, and in those cases they charge an additional fee on top of the NSF.

  40. coreyander says:

    A few facts from The Center for Responsible Lending’s 2007 report on debit card overdrafts: (available at: http://www.responsiblelending.org/pdfs/Debit-Card-Danger-r

    – Consumers spend more than 10.3 billion in overdraft loans (NSF fees) per year
    – 3/4 of that amount — 7.3 billion — is paid by chronic borrowers living on the margins of solvency; low wage workers who are likely to rent, rather than own their home

    – 61% of those surveyed said they would prefer to have an ATM/Debit payment declined than have an automatic overdraft protection loan. Most banks, however, do not provide this as an option.

    – 66% of the overdrafts in their report were associated with an account at one of the 15 largest banks in the country, also suggesting that a lack of consumer choice is part of the reason why NSF fees are so prevalent.

    Recommendations include:
    – a warning before a customer completes a transaction which would result in a negative balance
    – allowing consumers to consent in advance to the use of lower-cost protection programs that draw from other accounts (60% of respondents reported having a savings account at the same bank where they overdrew their checking)
    – having consumers opt in to overdraft loans or choose to simply have NSF transactions denied

  41. xanax25mg says:

    @coreyander: I’m baffled by your statement you are “forced” to open accounts to operate in this society. How hard is it to research a good bank that serves your needs, open that account and abide by their rules? No one mandated you open your account at WaMu or wherever you did. If you didn’t read all the bank policies, archaic as they may be, again that’s your problem. Great for you if you’d rather spend your time reading Proust than balancing your checkbook, but don’t look for sympathy when you get hit with fees that were spelled out in the bank policy. And also, I find it hard to muster sympathy when there were TWO of you on that account. How come neither of you bothered to check your balalnces?

  42. awj says:

    I was an account holder at BofA twice — once in the early 90s and a few years later, after they merged with NationsBank. They were the best bank I’d ever dealt with the first time. Didn’t matter what branch or what kind of issue — the staff was competent and they actually seemed to care.

    Not so the second time around. Accounts that were supposedly linked would become unlinked – leading to service charges, I had snowballing NSF fees like the ones described by other writers in this thread, and even the tellers seemed to be a cut below the drive-up window staff at McDonalds. I’ve switched to ING and Wachovia – lower fees, higher interest rates, and competent staff. One of my credit cards was recently acquired by BofA — even though it was a low fixed-rate card, my experience with BofA screwing things up prompted me to cancel the card. They are the most incompetent bank in the world.

  43. Dan_25 says:

    you can always do a PIN based transaction, which would decline if you are NSF. Or just replace your Debit Card with a plain ol ATM card. You have plenty of options, but it seems like alot of people want all the benefits of a Visa Debit Card without any of the responsibility that goes along with it.

  44. coreyander says:

    @xanax25mg: You are quite presumptuous about that which you know very little; I don’t pretend to know the details of your financial existence. In fact, I did have to open the account – and at the specific branch that I did – for reasons that are none of your business. If I close the account within the next 7 months, I will also wind up with a $10,000 bill for my tuition and lose my fellowship. Welcome to our modern world. Policies don’t always make sense.

    I also have to rely on the online balances of my accounts which, in this case, weren’t accurate. That is the problem. The bank acted like it has cleared something that had actually been delayed for a couple of days. I continue to maintain that this is a policy designed to be deceptive.

    Besides, I am hardly looking for the sympathy of someone who goes by “xanax25mg”. I disagree with the policies of a bank that I’m being forced to work with and that’s it. I expressed an objection to a specific policy of a specific bank so that others could be aware of something that I was not.

  45. MandM813 says:

    For those of you defending the banks, how come you haven’t mentioned the fact that B of A changes the order of when to process your transactions so that you get charged as many overdraft fees as possible? Just recently, I wrote a check for $250 dollars, and forgot about it. My fault, yes. I spent the $250 over the course of the week, and the following Monday, the check was deposited. Instead of charging me one overdraft fee for the $250 check, they switched everythin around so that the check was shown as being processed first, deducting all my money, and THEN the 15 or so small charges (all less than $15 dollars each)are processed. Guess what that means? One overdraft fee turned into FOURTEEN.

    After calling customer service and pleading with them, I finally got the rep to admit that they DO manipulate the order of how the charges are deducted. He told me that it’s a courtesy to the customer, so that their big-ticket and important transations (like rent or car payments) are covered, over the smaller, less important charges. What I would like to know is how the heck does charging me $500 in fees for a $250 check that I didn’t have funds for, become a courtesy to me? I have had the account for a year, and have always had direct deposit through my job. I think that it would be safe for them to assume that they would get their money back, my check was due to be direct deposited that Friday.

    I finally called the corporate customer service number that I got here on Consumerist.com, and they informed me that there was a limit of how many fees they could charge per day, and that they would only charge me for 5 overdraft fees. I was so relieved, because knowing how they work, I was positive that they would charge me the 14 fees. BTW, not trying to make excuses, but I’m a single mom of a 6 year old, making it on my own. My money isn’t spent on going out or having fun. Again, I am NOT saying that anyone should feel sorry for me or excuse my financial irresponsibilities , but hopefully people will understand that certain situations make it harder for people to avoid these difficulties.

    Although I’m grateful that I didnt get charged 14 fees, I still am upset that I ended up paying $175 for being overdraft by $250. It’s a bit like those payday loans; you can never get on your feet because you’re past mistakes keep you in a hole, digging yourself deeper and deeper.

    In my opinion, banks should not be allowed to manipulate the order of transactions like that. However, I do appreciate that they pay the transactions. I know some banks will reject the charges, AND still charge you overdraft fees, not to mention the fee you will by charged by the merchant. Anyway, I do thank Bank of America for that aspect…..

  46. jaybird691 says:

    Well, I opened an account with BOA online in April and the only location within 50 miles of my home is a branch that was a LaSalle bank. For the first two months I was not even able to make a deposit at that bank or its ATM even though the buyout was complete because the computer conversion wasn’t complete (and still isn’t). So the branch manager overnighted my deposit to the BOA HQ and gave me the address to mail my deposits. At the end of July I mailed a deposit only to have it returned because it was for overnight delivery only. This caused hundreds of dollars in fees as they caused a snowball effect. The initial cause was less than $35 in overdrafts but caused $170 in fees while they were still pending. These were debit card charges that hadn’t even hit the account yet. I lost my job in the beginning of August and could not make enough deposits to cover the losses and checks that I had written in the end of July came through the first then second time and caused over $1000 in fees in August. The customer service center was of little help. Meanwhile, my aunt went to a BOA banking center on Aug 29 to make a cash transfer into my checking account of $800. I needed to use that money to make a wire transfer to Ford Motor. The amount was not credited until September 2, the day after Labor Day. While my aunt had made the deposit before 9:30 am that day I did not receive immediate credit even though it was a cash deposit. The customer service center said it was because my account was opened in a different state. The problem with this is that my vehicle was repossessed on the morning of the 2nd for not making the payment as I told them I would. This put me over the edge. I was unemployed, had no money, and had no car. I was a bank manager for several years and this is was the lamest excuse I have ever heard. I then sent a letter to Executive Relations as instructed by the Customer Service Center. It was returned in three weeks due to a change in the mail directory. (No kidding I still have the envelope.) So I found your site and mailed the following letter to the CEO. It has been over 10 days and no reply. Meanwhile I have sent copies to every state representative and Congressman I have access too. As it appears that we the taxpayers have had to bail out the banks, I demand, as a partial owner of these banks, to now assist us with a bailout. I am very polite and courteous when speaking to the customer service reps of any company but never could get any satisfaction. I will keep you updated on how it goes.