Reader Michael signed up for a new free checking account with WaMu and the person who opened the account for him (accidentally?) enrolled Michael in some sort of bullshit coupon program that costs $5 a month. Now WaMu has charged him a $10 early termination fee and is refusing to refund it.
While searching for bank to open up my first checking and savings account, I decided to take WaMu up on its much-advertised free checking account offer. Unfortunately, that decision left me with a $5 monthly fee.
For some unknown reason, when I first opened up my account at a local WaMu branch a week and a half ago I was also simultaneously enrolled in the “Plus Package” program. I’m not sure if it’s standard practice for bank representatives to enroll new customers in the program, but it’s certainly an interesting twist on “free” accounts.
Within days of opening my account I noticed a $5 debit while reviewing my information online. The description read “PLUS PACKAGE MEMBERSHIP,” which made it pretty easy to find out what was going on. I soon learned about all the fantastic benefits of membership from a terse entry on WaMu’s website, including discounts on hotel accommodations and eyewear. No thanks
I went back to my local branch last Saturday and explained that I never consented to enrolling in the program and never received any information about it. The representative was very understanding and un-enrolled me from the program and refunded the $5. She speculated that the mistake may have been because they used to enroll people in the program for a free trial, a promotion which has since ceased. However, I would have also guessed that the old promotion at least included telling customers about the program — ya know, about the fees and benefits. Apparently not.
Unfortunately, I’ve also found out that there is a $10 early termination fee for leaving the program within 120 days of enrolling in it, so now I’ve gone from being out $5 to being out $10 for my new free account. I wrote an online message to customer service about the mix-up and a representative responded that there was “no bank error” and I would not be refunded. I’ve sent another message back in hopes of clarifying the situation and am awaiting a reply.
So far this has been a mediocre start to our new relationship. Way to go WaMu!
Michael writes to WaMu:
I was originally enrolled in this program without my knowledge and went back to my local bank less than a week after opening my account to un-enroll from the Plus Package program. The initial $5 monthly fee has since been refunded to my account but now I need this early termination fee to be refunded as well.
WaMu writes to Michael:
Dear Michael [redacted]:
Thank you for your email.
Washington Mutual takes responsibility for bank errors and will work with customers to resolve issues arising from those errors. Your concern has been researched, and as no bank error was found, the fee cannot be refunded.
I regret any inconvenience this may cause you.
We would not be shocked to learn that there’s some sort of incentive for WaMu bankers to enroll hapless individuals such as yourself in this coupon program. Oooh, coupon programs with monthly fees make Consumerist very unhappy!
(Photo:bookish in north park)