Chase: Thanks For Depositing $3,193, Here's $200 In Non-Sufficient Funds Fees

Johanna deposited a financial aid check from her university into her Chase checking account. She’d done this before without incident, but this time something went wrong.

On Wednesday the 22st, I deposited a financial aid check from my university for $3,193.00. I had a balance of $33.03 in the account. I deposited through the bank’s ATM machine, and the slip told me there might be a hold on the check AFTER I’d already deposited, but it did make a small sum available to me in the meantime. I wasn’t happy with that, but there was nothing I could do, the ATM already had my check so I went home, resolved to spend as little as possible until the check went through.

The next day, the 22nd, I stopped by an ATM to check my balance, because I couldn’t remember how much the bank was allowing me to have until the hold could be removed from my deposit. It told me I had access to the full amount. Delighted, I took out the $300 I needed to pay my electric bill from the ATM and went on my way.

As the day progressed, I used my debit card for things like gas and lunch. All told, about 6 small transactions. Today, I made a large grocery list, thrilled to be able to eat something other than the student staple of ramen noodles I’d been enjoying for the last week, and headed out the door.

Surprisingly (or not) when I used my debit card today it didn’t go through. I went down the street to my neighborhood Chase branch and checked my available balance. I was NEGATIVE $390! My heart stopped, as I wondered what could have happened to all of my money. I went into the branch and asked to speak to someone regarding my account. I explained all of the above. They told me that the ATM receipt I had showing my balance was only showing my ledger balance and not my available balance, and that I should have known from my deposit slip that there was a hold on my deposit. Fair enough, I said, but that distinction isn’t made on my balance statement, and anyhow, why would your ATM dispense $300 to me if the funds weren’t there?

The rep (who wasn’t wearing a name tag) said “Oh, the ATM will forward you the money, if you’re willing to pay the fee”. And this is where I pretty much loose it “how would I know I was getting hit with a fee if the ATM didn’t tell me that? It just gave me the money! So the bank knew I didn’t have the funds, gave them to me anyway, then charged me an NSF fee without telling me. I can understand this sort of thing happening with a debit transaction, but this is your ATM!”

The rep tells me she agrees with me, so I ask her if she can take off the fee. She tells me she can’t do that, that the only way that fee is going to come off is if the bank determines after my deposit “goes through” that they made a mistake, then THEY will contact ME for a refund. Ha!! The worst part is, that because of this, I got hit with 6 NSF fees for that day. The first two transactions could have been covered by my old balance of $33.03 but since Chase has a policy of covering transactions by order of amount from greatest to smallest, that $33 went to pay their ATM’s NSF fee! Convenient, isn’t it?

I ask if there’s anything they can do to remove the hold on my check, since I’ve deposited checks from my school with them before. The rep tells me that’s not an option either, because I deposited into a new account, which is true. I’ve been a customer of Chase for 4 years and had both a checking and savings account with them already, but I opened a second account with them about 2 months ago. When I explain this, she tells me that it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been with them, that’s just policy for all new accounts. So I ask her how much longer before the hold comes off, and she tells me it won’t be for another 7 days! So not only have they stolen $200 of my money in mistaken NSF fees which they caused, but they also stole my last $33. I have a quarter tank of gas and nothing to live on for the next week, not to mention a lot of bills that need to be paid before the end of the month.

I’ve never had a problem with Chase before this, but it was so frustrating how they seemed to have an answer to everything and where completely able to deflect responsibility for their screw up. The final insult came as I walked away, when the rep hollers after me to “have a nice day!” I stopped in my tracks and turned around and yelled out “not likely lady!”.

I’m so angry. I can’t even see straight.

Johanna, we applaud you for not yelling “Go @$#@ yourself” at that sarcastic banker. You are obviously a very nice person who deserves better treatment than Chase is able to provide.

We think the best thing for Johanna to do is kick this issue up to the top. Launch an EECB (executive email carpet bomb) on Chase and ask that your fees be waived and your money released. Here’s some contact info to get you started. For more information about launching an EECB, click here.

(Photo: epicharmus )

Comments

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  1. Twilly says:

    This has happened to me many times with Chase. In fact I’ve had calls from my hair dresser thinking my check bounced, but really my check was just on hold at Chase.

  2. MrGrimes says:

    We think the best thing for Johanna to do is kick this issue up to the top. Launch an EECB (executive email carpet bomb) on Chase and ask that your fees be waived and your money released.

    That’s a little drastic. I advise everyone never to deposit a check through an ATM, especially for a large amount. A $3,100 non “on-us” check will not clear next day haha. Get over it and move on with your life.

  3. stinerman says:

    Oh, how I love the phrase “ATM machine”.

  4. AD8BC says:

    @stinerman: Sounds better than AT Machine

  5. kellsbells says:

    @MrGrimes: As much as this sucks, and I’ve been in this situation before (waiting for the check to clear) I have to agree with Mr. Grimes here. There are federal banking laws requiring a bank to give you access to a little bit of the money before verifying the funds but unless it’s a cashier’s check, it’s irresponsible to think that a check deposit (at an ATM no less) will be available the next day.

  6. Hamm Beerger says:

    @stinerman: Don’t forget to put your PIN number in the ATM machine.

  7. When I make a transaction at a Commerce Bank ATM (where I am an account holder), the receipt says ‘Available Balance’.

  8. thenotwho says:

    @MrGrimes:

    Wow, you’re snarky. Johanna just had a terrible experience with Chase – which was entirely their fault – and you’re blaming HER for depositing a check through the ATM (which you’re SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO WITHOUT A HITCH)?

    Wow. We’ve sunk to a new low. Congratulations MrGrimes.

  9. axiomatic says:

    Leave Chase.

    I know its a pain to move banks, but I assure you there is one that wont screw you over at every chance they get.

    You have to think about what “value add” this bank is giving you. Currently it sounds like the “Value add” is only for Chase and not for the customer.

    Time to move on?

  10. @MrGrimes: I’m basically with Grimey on this one. Essential funds need to go somewhere more secure than an ATM. I don’t know enough about Check21, but I believe if you hand a check to an actual cashier who can then scan the MICR number, you’d have the funds immediately (if the payer is reputable and up-to-date on the technology). All bets are off when you slip it into a machine.

  11. HIV 2 Elway says:

    He wouldn’t have these problems if he just earned more money. No one should let their accounts get as low as $33. I see a part time job in his future.

  12. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: forgot the
    /sarcasam meme

  13. NYGal81 says:

    I’m not a fan of blame the victim, but folks need to be informed about how banks work. Depositing a check by ATM is about the slowest way to get your money, in my experiences. Anytime you make a deposit by check, there’s going to be some lag between when you deposit the check and when the funds clear. It’s your responsibility, as a consumer, to know how your bank works. It has also been my experience that the larger the check it, the longer it will take to post. Johanna’s being able to take money out of an ATM without the funds available is not the bank’s fault–just like you can use a credit card beyond its stated limit, if you’re willing to pay “over the limit” fees. Nothing in Johanna’s letter indicates that the bank did anything wrong. It all points to her not fact-checking two discrepant pieces of information (ATM balance vs. hold on the funds) with an actual human, and going with the one that was most convenient. Now, had she talked to someone who misinformed her, that would be different–though I doubt Chase would admit to being wrong in either case.

  14. ianmac47 says:

    Of course, she could have avoided 6 of those fees by using a credit, rather than debit card.

  15. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @NYGal81: Exactly, had this guy known how our banking system works he could have had access to the money immediately. This assumes that his bank and University’s is in the same Federal Banking district, probably a safe assumption. Just go into the bank, the people are generally friendly and many of the tellers are quite soft on the eyes.

  16. hexychick says:

    While the situation sucks and I can totally sympathize because I’ve done that same thing, it’s still user error in a way. I don’t know about anyone else, but on all my deposit slips and on the sign right on the ATM, it says that deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal. The only time I’ve ever had a check available to me immediately was with the branch manager standing there doing an over ride as it was deposited. Out of state checks also take more time to clear which is why I switched to direct deposit for my paycheck.

  17. starrion says:

    I see all these horror stories about Chase, WaMu, and BOA, and think why do people continue to bank there?

    There are plenty of smaller banks that don’t have the acquisition debt load that these mega banks have- bank with them instead. You might pay an ATM fee every couple of weeks, but at least they won’t vacuum your account dry.

  18. Landru says:

    @Ash78: But don’t some banks charge more for to interact with a human?

  19. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @HIV 2 Elway:

    Unless the OP spent some of her vapor money on a sex change…SHE was a female!

  20. byrdclaw says:

    Please.. the ATM said the funds were available, the ATM gave out the money, probably printed out the available balance right on the receipt. This is a glaring problem at every bank and not how businesses should conduct transactions with their customers. It’s a complete scam that exploits customers.

  21. StellaSquash says:

    If people would read their accompanying material when opening their accounts, she’d have known this. *(which no one does I think)

    Most banks place holds on money deposited. The ATM is running on it’s own brain and never tells the truth. I never use the ATM for deposits. I don’t trust it. Just gives the bank something to blame when things go wrong. “We didn’t do it, the ATM did.”

    I only blame Chase for giving her a checking account to begin with and not teaching her about funds availability and ATM usage.

  22. nrich239 says:

    @NYGal81: Maybe taking the money out of the ATM was their fault but the fact that the machine did not inform them that it would be assessing a fee is the bank’s problem. In no way should the money have been dispensed w/o some form of a confirmation screen stating the insufficient funds and that a fee would be charged.

  23. ideagirl says:

    @Ash78: Only if the bank is fully check21 compliant, and even if they are, they can still put a hold on the money as they see fit. Sucks, but that’s the way it is.

    In any event, I only make deposits to a teller now, because of things like this. I don’t even use the drive up window, because per my banks policy, deposits may not be posted for 24 hours. The only way to insure immediate posting is to walk up to a teller inside the bank. Once again, sucks, but that’s just the way it is.

  24. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: touche

  25. MrGrimes says:

    @NYGal81: Although they arent as bad as the credit card industry…banks use sneaky tactics to rack up fees. They LOOVE fee income. And as they add “products” that let you overdraw your account like this customer, its impossible to figure out the rules anymore.

  26. StellaSquash says:

    @ideagirl: seriously? drive up can delay deposits by 24 hours??? That’s ridiculous.
    *checks bank policy*

  27. Darren W. says:

    @kellsbells Do you mean to suggest that it’s NOT irresponsible of Chase to show him a “Balance” the next day without in any indicating that the funds were not available? Is it also not irresponsible of Chase to charge him fines for making a withdraw while not telling him about the fines?

  28. hexychick says:

    @ianmac47: That’s not the solution for everyone.

  29. jadenton says:

    I almost never deposit checks by ATM, partly because I don’t trust that it will go through as it should.

    On the other hand, my CREDIT UNION is always trying to push me off to their website or an ATM. Banks of all sorts have gone out of their way to get customers to use automated services rather than real tellers. For chase to suggest the opposite in this case is just hypocritical.

  30. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Two Words: Credit Union.

    And HIV 2 Elway: the comment you just made is causing a thousand rebuttals to go through my head, all of which I cannot say on this site. As Michelle Tanner use to say, how rude.

  31. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    HIV 2 Elway: My apologies, I see you intended sarcasm.

  32. @Landru: I’ve never heard of a bank charging you more to interact with a teller (vs. use an ATM). The only similar thing I can think of is with brokerage transactions, places like Scottrade, etc, where the commissions are tiered.

    Are there really banks that charge you to use a human teller?

  33. B says:

    I’m all for blaming the customer, but you’re missing an important piece of info. She checked her balance on the ATM the next day, and it showed the full balance, indicating the check had cleared. Of course, the OP blames this on an error by Chase, but in fact it’s clearly designed as a fee generation scheme. Report the ledger balance instead of the available balance, allow the customer to withdraw money, then stick them with the NSF Fees. I’ve known banks to report both the ledger and available balances on an ATM receipt, but never just the ledger without the available, this is clearly a sneaky tactic by Chase to deceive their customers.

  34. protest says:

    everytime i read one of these it makes me even more thankful for my credit union. i never have to wait for a check to “clear”, the entire value of the check is available the minute i deposite.
    i agree that she should escalate this to a higher up, but the whole situation is very telling of that bank’s business ethics. advise the victim to find another bank, and only deposite large amounts in person via human teller.

    i just love how banks treat your money like it’s their money.

  35. geoffhazel says:

    My similar gripe is banks that will let you overdraw your account a little via a debit card, and charge you $30.00 for each “overdraft” even though they KNOW you are overdrawing your account (or could know).

    I’ve had cases where a check I wrote took a long time to clear, and forgot about it. I went happily along, making small purchases via debit card, only to discover they had subsequently overdrawn my account multiple times.

    I asked the bank why they do this, they KNOW there is no money, and they say “We dont’ want to inconvenience or embarass you by having the purchase declined” but of course, if I was to try to buy a 42″ plasma TV, the card would surely be declined.

    What are the chances we could get a law that would give the depositer the right to say “if I have no money, do NOT let me have some anyway” — otherwisse, aren’t the banks just performing the function of a Payday loan-sharking? Sure, you can have 20.00 now, and the fee for that will be 30.00.

  36. dragonvpm says:

    I don’t know why, but it never ceases to amaze me how arrogant and condescending folks around here can be.

    @HIV 2 Elway: It’s a financial aid check, for crying out loud. Are you not familiar with how easily and often those can be delayed by factors outside of a person’s control? You have no way of knowing if they do or don’t have a part time job or if they had used savings etc… to pay for whatever this check was supposed to cover. Plus all that has nothing to do with the original point of the post. Jeez.

    And to everyone who seems to think that the person should know better, I would argue that not indicating something like “pending” when funds are not available but deposited is obviously something that the bank does to generate fees exactly like we see in this situation.

    If indicating that a particular transaction is pending is too difficult they should be able to make a note on the “check balances” screen/slip (just like they did on the deposit slip) that states “balance shown includes items that have been desposited but have not cleared” or something to that effect. Not doing it and making it look like the money is in the account and accessible is dishonest, especially if they don’t tell you that the money you’re withdrawing (at the ATM in particular) is effectively a “loan” (which is how most banks treat overdrafts nowadays) which will incur “overdraft fees”

  37. cerbie says:

    She’s screwed out of her money for some period of time over a minor oversight that is far more the bank’s fault than her own. The bank is not only at fault, but is suffering from being a large bank, by not giving the person you [she] talk [ed] to any actual ability to help you [her].

    1. Raise all Hell for them.
    2. Once you have your money, find somewhere else to store it. Chase obviously does not want you.

  38. HIV 2 Elway says:
  39. Asvetic says:

    She’s in college… chock this one up to a learning experience. It’s not the banks fault and ignorance is a weak excuse.

    What gets me is the $300 for electricity! What’s she running in her home, a laser light show?!

  40. tkozikow says:

    My daughter learned this lesson the hard way when she moved her account from a regional bank to Suntrust which was available on her college campus. Over the course of three days this spring she had about 10 transactions ranging from $0.99 (iTunes) to $5 on her debit card, not realizing that her available balance was around $10, but knew a check for $500 was waiting to clear and thought that things would be OK. Within a couple of days the NSF notices came in the mail eventually totaling $270 and the bank would not remove a single one. It did not matter that there was a check about to clear nor did the bank feel that it was their responsibility to reject the debit transactions. We know from personal experience that the regional bank with a local branch will give a courtesy call in this situation and allow you to make a deposit.

  41. thrlsekr says:

    You wonder why the economy is in the state it is. It seems the let’s get everything we can now and worry about tomorrow style of retail banking or for that matter all retail has put us in this situation.

    Johanna is in college and really needs all the help she can get and here’s Chase sticking it to her. No matter who’s fault it is, just think about when she graduates and becomes very successful in her chosen career do you think she will be putting her money in a Chase bank?

    The minute the check clears withdraw it and find a bank who will work with you and develop a long mutual beneficial relationship with that bank!

  42. bohemian says:

    Never bank somewhere that you don’t have the ability to get in the face of someone with higher management decision making or sits on the board.
    I deposited a check in an ATM once and will never ever do so again. The bank LOST the entire batch of transactions for five days bouncing checks from the weekend. I had to track down a friend of a friend who worked there to get the bank to finally admit they lost a batch of transactions and manually record my check (they had the paper copy).
    There does need to be clearer check hold policies. I even had a teller take my check, deposit it and THEN tell me I couldn’t touch it for 10 days. It took me three days and a refusal to leave a VP’s office at the main branch to get it partially resolved.

    Banks are getting to have worse odds than a casino only you have no chance of gaining more money out of it.

  43. jimv2000 says:

    I wish there was a way you could run your own debit card server…like something you could set up an a computer at home that would process debit transactions for you.

    Don’t know how it would work or how you would get money into it…but it would be nice not to have to deal with banks.

  44. bohemian says:

    @cerbie: “Chase obviously does not want you.”

    I wish more average people would get this memo and take their business away from Chase – BOA – Wells Fargo. They act like they only need their large depositors and that average consumers are a burden while ripping them off on a daily basis with stupid fees and not well disclosed rules.

    If all the small guy consumers left along with the cash banks were raking in from fees it might leave them hurting.

    Anyone know what percentage of income for these big banks comes from average customers?

  45. Paladin_11 says:

    In the odd instance where my credit union places a hold on an ATM deposit the receipt always shows two lines: Account Balance and Available Balance. They always differ by the total amount or a portion of the held check. Chase needs to adopt a similar rule for their ATMs. Which they won’t, because this is all about generating overage fees.

  46. rellog says:

    @byrdclaw: I agree. Mr. Grimes and his alter-egos may have the blame the victim mentality, but that doesn’t mean squat. Here’s the reality… her balance was shown as the entire amount. If the bank does not make those funds available, then she should have gotten the AVAILABLE balance, not the imaginary balance they gave her. If the EECB doesn’t work, sue the bank in small claims for the NSF fees. Hopefully, you retained the balance receipt to verify their screw-up…

  47. specialed5000 says:

    Several times I have deposited large ($1000 to $5000) handwritten checks into my Chase checking account, always using the teller, not the ATM. They always tell me that there will be a hold on it, usually 5 business days. With non-handwritten checks, there has never been a hold. It is never money that I need in a particular hurry, so that’s fine.

    But then, every time I have done this, I have received a letter from Chase in couple of days, telling me about the hold in writing, but saying that if I have any NSF fees, that they will refund them when the check I deposited clears. I thought that this was really cool, but have never had to test this.

  48. @jimv2000:How about the Rush Card, from Russell Simmons?

    I’m only halfway joking…it’s a debit card that lets you direct deposit paychecks into the stored balance. Definitely points for simplicity if you don’t want to use a credit card (or can’t get one)

  49. geckospots says:

    @Asvetic: Most places I’ve lived only bill the electricity every 2 months. If she’s heating with electricity and has a computer/tv/whatever, $300 is on the expensive side but it’s not an unheard of amount to pay for 2 months of power.

  50. rellog says:

    @tkozikow: You make a good point as well. How can a bank charge $30 for a $.99 song?!? There needs to be a law that overdaraft fees cannot exceed the amount of the actual transaction….

  51. HappyCthulhu says:

    I recently had the problem of the higher amount going out of my account first even though I had enough to clear a lower withdrawal.
    I admit that I should pay the NSF for the higher amount but I was going to fight to get the second NSF fee back because I did have the funds to cover that lower amount.
    By being sweet as pie, and calling back three different times each time I ran into a road block, I got my bank to return the one NSF fee that I didn’t feel I should have to pay.
    Honey…..not vinegar.

  52. JeffMc says:

    @geoffhazel: “if I have no money, do NOT let me have some anyway”

    I don’t know about a law but after my bank pulled this kind of trick on us we found out that we could send in a letter telling them to stop doing that.

    We did have one overdraft a couple years later and went in and talked to a CSR would told us yes they had the letter on file and it shouldn’t have happened so off went the charge. I don’t think we’ve had occasion to test it again, though, and that’s for the best. :)

  53. basket548 says:

    @ianmac47:

    Yes, thank you. CREDIT CARDS. Why subject yourself to the constant nightmare of keeping track of when your account is close to zero?

  54. cerbie says:

    @Asvetic: yeah, the bank’s policies and fees are wonderful, too.

    My available funds and total balance are both on any and every receipt I get that includes any account info. No deceptive ambiguity.

    Even in a situation just like the OP’s, I would have faired better, having been given both balances up front, on every receipt. Yes, the name ends in, “Credit Union.”

  55. Serpephone says:

    @byrdclaw:
    I have to agree. The ATM will print an entirely different balance from what is ACTUALLY AVAILABLE for immediate use. There should definitely be a law against this practice, as it could be considered fraud.

    My suggestion is to go to the bank on which the check is drawn and cash it.

  56. bonzombiekitty says:

    @B: My understanding was that the balance the ATM shows you is your total balance including pending withdrawals and pending deposits (the ledger balance), not necessarily how much you are allowed to withdraw.

  57. Japheaux says:

    A while back I dropped a small check into the ATM at the local Wells Fargo (I am in the Amarillo area). I literally just entered the deposit into my checkbook and forgot about it. About a week and a half later I received an envelope from Dallas with a deposit slip in it. Apparently, the ATM-team picks up the deposits and ships them off for processing instead of taking them 32 feet to the actual brick and mortar bank. Then it takes them over a week to process it. The Good Lord was looking out for me that I didn’t overdraw in that time period. I remember those college days and can relate to living on the edge. When you graduate, remember the businesses who helped you (and the ass-clowns that kept you down) and reciprocate. Good luck.

  58. dragonvpm says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: I’m sorry about that. It’s kind of sad that it’s actually hard to pick out sarcasm from the sea of “blame the person who got screwed” comments.

    Oh, and always remember to open AND close your tags ;-p

  59. akede2001 says:

    I gotta say– having worked in a bank, people are going to bitch one way or another.

    The two classic ones:

    “The ATM gave me money when I didn’t have it!!!”
    and
    “I NEED to withdrawal more money than I have! “

    If you REALLY want to cut yourself off from what banks refer to as “overdraft protection”, whether through the form of a limit, transfer, or line of credit.. then request that they do so.

    This means they will not let you withdrawal one cent beyond what is available to you. If you have $999 in your account and your rent check for $1000 comes in, it will be returned and you will be charged for NSF. In the end, the fee you pay for checks will likely be the same. However, when it comes to debit cards, you won’t be able to spend below a zero balance.

    And banks usually have a very small “soft” limit.. for example, Washington Mutual (As I remember it being), would allow you to bring your balance to -2.00 without a fee. If you went to -2.01 then you’d be charged a fee. I used that several times when I was pinching pennies and didn’t have a job. This may not be the case anymore, and I learned of this trick when I was an employee there many years ago.

  60. DomZ says:

    @MrGrimes: I completely agree and I also advise against it be it all possible. Unless it is physically impossible for you to get to the bank during their normal hours (which unfortunately it is for some folks) and direct deposit is not an option then I would avoid depositing in an ATM at all costs. Blame the plethora of people committing fraud via ATM deposits for the extended hold, not the bank. A new account depositing a large check via an ATM deposit raises few red flags and I guarantee their funds review department will be extra cautious regarding the matter.

    *** On a side note in the interest of customer service and retention for a long time customer Chase really should refund those fees. I don’t know how Chase works refunds with branch employees but I would attempt a phone call to Chase’s 800 line with a calm explanation of the events first. Call center reps are more likely to give even a partial refund before the branch will. That’s probably the best course of action before an EECB.

  61. Tmoney02 says:

    @nrich239:
    “In no way should the money have been dispensed w/o some form of a confirmation screen stating the insufficient funds and that a fee would be charged.”

    Exactly

    @Ash78:

    Yep, Chevy Chase bank will charge fees for going inside the bank and using the tellers for some checking accounts. You are supposed to use the ATM Outside for all your transactions.

    @aaron8301:
    “Two Words: Credit Union.”

    Exactly. I am not one to blame the victim but it amazes me how many people use banks and then complain about the horrible service they get. Unless you have a lot of money or are a business, banks don’t care about you or keeping your business. Credit Unions are there to focus on people. As a result they provide far better service than banks.

    My credit union provides such great service that even though I am half way across the country from the nearest branch I stick with them. They give me better rates, immediate access to any checks I deposit into any credit union ATM, and have basically let me get away with murder without any fees, just warnings.

  62. humphrmi says:

    Most states have criminal bad check laws. In New York, for instance, you can get up to three months in jail for knowingly writing a bad check. Most of these laws go unenforced except for the most eggregrious offenders and paper-hangers because it’s pretty hard to prove intent against the day-to-day bad check writer (e.g. have to prove that they knew that their balance at that moment was under zero.)

    So, here’s my question to all the lawyers out there, if a bank located in a state that has criminal penalties for bad check writing contributes to the illegal activity by knowingly mis-reporting your balance so that they can rack up fees, are they guilty of contributing to a criminal act?

  63. DomZ says:

    Also, I’d be weary of any ATM balance receipt that doesn’t specifically say “Available Balance: $xxx”. Some banks include your overdraft protection limit in with the balance their ATM provides.

  64. akede2001 says:

    @geoffhazel: Classic case of not keeping a register. Checks can be outstanding for many months. Credit authorizations are valid for about a year before they have to be captured or the merchant risks not being able to collect on that authorization. Don’t rely on banks, statements, and online banking to keep track of your money for you. No bank will advise that you rely on their online services to track your finances– and that’s for a very good reason. They can’t control when people submit their checks or transactions for funding.

    While many Gateways (Authorize.Net, CyberSource, etc) will only allow an authorization code to be used in a capture one month after receiving it; merchants can usually contact their Merchant Service Provider directly and capture the authorized dollar amount with their original authorization code, up to one year after it was received. Keep in mind that the authorization hold you see on your credit or debit card usually only remains there for a few days. After which point, the bank removes the hold against the available balance. This does not mean that the authorization code the merchant received can no longer be used. Because of this, getting overlimit hits on a credit card or overdrafts is very easy. Also, you likely won’t be seeing your restaurant or gasoline purchases hold more than a $1 against your available balance. Then boom, a week later you see a debit for $55 or so that you completely forgot about.

  65. hatrack says:

    @NYGal81:
    I partially agree with your position. Depositing a cheque in an ATM is not the fastest way to do business. Maybe the bank was closed and she thought that would be quicker than returning when it opened.

    Saying that she should have gone into talk to someone when the receipt stated she had access to the full amount of the deposit is stretching it a bit. How was she supposed to know she would need a translator to interpret the receipt?

    I know when I look at the balance on a receipt I assume that’s what’s available in my account. I don’t assume that it’s code for a lesser amount and is only available after incurring several overdraft fees.

    I also like how they debit the account largest transaction to smallest. Making sure that the maximum number of overdraft fees kick in. Kinda’ like how they post debits to an account before they do the credits. Also insuring the maximum amount of fees for overdrafts and nsf cheques.

    Of course if you ask the banks why they do it this way they’ll explain how it’s all for the benefit of the customer.

  66. rbaldwin says:

    Insufficient fund fees are a major product line for any bank. Banks love those “small” transactions for fast food, gas etc. cause each one lands a $35 fee. What I did was got one of those walmart money cards… granted its $4 everytime you load money on them, but you can have direct deposit or check cashing for free and gues what? When your money is gone it’s gone they don’t allow you to take out money you don’t have. I’ve also had no hold times for cashing checks at walmart onto mine.

    It’s worth a try and the $4 fee is a lot less than stacked NSF fees.

  67. MrGrimes says:

    @DomZ: Yeah I would hope the fees get reversed, but more banks are stopping that courtesy or at least limiting it. I think it would be cool to see the hold schedule print out right on the receipt.

  68. Silversmok3 says:

    Not that I am blaming the victim, but three things must be commonly understood about dealing with banks :

    1)Do NOT trust the bank. Period.Assume any and all balances given to you from whatever source (ATM,Teller,etc)are smoke and mirrors unless it matches your own records.

    2)Any large (or even small) deposits should be done in person at a teller ,so as to ensure that your gas/student aid money isn’t lost to a ‘system error’.

    3) Know what kind of check it is and how long the bank can legally hold it.And until the bank releases the hold, budget as if the money never existed.

    Ask me how I know all this…..

  69. BrockBrockman says:

    Echoing sentiments above:

    NEVER deposit a check by ATM (unless you don’t mind waiting forever for access to it).

    ALWAYS deposit by teller; or by an express-deposit box, if available.

    Not blaming the victim – ATMs should clearly tell you if you have insufficient funds and a fee will be assessed – but I just hope this is a lesson learned.

  70. ReverendDrGladhands says:

    I can under the overdraft fees for the debit card purchases, but Chase should never have let her withdraw cash from the ATM if the funds weren’t available. That’s clearly a mistake on their part.

  71. akede2001 says:

    @BrockBrockman: It seems like it should be common knowledge that ATM deposits will generally make the first $100 available to you immediately, and that the remainder will be on hold. Typically, until the next business day when the deposit can be processed. Expect availability of a lower sized check within two business days from the deposit.

    Larger deposits should never be made at the ATM. The bank doesn’t know if you’re deposit toilet paper, cash, a money order, or a standard check. Regardless of the standing on your account, the entire amount will not be available to you (unless it’s $100 or less). The $100 limit is generally a day to day limit, but may be a business day limit in some cases. This means you can’t deposit $500 in $100 increments in five different transactions on the same day. You’ll only get $100 available– and probably make the bank think you’re up to something fishy.

  72. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I regularly get accused of wearing a tinfoil hat when I tell people that I handle 99% of my business in cash. As far as I’m concerned, if I can’t buy something with cash, I don’t need it. About the only transactions I’m ever involved in that aren’t exclusively cash are when I go into the bank to cash a paycheck.

    I didn’t just wake up one day and decide this out of the blue. My paranoia comes from a similar incident where the People’s First Bank of Marianna, Florida charged me twice for the same book of checks. Because of this, I thought I had about $20 more in my account than I did, and wrote three checks on that $20.

    Three hundred dollars in fees later, the bank told me that they’d drop the charges THEY hit me with for their mistake, but the charges levied on me by the businesses I’d written the checks to were my problem, as “their records didn’t go back that far and there was no way to prove that I’d gotten charged twice for those checks.”

    Now, I know this was a lie. But at the age of sixteen, I had neither the experience to recognize it as bullshit, nor the resources to fight People’s First in court. I ended up being about $200 down on the deal. In 1995, $200 was a lot of money to a teenage highschool student who worked part-time as a bag boy at Winn-Dixie.

    TL,DR: “I don’t trust banks and stories like this are why.”

  73. paymogo says:

    @NYGal1: Depositing checks in ATMs might be the slowest way for your check to clear, but it often beats dealing with Chase employees. More than one teller at a Brooklyn Chase has made snarky comments when I deposit in person instead of using the ATM: “I don’t know why you came here when you could just put this in the ATM.”

    @byrdclaw: Agree. Total scam.

  74. Parting says:

    Pleaaase! My credit union DOES NOT GIVE any money if the check is frozed. So no insufficient fund fee! It’s simple.

    Bank just want some of your money for nothing. Simple greed. Get yourself a bank/credit union that offers CUSTOMER SERVICE. You deserve it.

  75. jchabotte says:

    22st?

  76. ohiomensch says:

    @geoffhazel:

    Banks tend to pick and choose what checks they will clear. I have been turned away at a bank with my paycheck because I took it in thursday night and it was dated for Friday. The same bank then cleared a post dated rent check that my landlord presented to cash post dated 6 days later (landlord shows up at the door, need a post dated check today because I am going out of town this weekend and wont be able to stop Friday, but I swear I won’t deposit it till the first) causing over $600 in bounced check fees. Oddly enough, that bank was Chase.

    I have been a starving student. A lot of universities demand payment before classes begin and expect you the student to pay for said classes and “reimburse yourself” when the financial aid check finally comes.

    Once I took a financial aid check to the bank and they put a hold on not only the check but all the funds in the account. Tho the bank did reverse the fees in that case, but it also bounced one of my student loan payments, causing my interest rate to reset, and even tho the bank wrote a letter explaining it was their mistake, would not lower the interest rate. Thanks Sallie Mae.

    She should definately change banks.

  77. Parting says:

    @akede2001: A message on ATM screen would be the MINIMUM courtesy to the customer to inform them.

  78. Gokuhouse says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: Silly him, he should just make more money! If only it were as easy as you make it seem. Maybe this person would rather be semi-poor and still have some time for his family or whatever instead of working 24×7 at some crap hole of a job. There’s nothing wrong with a college student being poor. At least his account wasn’t negative before this hoopla went on.

  79. Pro-Pain says:

    I have dealt with many banks over the years for financial transactions. Chase and BofA were far and away the WORST financial institutions to deal with. They simply don’t give a fuck about anything except selling you something or charging you fees. Do yourself a favor, take your money someplace else. Anyplace else…

  80. GoPadge says:

    I don’t understand why people actually use megabanks. If all the evidence points to megabanks screwing their only source of income every chance they get, why do people keep using them. SWITCH to a Credit Union or a small Local bank. I’ve never had a credit union or small bank screw me out of money. And several times I’ve had the first teller I spoke with refund money I honestly owed them, just to cut me a break when bad things happened.

  81. hegemonyhog says:

    The problem with how banks currently transact balances is that you’re given a stream of numbers and information that often either contradicts itself or is plain erroneous.

    I just got two overdraft fees reversed at my bank (5/3) because I had a pending charge, due to go through the next day, that would have sent my account into overdraft if it had gone through the day before…which it didn’t. Two smaller charges (dinner and some household items at Target) subsequently overdrafted.

    One of the major issues is how banks treat your balance. Ledger vs. available simply gives them two different numbers with which to assess overdrafts. Checks going in clear much slower than checks coming out. You can try to predict how things will interact, but there’s never any guarantee of anything but their trying to get your balance as low as possible as quickly as possible.

  82. NYGal81 says:

    @MrGrimes: Don’t get me wrong…I know banks are all about the fee scale to make their money. I just think people in general need to take more responsibility for knowing what that fee structure is so they don’t get dinged by it out of ignorance, then get all indignant when they get penalized.

    @hatrack: It just seems to me that would have been the “easiest” (relative term, nothing’s easy with a bank…) way to determine if the funds were actually available. Again, this comes back to consumer responsibility–if the bank told her two different things, she needs to do some legwork to figure out what the case is. I’m all for holding businesses accountable for what they can control–but I’m also all for holding consumers being accountable as well.

    @nrich239: Isn’t it in the terms of her banking agreement that if she overdraws her account, she’ll be assessed a fee? The only fee notices I’ve ever seen on ATM’s is the ubiquitous sign that “You’ll be assessed a $X fee if you’re not an X Bank customer.” I’m sure when she opened the account, she acknowledged a statement that overdrawing her account would carry X fee.

    I don’t know about other banks, but when I take money out of mine, I am able to access both my “Ledger Balance” and my “Available Balance.” If Chase doesn’t provide this information, they ought to think about it.

  83. North of 49 says:

    my bank lies to me. On their online statements, I check it and go by what the balance says. But Monday morning, they always do a 2-3 day back process and when I think I’m clear, I end up in overdraft. Pisses me off, cause then they send me nasty letters about it which arrive usually a week or more after I’ve dealt with it. I’ve begged them for a small overdraft and they refuse stating our credit is too poor. this has been going on for 3 and a half years too! If we can find a bank that will do that for us, we’re moving. Its just all our government cheques go to that account and we can’t afford to loose those tax benefits.

  84. roseland says:

    Maybe this will help someone in the future:
    My 2 local banks say ATM deposits aren’t posted till next business afternoon, which is actually 2 days. It does make it into the computer, then someone has to pick it up and take it to main bank where it is physically deposited, as in look at check and deposit etc.
    They told me in person deposits at bank are quickest before 12 noon, if after hours both have night deposit bin in wall of building for businesses — there is a small opening for envelopes — I can put my deposit in there if I use envelope, deposit slip etc. and it will be opened next business morning. Still hold on checks, however it gets looked at by human faster and into the main computer.

  85. trk182 says:

    If you don’t like NSF fees then contact the bank to turn off the “overdraft” protection. I just think it’s weird that one day the ATM shows you the full amount balance and the next day it shows you the available balance? So some random ATM (non-Chase) shows you as having a full balance and the actual Chase ATM shows you’re available balance of negative $. I’d very much like to see the reciepts. My bank takes off fee’s if I go in and complain about them even when it is my fault… next time talk to a male teller and be all sexified men are easier to manipulate.

  86. Trai_Dep says:

    So if a skeevy Deep South check cashing place does it, it’s not okay.
    If a Wall Street bank, without any warning, notification or agreement, does essentially the same thing, nary a whimper?
    It’s usury. I’m not sure what the interest rate Chase is charging their customer for this, but it’s got to be triple digits.
    This beside the point that Chase floats customers’ credits while same-daying their debits, another scam.

  87. alot of the time, i’ll go into my bank, cash the check, then turn around and deposit it as cash, so it’ll go through immediately. Bank policies suck. No way around it.

  88. EasttoMidwest says:

    I think the piece that people are missing is this: banks hold checks for as long as they can because it’s an interest free loan. If they can throw a few charges on you for borrowing your money for seven days, all the better.

    If you were to reverse that check (in other words, write a check from your account to the financial aid account), the money would be taken from your account immediately. Absolute latest would be two days. And yet it doesn’t appear in the other account (actually if the account was large enough, it probably would) for several more days. Often banks will “make available” a portion of the deposit. This is to mollify costumer during this free loan period. This is not 1967. The bank knows immediately that the check will clear.

    (Banks give incentives for people to pay their bills online for exactly this reason. There’s usually a two day gap between when the money disappears from an account and reaches the vendor/utility. Interest free loan for the bank.)

  89. tralfamadorian says:

    Their ad used to say “you have a friend at Chase.” Now it’s more like “at Chase be very careful or we’ll rob you”

    Wachovia (far from perfect) shows balance and available balance.

    It is surely legal for Chase to do all this, but it’s not right. A customer should not have to take a course on banking rip-offs before dealing with a bank; at least these little details should be explained when opening an account.

    They should do the right thing and take off these charges, it’s not like it costs them much to process them (closer to 39 cents than $39).

    As noted above, they know the check from a local U is good almost immediately.

  90. RosalbaManius says:

    @Ash78:
    1. Wells fargo charges me $2 to talk to a banker on the phone.

    2. Live tellers can be incompetent.

    3. I’ve attempted to actually read all the fine print.
    It’s not the intent of the financial institutions for us
    to understand any of it. No that’s where they can
    legally hide and hide behind the BS they pull at
    their depositors expense.

    4. Its good to warn the victim, but bad to blame them
    for the bank’s load of BS.

    5. If I’ve been bitten, I’ll be more cautious next time.

  91. kabuk1 says:

    I feel Johanna’s pain. Chase has bent me over more than once, in fact in very similar ways to this. It seems their favorite thing to do is take your money, LIE to your face about how much is really available so you rack up astronomical IF fees, and then not give a shit & spout practiced lines when you ask about it. They have scared me off of banking forever. She should have just taken that check to whatever bank whose name is printed on it & had them cash it for her. Then the funds really WOULD have been available immediately. I will never bank again.

  92. radiochief says:

    The bank is culpable.

    Please you now have to ‘opt out’ of a transaction even though it says funds available…?! Out of courtesy, the bank should give transaction overages…

    No mention of the ATM said on screen. I know some ancient ATMs can only display ‘current balance’ and ‘transaction amount’, but on-screen they will also display ‘available balance’. Newer ATMs this is standard…

    For a check that big, I’d suggest going to a teller and depositing it. At least then, they can point out how much will be available now and when the expected amount will clear.

    My bank is BOA (not by my choice), but their policy is the first $100.00 of a deposit is available immediately. Frankly, I am not sure if that is true if you have less than a $100.00 balance. And, if I am correct (for ATM deposits), that $100.00 is firm even if you have more deposits on that same day…

  93. JiminyChristmas says:

    Just a couple comments: I have made all of my checking account deposits via ATM or direct deposit for at least 7 or 8 years and have never once had a problem with lost deposits or anything like that.

    5-7 days to process a check? That is just BS; it’s the bank gaming the “float” with your money. Also, my ATM receipts always show two lines: available balance, and total balance. If your bank’s ATMs don’t distinguish between the two, that’s lame. So yes, change banks.

    I’m all for credit unions, but the next best thing is a community bank. I have one account with a local bank that has all of two branches. I’ve never had a problem with them but, if I did, there aren’t 12 layers of bureaucracy between me and someone capable of fixing things.

  94. FLConsumer says:

    @geckospots:I’m not sure where the original poster is from, but the electric bill for my old apartment (all 800 sq ft of it) used to run about $150/mo. Terrible insulation, cheap windows, and a shot air con that management wouldn’t replace. The building was only 10 years old at that time. Yes, I turned off the air con when I wasn’t home. Bills were much higher in the wintertime with electric heat.

    @Tmoney02: I find the “find a credit union” posts humorous. It’s my credit union that nickels & dimes me for everything. For example:
    Credit Union:
    Money Order – $1
    Certified Check – $2.00
    Wire transfer (before 2pm) $30
    Wire transfer (after 2pm) $40
    Foreign currency order – $10
    Replacement ATM card (lost/stolen/worn-out) – $5
    Bulk Deposit of 30 or more items – $4.50
    ACH payment $5
    Safe Deposit boxes ($15-$70/year)
    Checks: $20

    Wachovia:
    Money Order – $0
    Certified Check – $0
    Wire transfer (before 2pm) $0
    Wire transfer (after 2pm) $0
    Foreign currency order – $0
    Replacement ATM card (lost/stolen/worn-out) – $0
    Bulk Deposit of 30 or more items – $0
    ACH payment $0
    Safe Deposit boxes $0
    Checks: $0

    And the credit union is much slower than Wachovia when it comes to processing checks. The only two advantages the credit union offers are higher interest rates and their drive-thru window is open until 6pm.

  95. miguelggarcia says:

    @MrGrimes:

    Totally agree with you!!! It is much easier to do this through the Drive Trough and have it “cashed and deposited” that way, your account gets credited the same day. When you process a check through ATM there’s a bunch of moving parts that you don’t want to mess with:
    -The ATM is checked on the next business day, in the meantime, your account’s available balance does not reflect the check deposited.
    -If the check is from a different bank, it will be “processed” and that could take a number of business days (as noted above).
    -The check is “misplaced” by the people who process the ATM deposits, leading to more possible delays.

  96. Nicole125 says:

    There is a difference between “Balance” and “Available”.

  97. DeltaPurser says:

    Tell you what: I feel for ya’… but if I had $33 in my account, you bet your ass I would make sure to deposit that check with a teller. I think it’s fair to say that everybody knows an ATM deposit = automatic hold.

    Take some responsibility here, will ‘ya? Maybe check your balance online, or with a teller before you go spending money you don’t have?

    Tough lesson to learn. One you probably won’t repeat again…

  98. PeteyNice says:

    @FLConsumer: Blasphemy! Don’t you know that Credit Unions cure cancer, prevent global warming and are nothing but sweetness and light?

    Wachovia’s free checking product is excellent. If you do not need to make branch visits Charles Schwab has a tremendous checking product as well. There is no reason to let your bank screw you. There are lots of choices out there.

  99. Tank says:

    @stinerman: the phrase – “ATM Machine” has been approved by the
    Department of Redundancy Department.

  100. FLConsumer says:

    @DeltaPurser: While Johanna could possibly be blamed for this one, the fact that the ATM showed the balance would make it reasonable to assume it’s available unless otherwise noted by the ATM.

    @PeteyNice: I still prefer to have a real B&M bank for my primary accounts. Haven’t had an issue with them yet in 15+ years, but in case I do, I’d much rather have a local branch (or better, banker) to meet with face-to-face. It also comes in handy when dealing with people who have their bank accounts with credit unions and other banks who nail them with fees for wire transfers & such that make archaic things such as checks and paper money a necessity. I’m still waiting for the day when direct electronic payments become the norm rather than the exception. Until then, I guess there’s credit cards.

  101. joellevand says:

    This happened to me with Bank of America on numerous occasions. I learned my lesson and switched to a small, local bank which then screwed me in the ass, so I ended up with a small regional bank (Sovereign) which has free checking and 8am to 8pm Mon-Sat hours, so I can talk to a real human being and know when my check will and won’t hit the account.

    That said, it is a very painful lesson that a lot of us learn in college: use your ledger. The ATM is not accurate. It should be, but it isn’t. Period.

  102. sleepydumbdude says:

    Get this once I went to deposit a check for 1400 and asked for a money order for 550. My account only had 400 in it. Anyways the teller takes my check and gives me a money order for 550. Then after she hands it to me she said, “by the way you’re overdrafted” which she couldn’t tell me before? Took almost 2 months for me to get back the 35 dollars they charged for it. My dad wrote two speerate letters to the head of 5/3rd and someone from the office called two months later and said it was taken care of.
    If she would’ve told me before I would’ve been like “fine whatever” and just went and took it to a check cashing place because I’d rather give them my 35 dollars then those asses.

  103. plustax says:

    Yeah sorry, I haven’t done this before but it’s a blame the victim comment. Banking can be complicated but they are not going to risk you running off with a couple thousand dollars they might not be able to recover thus the holds. It sucks but you have to play by their rules they have at that moment and it’s not up to them to spell them out to you each time you make a deposit. I’m sure since the OP signed up for the new account two months prior there was materials provided to him that stated the terms of use of the account. I’ve been frustrated many times by the delays in deposits hitting the bank and checks clearing the bank at lightning speeds. Let it be a lesson learned to read the fine print and verify your balances thoroughly if you are unsure.

  104. squikysquiken says:

    The only thing I find distasteful in this story is charging multiple NSF fees on a single day on multiple small transactions. This story is unclear as to how/why the OP thought her check had cleared. It doesn’t say the second time if the OP was using a Chase ATM, how it checked the balance, if it was a bank ATM or some standalone mall kiosk (can affect whether it gets real-time data) etc… etc…

    On a side note, Chase branded ATMs shows me both available and current balance on screen and on the receipt in my area.

    And finally, when/if banks ever clamp down to only give you access to money when you have it in your account, we would just get another set of people annoyed that they were denied access to “their” money.

  105. fjordtjie says:

    the bank needs to warn, or at least supply easy access to the available balance for such situations. but they won’t do that, because why would they spare themselves the overdraft fee profits?

  106. Buran says:

    @kellsbells: Except the bank’s OWN ATM showed the funds AS AVAILABLE.

    God damn, even when the customer does everything possible to do the right thing, idiots around here still say it’s their fault.

  107. hegemonyhog says:

    @Buran:

    I’m waiting for the story where nobody can blame the consumer.

    K-Mart is probably going to have to dump a truckload of human feces on a bus of mentally disabled children first. Even then, the school shouldn’t have been driving near a K-Mart.

  108. FLConsumer says:

    @hegemonyhog:Isn’t that practically KMart’s business model? Granted, they charge for the human feces and call it “products”, but same difference.

  109. Buran says:

    @hegemonyhog: I’ve seen some where it’s practically impossible (this one is really close) and as you can see it happens anyway

  110. agb2000 says:

    Fuck the EECBs.

    Contact the Attorney General’s office, and also sue them yourself separately.

    Include not just the money they stole, but a bill for your time they stole as well. Actually, with that “have a great day comment” — tack on intentional infliction of emotional distress. :)

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  111. DomZ says:

    @Buran: The story did not specifically state if the balance was marked as available or current (ledger).

  112. Buran says:

    @DomZ: Every ATM receipt I’ve gotten says “available balance”. And a story of someone trying to show that they did exercise diligence and did everything possible would certainly have mentioned if there was any indication to the contrary, anyway.

    People, lay off the victims who clearly don’t deserve it, already. How many more bitchslaps is it going to take from the site admins for the BS to stop?

  113. LucianaLibo says:

    Join a credit union and leave the big banks behind you.
    They are not in business to serve the account holders;
    they are in business to make money for the share holders.
    Unless you own stock in Chase; get out; and I’d say the same
    for all the other robber banks around … Bank of America, Wells Fargo,
    Citibank … they are all the same. Policies are designed to
    make sure you pay the most fees, not the least.


    Jeff V.
    Los Angeles CA

  114. spunky_redhead15 says:

    i totally understand how this could have happend. i bank at wells fargo and the only way i know what i have for a “pending balance” and an “available balance” is by looking at my account online. the atm says nothing. and my debit card will also continue to dispense “free” money up to a certain amount before they turn me off and start racking up major fees.

    as for the “blame the victim” people…oh my god. if you were in a similar situation, or if you have been in one, i’m sure you probably would have done/did the same thing.

  115. seamer says:

    A similar thing happened to us with Wells and Fargo. Some transactions came in over a weekend we’d forgotten about, they were processed in some sort of haphazard order that gave W&F the greatest amount of fees…After a quick email, someone at W&F reversed a lot of the charges.

    We did screw up what we thought we had left, and the bank reversed more fees than we thought they would (good for us!). Wasn’t too long later that the system was updated to show almost in real-time the pending incoming charges as well.

    /meandered

  116. strathmeyer says:

    “On Wednesday the 22st”

    “The next day, the 22nd”

    Oh, no! The story is already full of hole!

    /almost

  117. xDimMaK says:

    @NYGal81:
    “It’s your responsibility, as a consumer, to know how your bank works.”
    Actually, it should be the banks responsibility to inform their account holders how it works. We shouldn’t have to resort to trial and error to figure it out. All relevant information should be immediately available. For example:

    “Johanna’s being able to take money out of an ATM without the funds available is not the bank’s fault–just like you can use a credit card beyond its stated limit, if you’re willing to pay “over the limit” fees.”
    Would it not make sense for the ATM to at least inform you that you have insufficient funds, and that proceeding with the transaction will result in additional fees?

    The fact that the ATM didn’t distinguish the difference between the ledger balance and available balance and charged these fees without her knowledge or confirmation puts the bank at fault, not Johanna’s. No amount of “she should have known better” or “well, *I* know better” will change that.

  118. glenndo says:

    I would say that there are very real times when a credit card becomes handy, if you have a little self discipline. This would have been one of those times. She could have used a CC to cover her daily expenses until her check went through.

  119. Difdi says:

    Most bank customers lack any means of determining the status of their accounts, other than to ask their bank. If someone makes a $3100 deposit, and the next day the bank tells them they have $3100 in the account, then they have no choice but to trust their bank. How would you go about asking your bank if they are in fact lying? If they were lying the first time you asked about your accounts, how do you know they’re not lying if you ask again? Why would you believe you should ask that in the first place?

    Johanna deposited a check. Chase *told* her that the money was available when she asked, through the ATM, what her balance was. Chase told her something that was not true, and the circumstances surrounding the incident suggest it may have been intentional on their part, to generate fee-based profits (why else report the ledger balance but not the available balance on a printed ATM receipt?)

    I’m not a lawyer, but to me, this sounds suspiciously like fraud on the part of the bank. Johanna acted in good faith throughout, and trusted that her bank would do the same in return. And because Chase did not act in good faith, Chase now claims Johanna owes them money. If I were Johanna, I’d be ready in case the EECB fails. to go directly to the regulatory agencies, if not a lawyer and a lawsuit. This sort of behavior by Chase shouldn’t be tolerated.

  120. NYGal81 says:

    @xDimMaK:

    The banks DO inform customers of how their fee structures work. I just opened a new bank account, and immediately got a package full of information about what I can expect from that bank in terms of fees, transactions, transaction limits, holds, etc. I happen to reference it when I have to make an “unusual” transaction–i.e. a transaction I don’t usually make. It’s called personal responsibility.

    I fully agree that banks run some ridiculous fee policies on their customers. I’m not saying they’re totally in the clear on things, but if you sign up for the account, you do yourself a disservice to remain ignorant to the finer points of how your money is moving into and out of the account. It is, after all, your money. Shouldn’t you have a vested interest in making sure you know how it’s being handled?

    I’m sure my comments are being lumped in the “blame the victim” category. Fine. Whatever. I have no problem with asking people to be a little more accountable/responsible etc., rather than copping to an ignorance plea. Maybe my standards a set a little too high…

  121. xredgambit says:

    Same thing has happened to me, kinda. I Deposited a studen loan check into my chase account and I understood it would be held. Well I also had to put in my Deposit check for an apt. I think it was a couple of days later when I put in the deposit. Well, I get a call from the Apt saying my check bounced. I thought, crap the check still hasn’t cleared, my own fault.
    Well anyway the next day I check and the check finally went through. Also on my account online it said the money was in my account the day I deposited it. So I go an complain to the bank and have them check my account and get them to reverse the fees that Chase charged me. Then the fees of a MO as well as the fees from the Apt complex. It was simple and it looked in their system that the check went through and I had the money, but they bounced the check.

    So maybe check your account online after the check goes through and check the date it is accepted. You may be able to get most, if not all fees reversed if it does the same.

  122. qtip4761 says:

    One thing you have to realize about depositing through an ATM is that the bank also needs to protect themself. What if badguy deposits an empty envelope and enters $5,000 as the deposit amount. The ATM has no way of knowing how much the check was actually for, so, until a live person can verify the amount, you’re not getting the full amount of money.

    I used to work the ATM at a bank and here’s how it works:
    Wed: You deposit a check in the ATM.
    That check sits there until the next day when the teller unloads it. (Thursday)
    The check then sits in the bank all day until a courier comes to take the deposits to the bank’s HQ. (Possibly a half day if it’s a busy branch.)
    The check is processed that night as though you deposited it on Thursday.
    You have a “new” account, so let’s assume an optimistic 2-day hold on the check. (Generally 4 for new accounts.)
    Friday is now day 1. (The first “Full” business day after processing the check.)
    Saturday and Sunday aren’t business days, so they don’t count.
    Monday is day 2.
    By Tuesday morning, all of your money should be available.

    I know it sucks, but all banks work like this. Although, I do agree that the ATM shouldn’t have given you the money if it wasn’t available, or it should have at least warned you repeatedly.

    Good luck to you, but switching banks won’t do anything but maybe make you feel better.

    - Jason

  123. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    A friend is waiting on an IRA distribution as the beneficiary after a death. She has been a Chase customer for over 20 years (well, MBank, Bankone, then Chase) and probably won’t be much longer. A month is a long time when there are lots of estate expenses.

  124. chrisjames says:

    So she didn’t know how ATMs work. Yeah, strike one for the consumer. We get that everyone needs to be fully aware of what their responsibilities are. You can easily dodge a situation like this by being fully aware of what is happening with your money.

    But in this case, the ATM was lying. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to write this off because “you shouldn’t trust an ATM” is missing the point. Who or what can you trust, then? Is there any infallible source that will fully inform you of what is happening? Even live tellers don’t have all the information.

    What if you are being told by one source that your funds are available, and another says it’s not? With two or more sources of information playing against each other, the bank gets to dump all accountability on the customer. Whether Chase did this on purpose or on accident, or even if it’s just a technical limitation, this practice is despicable. In this respect, lying to the customer, no matter what the reason, is criminal. The consumer needs to be aware, but that’s simply not possible when faced with false information.

    If the ATMs can’t be trusted, then either mark the ATM receipts stating that the funds shown may not be what’s available, or don’t show the balance at all. Stop lying to us and we’ll pay whatever fees you want.

  125. DomZ says:

    @Buran: Even if it did say “available balance” its possible that a hold was placed the next morning by funds review for setting off the red flags I listed previously. I’m not trying to bash the consumer in the least. Its not the consumer’s fault nor the bank’s fault in this instance for the hold (the fees, totally Chase’s fault for not refunding them in good faith). It is the fault of the individuals that commit ATM deposit fraud which forces the institutions to be more careful regarding check deposits on new accounts. A few bad apples spoil it for the whole bunch.

    Example: Person makes deposit with bad check, bank makes some of the funds available, person makes a deposit at another ATM, bank makes some of those funds available, repeat. By the end of day two the person has already beat the bank out of a considerable sum (whatever the calendar day ATM withdrawal limit is times two days). Do you at least understand WHY the check was put on hold now?

    The consumer didn’t do anything wrong other than not being completely informed and the bank should return those fees and look closer into releasing the hold in the interest of retaining a long time customer.

  126. MrGrimes says:

    Johanna deposited a check. Chase *told* her that the money was available when she asked, through the ATM, what her balance was.

    im going to regret saying this…but there is no way that ATM gave her an available balance of $3,100. Sorry.

  127. atroxodisse says:

    The system is designed to screw you. I had a similar problem with Bank of America. On several occasions I ended up with huge overdraft fees because a credit card transaction disappeared from my balance because the merchant hadn’t submitted it before it timed out. The result is you think you have more money than you do. Voila, overdraft fees galore. And because the larger transactions go through first, you get an overdraft fee for each tiny little purchase. They advertise small overdraft fees to lure you in but the catch is after the first one they jack up the overdraft fee to $30. I switched to a Credit Union which has a steady $14 overdraft fee no matter how many times it happens. I use to have an account with a Canadian bank when I lived in Canada. The balance was always correct at the ATM and never gave you money when you didn’t have any.

  128. xDimMaK says:

    @NYGal81:
    For something like an ATM transaction, you shouldn’t have to memorize the policies. It’s not unreasonable for there to be a confirmation screen informing you that your account has insufficient funds and that continuing with the transaction will result in additional fees.

    And if the story is to be taken at face value, the ATM even informed her that she had a balance of $3100. It wasn’t irresponsible of her to act based on that [mis]information.

    @MrGrimes:
    Why is there no way the ATM told her she had a balance of $3100? Do you have anything to back up that claim, or are you just grasping at straws to find a way to blame the customer?

  129. parrotuya says:

    All the big major banks suck. Close your account and join a credit union. When they send you junk mail, save it up and mail to the CEO.

  130. cyberscribe says:

    Anybody that gives a bank total control of their money is, to put it bluntly, an utter fool. It really is just as simple as that.

    Keep your cash in your pocket (or in a tin can buried in your back yard, if need be) and you won’t ever have these kinds of problems.

    A dollar bill in the hand is worth MORE than a million in the bank, IF you can’t access a single penny of that money when YOU need it.

  131. WTRickman says:

    This exact thing happened to me a few years ago at Bank of America. The only difference was that I had a bit of money in the bank.. probably 200-300 dollars. I deposited my financial aid check for 6000 dollars, and proceeded to pay off a Bank of America Credit Card balance to the tune of 2400 dollars. Well, they honored the payment to BoA (of course), and then proceeded to bounce checks all over creation. If they had not honored the 2400 payment to the credit card, nothing else would have bounced.

  132. mizmoose says:

    Gee, my first “blame the OP” comment :/.

    I learned the “Don’t trust the ATM slip balance” lesson Oh, Geeez, about 25 years ago. ATMs were far more primitive than they are today, as were the computers they were tied to (if they were at all), and they’d merrily pump lots of $20 bills at you while the bank actually had a hold on your money.

    Then you’d go into the bank and they’d smile, and shrug, and say, “We have the right to hold your money. If you don’t like it take your account elsewhere.” And when you asked your friends if any of their banks didn’t do this crap, they’d all smile knowingly and laugh, and say, “Oh, that happened to me, too. Live and learn!”

    *sigh*

  133. mzs says:

    Something’s not right. I have never lived in a place where I could pay the electric bill with cash. Plus if you are so close to the limits on funds, why not simply pay by check, it will be a day or two before the check gets processed, days in your favor.

  134. BAF says:

    @cyberscribe: Don’t forget that a dollar bill isn’t worth any more than a bank statement showing you have a dollar in the bank. It’s all representative of the money. If you really want to wear a tin foil hat, take all your money out in gold.

  135. Anonymous says:

    @cyberscribe:
    “A dollar bill in the hand is worth MORE than a million in the bank, IF
    you can’t access a single penny of that money when YOU need it.”

    Actually, a dollar bill in the hand is really no more than the paper it
    is printed on. If you really want to wear a tin foil hat, take all your
    money out in gold.

  136. Nofsdad says:

    @byrdclaw:
    Exactly. It doesn’t matter that this is the “normal” way banks do business. The point is that banks build these flipping traps deliberately. knowing full damned well that a certain percentage of their customers are going to fall into them.

    Maybe some of you bank/corporate shills that lurk here for no other reason than to discredit people who complain about your cruddy companies and their shyster “services” could explain why banking has become so flipping complicated that an ordinary worker bee needs at least a damned four year degree in economics just to let them use your money anymore.

    This lady was not attempting to use the damned bank’s money… she was attempting to access HER money. How dare a flipping bank invite her to deposit her money in their bank and then tell her she can’t have immediate access to it?

    THAT is the nub of this problem, no matter how many lines of leagalese and financialese and ESPECIALLY your damned self serving company regulations you guys spew trying to justify it. All you’re trying to do is justify hanging on to her money for as long as you can and getting every nickel’s worth of gain from it you can before you even start to let her have it back. I’ve had MY damned bank do that on checks that THEY THEMSELVES issued, for crap’s sake.

    You can post a freaking debit against the account within 15 minutes of me using my ATM card, you can have insufficient funds fees hanging all over an account within 24 hours of a 35 cent overdraft, and you COULD damned well clear a freaking check deposit in 24 flipping hours also. It all runs on the same flipping machines, right?

  137. Nofsdad says:

    @mzs:
    Maybe she uses the cash to purchase money orders to pay her bills? I know a few people who still do that. It doesn’t make a pinch of monkey crap’s worth of difference why SHE wanted HER money now, does it?

  138. Nofsdad says:

    @WTRickman:
    And you notice none of the OP blamers are even mentioning that little “largest to smallest” aspect of doing business with the shyster banks. What the HELL is wrong with posting the transactions in the order they were done? What justifies posting them according to size in the first place and ESPECIALLY largest to smallest, if the flipping point of the whole thing is customer service?