UPDATE: Bank Of America Has No Idea Whether It Treats Parking Meter Payments As A Cash Advance

Remember our reader who tried to use his Bank of America debit card on a parking meter and was charged a $10 cash advance fee? One of our commenters did a little investigation on our story and got two conflicting responses from Bank of America.

In two comments to the original post, reader Varro reports that a normal CSR confirmed that Bank of America treats parking meter payments as a cash advance, but when a city employee contacted Bank of America’s government relations rep, the rep dismissed the cash advance charge as an “error.” Below are the two comments:

A response to my e-mail to B of A:
Thank you for your inquiry dated 6/29/08 regarding (your card). We are happy to assist you. You may access cash with your credit card up to the credit line; however please keep in mind of your transaction fee associated along with each cash transaction.

Bank of America will now convert charges from parking meters, court fines, and parking tickets into a cash charge. The transaction fee for each cash transaction is three percent with a minimum of $10.00 and no maximum cap.

We appreciate the opportunity to assist you online. Should you have any further inquiries, please e-mail us again. Thank you for choosing Bank of America. We value your business and look forward to serving your banking needs.

Varro asked a reporter friend to check it out further:

But here’s what happened when Ms. Ruiz talked to a City of Portland employee who then contacted B of A…:

(B of A Rep) said that there was an issue early this year whereby some municipalities were encoding parking meter transactions incorrectly. The issue was identified and corrected by May 5.

Bank of America does not charge a cash advance transaction fee to use parking meters. Parking meter payments are treated as purchases. There is no associated fee for this transaction.

Below is the actual statement she said that their Government Banking Merchant Group sent her regarding the payment of parking tickets:

“Bank of America does not consider payments of parking tickets as cash advance fees. There was a coding error for a brief period in April and we worked with the District of Columbia to correct it and credited any fees back to our customers.”

As far as we know, there was no such problem in Portland.

What’s the real story here, Bank of America? Was this a snafu or was it intentional?

(Photo: mbeldyk and dM.nyc™)

Comments

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  1. Hawkins says:

    It still doesn’t seem clear to me.

    The question is: will B of A charge you $10 to use your debit card on a parking METER?

    B of A’s Government Banking Bla Bla says: “Bank of America does not consider payments of parking tickets as cash advance fees” (emphasis added).

    Not the same.

  2. SCAdvanced says:

    @Hawkins: See the paragraph above that one

    Bank of America does not charge a cash advance transaction fee to use parking meters. Parking meter payments are treated as purchases. There is no associated fee for this transaction.

  3. MercuryPDX says:

    Very odd they treat it as a cash advance. The SmartMeters in Portland treat it like a regular debit/credit card purchase:
    [tinyurl.com]

  4. Hawkins says:

    True, but that’s not the “official statement.”

    I sure hope you’re right. But I still smell a weasel.

  5. Shadowman615 says:

    @Hawkins: Huh — That’s interesting. The second answer seems to be confusing parking meters with parking tickets. Now I’m confused as to what they’re actually talking about there.

  6. varro says:

    And also I would like Amy J. Ruiz of the Portland Mercury to get credit for calling B of A and the Portland Dept. of Transportation to investigate this further.

  7. Nice. “Everything is working normally. Please enjoy your $10 fee.”

    Later, “You’re recording this? Oh, it was just a mistake. It’ll be fixed soon.”

    I’m not even sure which one to trust.

  8. dorianh49 says:

    Sweet pic. It’d be cool if there was another Meter to the left that read EPIC.

  9. varro says:

    @Shadowman615: I asked them about both meter charges in the SmartMeters and payment of citations – Ms. Ruiz’s inquiry to the city addressed both.

  10. Tmoney02 says:

    Isn’t this something that consumerist should actually do a little investigating about? Ben requesting an official answer from the PR Director or something.

    Does the consumerist no longer do any investigating and relies purely on tips now?

  11. Ein2015 says:

    Sounds like they’re just trying to get away with it where they can…

  12. zerj says:

    Yeah, I pay my hard earned money to subscribe to the consumerist :).

    Seriously though the tip seems to be in the form of a formal email response. If it were in the own words of the tipster I’d agree but attaching an email from the company seems like proof enough for me

  13. SadSam says:

    Might the answer vary from city to city (depending on which city refuses to pay credit card transaction fees)?

  14. Tmoney02 says:

    @zerj: The problem is that the customer service email and the BA Rep say totally different things. So isn’t logical that Ben or one of the other editors get on the phone or executive email BA and get an official, once and for all answer? And if It turns out the BA Rep is right, have BA agree to refund any advance fees charged to customers?

    Kotaku and other gawker sites have no problem using their press credentials and connections to get official answers so why not consumerist? Also consumerist used to do investigations but haven’t in a long time so I am curious if they stopped doing that, a simple question.

  15. petrarch1611 says:

    in portland i like to put a thousand of those stickers all over my windows and park without paying. There’s no way the meter maid is gonna check every single sticker for today’s date.

  16. MercuryPDX says:

    @varro: No disrespect intended, but it’s pretty damn sad if The (sn)Oregonian and the (Ho-Humbian)Columbian, aka the legitimate newspapers, don’t want to touch this but the [www.portlandmercury.com]” target=”_blank”>Mercury does.

    ( Wm.â„¢ Steven Humphrey FTW)

  17. MercuryPDX says:

    gah… link error not in your favor… collect $200:

    [www.portlandmercury.com]

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    @petrarch1611: You’re welcome to mine. I always put my “unused time” back on the machine for someone to take. Apparently “they” HATE that.

  19. @MercuryPDX: Piggybacking-prevention is one the things cities like about those machines. Good work.

  20. MercuryPDX says:

    @Michael Belisle: I do admit I giggle when I see a “meter-person” zealously tearing “Unused Time” tickets off the machine. They want that $24 fine so badly….

  21. Tank says:

    So my question is this: If the OP was charged a $10 fee for for a transaction at a parking meter, but BoA says they treat them as purchases, did BoA get TWO fees? (The discount the “merchant” is charged, and the cash advance fee OP paid.)

  22. g4lt says:

    how is a “cash advance fee” being charged on a DEBIT card? BoA DOES have fees for pulling from your debit, but they’re listed as “non-BoA ATM fee”, and are $4. I suspect there’s more to this story than meets the eye, such as it ain’t a debit card

  23. krispykrink says:

    “Remember our reader who tried to use his Bank of America debit card on a parking meter and was charged a $10 cash advance fee?”

    Yeah, it’s time to go to court. No way in hell does one get charge a cash advance fee for a DEBIT card!

    Someone’s making up some BullSh*t here.

  24. Is this just a Portland thing, or a nationwide BofA policy? I use my BofA debit card to pay for parking meters all the time and I’ve never gotten any kind of ridiculous fee. (And honestly, of all the cities expected to tack on extra fees to basic services, New Orleans is at the top of my list.)

  25. varro says:

    @krispykrink: This article should have said “credit” card instead of debit card – the original article said that Gary was charged the cash advance fee for using his *credit* card in a parking meter.

  26. krispykrink says:

    @varro: Thanks for the clarification.

    This is why I’m glad I paid off all credit debts I have and now only live on cash. I’m just sick of the credit game anymore. And it is a game, especially since you’re now given a “score” arcade style. Banks are lined up ready to topple dominoes style left and right. While I doubt BoA is going to fail, they’re going to become so overhanded with fees, you’ll soon be charged to do anything.

  27. brian25 says:

    Sounds like a problem with the parking meter’s credit card server processing software… not bank of america. The software incorrectly flagged the transaction.

  28. barty says:

    Why, oh why, do individuals keep patronizing Fee of America?