Bank Screws Man For $900, He Tells Others, Ultimately Costing Bank $100,000 In Lost Business

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and when it comes to the bank who jacked him for $900, Justin is a master chef.

When he was a teenager, he got two overdrafts refunded, so a manager put a note on his account saying not to refund any more overdrafts. Years later, the bank put his deposit in the wrong account, causing him to overdraft by $500. Even though it was their mistake, they wouldn’t fix it because of the notes on his account. After he got sent to collections, ultimately costing him $900 total, Justin plotted to persuade everyone he knew to switch away from this bank.

This is the letter Justin wrote to them after he hit his goal of turning $100,000 of business away from this bank, just by telling them his story. He got 11 people to leave, 2 people to refi elsewhere, and successfully discourage 22 people from joining the bank.

Justin is going to write them another letter when he hits his next goal: turning away $1,000,000 in business.

A little over 3 years ago my bank f*cked me royally. Today I wrote them an email letting them know what I’ve been up to… [Reddit] (Thanks to Rob!)

Comments

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  1. ktetch says:

    Nice. score one for customer focus over short-term profit

    • sleze69 says:

      Sounds like a troll post to me:

      1. No real details on how he calculated $100k
      2. No mention of the bank

      Telling his story isn’t libel. Otherwise, Consumerist would have been SLAPPed many times.

      • craptastico says:

        one of the comments to the original story mentions Bank of America. don’t know if that necessarily means anything though.

    • magus_melchior says:

      Banks largely buy into the idea that even if poor service results in lost customers, there are hundreds, nay thousands, willing to be new customers– the so-called “churn” model of customer service that tells business that loss leaders like CS can safely be pared down to the $20 call center in India.

      This letter will be laughed at until this guy gets enough momentum against the bank to seriously affect shareholders’ investment return. That means billions of dollars of lost revenue, because the big banks get their income from investments in things like derivatives. In order to do that, he’ll have to convince existing customers to leave en masse.

      Sorry, but unless he outs the bank and makes this viral, his $1m threat is meaningless.

      • magus_melchior says:

        Oh, and if he does manage to kill off billions in business, I imagine the bank in question will sue him before they reconsider their customer service policies. Corporate culture is that screwed up.

  2. chocolate1234 says:

    That’s awesome!

  3. Djwei says:

    I can just see the last two lines of his email.

    “Guess what I’m cooking up?
    $1,000,000 in lost revenue!”

  4. digital0verdose says:

    What bank? Maybe we can get the hive mind to jump on this ship.

    • jimstoic says:

      Yeah, I’d like to know as well.

    • doobiewondersmoke says:

      I think it’s BoA. That seems to be the general consensus in the comment thread below the letter linked in the story above.

      • jumpycore says:

        sounds like what they did to me. i had a $100 overdraft which is now over 1,500 in collections.

      • DigTheFunk says:

        The only reason I would think it’s not BoA is because of the way his sentence in the letter is structured: “[…] from ******** bank.” “[…] from Bank of America bank.” just doesn’t sound right.

    • keith4298 says:

      Why redact the name of the bank? Clearly he wants to get the word out!

      • DigTheFunk says:

        I would imagine he’s afraid that if he gets the whole of the internet involved(which doesn’t even seem to be necessary, amazingly!), he may be open to litigation attempts for slander or something. I don’t think it would be true, as long as he doesn’t embellish, but I’m sure they’d try in these sue-happy times.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      After reading the link, I’m confused. If you are intent on driving business away from bank *********, you MIGHT want to tell people what bank it is.

    • Sleepingbear says:

      What bank? Any bank without “Credit Union” in its name.

  5. Sparty999 says:

    best way to get back at companies… bravo

  6. fatediesel says:

    It’s interesting that there’s absolutely no mention of how he calculates the lost business.

    • KhaiJB says:

      the 2 refi’s for starters. with the right amounts that can get close to $100K right there.

      • ShadowFalls says:

        Then again, many banks would love the opportunity to get some loans off the books and can use the money more now than over the string of 30 years.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Probably by calculating how much money people would have moved to the bank he was trying to get them to avoid. After all, if Justin is on such personal terms with his friends that they can freely discuss banking and other financial matters and they would listen to his experience, I’m pretty sure they’d be okay with telling him how much money they were thinking of moving to the new bank.

    • DariusC says:

      True comment #1. Where are the stats?!

      Also, I hear a defamation lawsuit coming.

      Also also, this was posted on reddit, known for spreading legends and fake stuff… there are no details.. no last name to look up, no bank name, nothing!

      I call a fake.

      • Skellbasher says:

        There’s zero defamation here.

      • VeganPixels says:

        Go on …

      • dolemite says:

        How do you figure defamation? He told his story to other people and asked them not to bank there. It’s illegal to have an opinion based on true facts?

        • DariusC says:

          The bank disagrees. When you make baseless accusations, you risk a lawsuit.

          • digital0verdose says:

            What bank?

          • coren says:

            What baseless accusation? As far as I can tell he’s just representing the facts of his case and then asking people to consider going elsewhere.

          • slappysquirrel says:

            If he is just making up a story about a bank screwing him over and it isn’t true, it is a baseless accusation.

            If he’s telling the truth that he has the deposit slip showing that he put the money in the right place and his statements back him up that the bank deposited the money in the wrong place and then charged him for their actions, it isn’t defamation at all.

            You are allowed to truthfully complain when a business doesn’t treat you well.

            • human_shield says:

              I think the idea is that even if it’s an open and shut case and there’s obviously no defamation, he still needs to hire a lawyer and go to court, which will cost a lot of money.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        LOL. Because defamation lawsuits are so easy to win in the US.

        • Shadowfax says:

          Are you kidding? He still (assuming this is real, which I suspect may not be the case) has to defend himself. And that means hiring a lawyer. Now, who do you think has more money to pay lawyers to duke it out in court, this guy, or BofA? They might decide to bankrupt him via legal fees just for a bit of revenge.

          And there wouldn’t be a damn thing he could do about it.

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            Depends on the state Justin lives in. Many of them do have laws against filing SLAPPs. If the bank in question were to file a defamation suit, and if Justin’s claims are correct, the bank would be out not just in bad publicity, but paying Justin’s legal fees and/or wasting his time as well.

          • Akanbe says:

            except he never mentioned the bank’s name. people just assume it’s bank of america.

          • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

            In my state filing a claim that’s essentially unwinnable means you’re liable for attorney fees. And, as a company that operates in and serves the public, the bank in this case is really unlikely to have any kind of case unless the guy was running around saying they ate babies.

      • AnthonyC says:

        Truth is an absolute defense against defamation/libel/slander accusations. If his story is true, he would win such a legal battle. It might be a PITA and expensive to actually wage such a battle, but he’d win.

      • SolidSquid says:

        This was the reason he didn’t mention the bank by name. One of the commentors on the original article also pointed out that, if his state has an anti-SLAPP statute, a case brought over discussing factual issues could be thrown out immediately

        • DariusC says:

          Really? So WHAT did he hope to achieve by complaining about a random nameless bank? Does that not defeat the whole purpose of the story? He has to be slandering someone.

    • Tim says:

      He says it’s $100,000 in interest.

      • Griking says:

        Banks pay interest still? How much money would have to be deposited to make $100,000 in interest nowadays with banks and their .75% rates?

        • Firethorn says:

          It’s not the interest that the bank would pay, it’s the interest the customers would pay the bank.

          $100k in lost deposits wouldn’t be that big of a deal. $100k over less than $1k of lost interest and such… Big deal.

  7. Reading Rainbow says:

    I find it interesting that all it takes is one note put on your account to basically completely screw you over. If it’s their mistake and they admit it, I don’t get how he couldn’t take them to court over it.

    • aybara says:

      Not surprising really.

      There is no such thing as a bank error in YOUR favor anymore. If they screw up and it benefits you, they give you a hard deadline to fix it.

      Basically, the banks can error in THEIR favor, and do so a lot. If they screw up and it benefits them, it can take weeks or months to get it corrected…..if ever.

      • katstermonster says:

        Wait…but my Monopoly card says they made an error in my favor!!! LIES, ALL LIES!!!

      • JustLurking says:

        Not exactly true. Just last month TD Bank did me a favor when I accidentally entered a deposit for $100 than it actually was. They credited me without even calling me to check.

        Props to them.

        But TD is clearly no BofA or a host of others who seemingly behave criminally with no accountability.

      • Difdi says:

        If a bank makes an error in their own favor, it may never get fixed, and any attempt to call the police gets (at best) a warning from the cops not to waste their time on civil matters (and at worst an arrest for filing a false police report).

        If the bank makes an error in your favor, and they cannot instantly correct it, the best case you can hope for is for them to demand you fix it. Worst case? SWAT team kicks your door in at 3 am and hauls you away to jail for “bank robbery”.

    • Tom Foolery says:

      I’d be willing to bet a nickel solid cash money that the prior management note was just an excuse. If a regional VP doesn’t have the authority to override a manager note and waive a fee, what does s/he have the authority to do?

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      He should be lucky the note didn’t say “Shoot this customer the next time he enters the bank.”

      Very disturbing that common sense would take a back seat to a years-old note on the account.

  8. duxup says:

    $100,000?

    It must be true, it is on the internet.

    • Elcheecho says:

      $100,000? It must be a lie, it’s on the Internets.

    • kmw2 says:

      Check a mortgage amortization table sometime – the first couple years payments are almost all interest. Losing a couple moderate-ticket refis could easily cost the bank $100K.

  9. Bativac says:

    The most maddening part of this, to me, would be the knowledge that the bank doesn’t care at all.

    • keepher says:

      More of them would care if enough people and regional governments pulled their funds out, refused to do business with them and went with regional banks or credit unions.

      • frank64 says:

        Yeah, the banks have been pulling this crap because everyone lets them. The people they do it too often don’t take their money out! Our fault too.

  10. caradrake says:

    In any sort of dispute between a customer and a business, the advice given is always to ‘speak with your wallet.’ It’s refreshing to see that some people actually do that.

  11. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Congratulations! Your $100,000 represents less than 1/20th of 1% percent of the average bank branch’s total deposits and loans – and that’s before spreading it out over 3 years.
    .

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      Yeah, but it’s a hell of a lot more than $900. $100,000 here, $100,000 there….pretty soon it’s real money.

      • hansolo247 says:

        No, it isn’t costing them squat.

        $100K in deposits is nothing. In fact, the big banks don’t even need deposits because they can borrow money from the Fed, and get paid interest for doing so. They really could care less, and our hero President stands behind it 110%.

        • Jeff-er-ee says:

          The original article seems to indicate that he calculated $100k in interest that he steered away from the bank. In other words, $100k in real revenue. That’s gotta sting at least a little. Too bad the bank name’s been redacted. I’d love to know where to steer clear of (wait, I already canned Chase to consolidate at my credit union. I’m okay now).

        • kmw2 says:

          Uh… banks do, in fact, need deposits. If they don’t have deposits to lend and borrow, they can’t make their reserve, and the Fed doesn’t look kindly on that. Furthermore, banks borrowing directly from the Fed at the prime rate actually pay more than those borrowing on the overnight markets facilitated by the Fed – 1% more, usually, which in an interest rate regime this low is absolute death to their competitive capabilities.

    • cheezfri says:

      But that’s just from ONE GUY. If more of us can have the same effect on our friends, it could have a real effect on the bank down the line.

  12. framitz says:

    No mention of the bank so I believe this is his FANTASY on getting even.
    There should be no reason to hide the name and location of the bank involved if all is true.

  13. dulcinea47 says:

    That’s nice and all, but dude, let it go now.

  14. zippygaelle says:

    Well played, Justin!

    I’m also loving some of the comments to his post on Reddit, and the expressions RAGE CAPS and “Pinky Anchor of Anger” are now officially part of my vocabulary!

  15. c!tizen says:

    “Bank Screws Man for $900″

    incredibly misleading headline.

  16. mexifelio says:

    He wouldn’t have had that note on his account if he didn’t overdraft his account the 2nd time. Were they both related to one overdraft transaction, or two separate occurrences?

    Also, if I am depositing money with the intentions of using it for an overdraft protection, you better believe I am going to double and triple check the teller’s actions before walking away.

  17. lehrdude says:

    I can’t wait to see the letter he cooks up for the bank when the total losses to the bank reaches $100 bazillion…

  18. penuspenuspenus says:

    This has happened to me before (bank deposited my paycheck into the wrong account). After getting a flood of overdraft notices and an angry call from my landlord I went to the bank to figure out what was going on. I get a woman accusing me of being a deadbeat and a liar. Then she found the mistake and told me the person spent the money. Finally convinced her to fix that and she just leaves the hundreds of dollars in overdrafts as if that wasn’t her problem. More arguing until she fixed that too.

    Screw you Wells Fargo! :D My new bank has enjoyed my business for quite a while now.

  19. Nick says:

    HeRo cks

  20. no_wallmart says:

    Does anyone at that bank REALLY care? And how impressive is this story if we don’t know the name of the bank? Companies don’t feel guilt or remorse, so I agree with others: Let it go. The only way this story has any interest to me is if the bank is named. File under: Lame.

  21. Mothman says:

    Not paying the bill and letting it go to collectors was an unproductive way to handle the situation. I would have paid something out of good faith to prolong the communications with the bank and, hopefully, come to a settlement of some sort. Even if negotiations failed, the worst case would be paying $500 as opposed to $900.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      The best way would have been to drag the collection agency to court. The debt wasn’t valid, trying to collect it would be illegal.

    • AnthonyC says:

      If he pays, he is acknowledging that he owes the debt, when what he wants if for the bank to acknowledge he never really owed the debt in the first place.. Also (based entirely on what I’ve read on consumerist) that would reset to statute of limitations for trying to collect on the debt.

      • Mothman says:

        That’s a good point about admitting to the debt. I have a small problem with this statement “Years later, the bank put his deposit in the wrong account, causing him to overdraft by $500″. Even though the bank made a mistake I think some accountability falls on the OP for relying heavily on the bank to do the everything correctly. Even though we think the banks should keep our money straight without question, in reality mistakes are made. So I do feel like he’s dodging his share of the responsibility.

    • chocolate1234 says:

      Agreed. If I were him I would have gotten documentation of the error, then threatened to either go to the BBB or take the bank to small claims court. I would have paid the overdraft in the meantime to avoid going to collections. Banks have to keep copies of the deposit tickets on hand, so if there was a discrepancy between the account written on the deposit ticket and the account the money was deposited into, it would be easy to see. By not paying the overdraft, he just royally messed up his credit.

  22. Big Mama Pain says:

    I actively do this with a host of business that I either really like or really love. We all do it, but most of us aren’t pedantic enough to calculate how much business we lost or gained for a company that we hate or love.

  23. jerryambler says:

    Good going! this guy is a hero

  24. humphrmi says:

    While I applaud his efforts and stick-to-it-iveness (for lack of a better word that I can think of now) I must say it would be nice to see an actual breakdown, for instance “Joe Blow refied his 30-year $50,000 mortgage with you, losing you $X”

  25. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    I also heard about how this hot girl quit her job by outing her boss’s farmville addiction. Probably as real as this generic letter.

    That is not to say that when a company/bank/HOA/whatever treats you like crap, you shouldn’t tell EVERYONE your story. Spread the information, so others can choose not to do business with them, and either they change or go out of business!

  26. josephpr says:

    Of course the irony is (assuming this story is accurate), by encouraging his friends to bank elsewhere, he may have wound up sending them to an even worse bank. And the cycle will continue, until we all just walk around carrying bags of cash (which will then solve the dust-up over credit card minimum purchase requirements).

  27. buckeyegoose says:

    This smells like chase, tell me its not chase.

  28. JollyJumjuck says:

    When you steal from the bank, it’s Criminal. When the bank steals from you, it’s Just Business.

  29. kitty says:

    If this nitwit spent the time to do something productive, he’d probably have made himself $100,000 instead of costing a bank it. Do something useful with your life.

  30. sopmodm14 says:

    i wish more corporations valued their customers more, instead of victimizing them

    same goes with colleges and state governments

  31. RandomHookup says:

    Seems to me he might have been better off pursuing the $900 it cost him. Then he could bitch and moan about the bank.

  32. mexifelio says:

    The banks don’t make mistakes, they make opportunities.

  33. vastrightwing says:

    Justin I admire you. I do the same thing. I take pride in knowing that I’ve had all my friends and family take their accounts away from BoA due to how they treated me. I don’t know how much this has cost BoA. That’s not my point. I want to help my friends and family stay away from harm, so I direct them to leave a harmful institution. I explain why doing business with this company is bad, what my experience was and when they tell me how hard it is to close and open an account, I help them do it. So far, I’ve managed to help close at least 6 accounts. I continue to do this, to this very day, because BoA is harmful. At the very least they are reckless and careless. At worst, they are doing this on purpose.

  34. mbd says:

    Lets see. Consumerist has failed to indicate which bank, so that we can avoid it, or give the bank an opportunity to respond. The bank’s name was not mentioned in the original linked blog, but that is their problem. This site is owned by Consumer Reports and I expect better. From exploitative headlines that do not match the story’s content to inflammatory social/political stories that are irrelevant from a consumer point of view, this site seems to have lost it’s way. Come on guys (and gals) editors, you have and can do better.

  35. Grungo says:

    Dear Consumerist blog,

    I am disappointed in you for posting this story. There are no authenticating details at all; in fact, it’s odds-on to be a fake (as other commentators have noted). Please do better fact checking in the future!

  36. CountryJustice says:

    The construction of his letter made my head hurt.

    Also, I call bullshit.If he really wanted to get someone’s attention, he would’ve used better specific examples. When you only deal in vague “lost interest,” you don’t have to back it up with examples.

  37. backinpgh says:

    I love the comments under the guy’s OP letter!

  38. Gladeye says:

    The point is to spread the word about how bad this bank is, but the name of the bank has been redacted from his letter and kept out of the article. What’s up with that. It’s HIS assertion. No one can be sued for libel just by reporting the facts of the story.

  39. Gilcole says:

    Bless you sir!

  40. cheezfri says:

    I had BOA but didn’t like their high overdraft fees. Partly them being greedy, partly me being stupid for letting my balance get that low. Anywayz… I got mad and switched to a credit union. Their online bill pay system was abysmal, they had very few ATMs, they charged me to use my debit card, they had even worse business hours than most banks. They processed all debits first and held all deposits until the end of the day, in the hopes that it would cause an overdraft during the day. And deposits after 2pm didn’t count for the day. I finally went back to BOA. I’m just much more careful about letting my balance get low. I have excellent bill pay service, my local branch is super nice (and has given me $400 in overdraft fees back when I was out of the country and underestimated my spending.) They don’t count overdrafts that occur during the day; I can make a cash deposit same day if necessary (up to 10pm), and avoid the overdraft fee. Maybe I’m just lucky?

    And no, I don’t work for them.

  41. The cake is a lie! says:

    Bwahahahahahahah!!!! I’m tellin ya… I’ve never read such witty comments on any blog ANYWHERE! Even Consumerist comments aren’t usually that funny!!! I’ve never laughed so hard at the comments on something in my entire life. Those guys are hilarious! “The innuendo is strong with this one”! lol I always trust my money to “Bank o’ Ameriba” BWAHAHHAAHAHAHAH!!!!! Thanks, consumerist for taking me there! That made my whole fraking week!! Every comment struck home as honest to God truth and I could feel everybody’s pain. So funny!!!

  42. sybann says:

    Several members of my family are leaving the Bank (of A) in question for equally screwed up customer service issues.

  43. sleze69 says:

    Sounds like a troll post to me:

    1. No real details on how he calculated $100k
    2. No mention of the bank

    Telling his story isn’t libel. Otherwise, Consumerist would have been SLAPPed many times.

  44. Mary13134 says:

    Love it!!!

  45. fredmertz says:

    Are unattributed, unverifiable e-mails sent in to reddit really reportable?

  46. Clyde Barrow says:

    Good job OP.

  47. smo0 says:

    Is this guy single? ;)

  48. jim says:

    what a huge waste of time. why doesn’t he do something with himself instead.

  49. craptastico says:

    how did a $500 overdraft turn into $900 in fees? even after going to collections that seems ridiculous. usually if you overdraft you pay a fee of something along the lines ot $25.

    • craptastico says:

      nevermind. i didnt see that it triggered 14 overdraft charges. that in itself seems silly though. this is the number one reason to decline overdraft. the guy probably used his debit card for a dozen or so small buys in a couple days and if they first one had told him that the account was empty he’d have straightened it out before it got to this.

  50. mushpuppy says:

    No one at the bank will care.

  51. al says:

    couldn’t he just sue the bank in small claims court. he has all the evidence.

  52. baristabrawl says:

    I hate Bank of America. I pretty much just hang out in the lobby of my credit union extolling the benefits of said institution.

  53. elysse says:

    I hope that was 5/3. I’ve been doing something similar since 2003 because of them doing that exact thing to me…. Difference is, the people I steer away from them are mostly broke anyway. :/

  54. maztec says:

    Sorry, he needs to post actual statistics and tell us what bank it is to have any credibility.

    However, I left U.S. Bank when I was 19 for a similar cock up that resulted in me losing over $14,000. Short story: I was operating a systems installation business at the time. Client wired $30,000 to my account to purchase equipment. I went on a spending spree with my debit card, blissfully unaware that my debit card had a $100 maximum withdrawal per day limit. The limit was put on because I had set up the account with my father when I was 16; if I had created a new account at 18 there would have been no limit. Each purchase beyond that $100 per day limit cost me $25. Because I was making tons of small, individual purchases in order to save costs for the client, I ended up going over that $100 limit by over 50 individual transactions. U.S. Bank let those transactions go through, rather than denying them, and charged me an additional $25 for each one. The penalty fees were charged before my withdrawals were made. Once the combined penalty fees hit, my account quickly dipped below my minimum balance ($500, again because I had set it up when I was 16). Once under the minimum balance, I was charged a “below minimum balance” fee of $15 per transaction. That escalated me right down past $0 in the account, which resulted in a “overdraft fee” of $35 per transaction, plus $10 per transaction for the notification to my father – who had helped me set up the account when I was 16. By the time all fees where charged, some fees creating new fees, I was down $14,000 in the account. Luckily, I had all the equipment and managed to complete the project for the client and get paid. Net profit on the entire project was nearly -$2,000. I remember this to this day as a reason never to go with U.S. Bank again.

    Whereas, Bank of America, only reason I don’t use them is because I could never figure out how not to get charged outrageous “account maintenance” fees.

    But, I must thank both BoA and USBank, because I now use my local credit union *hugs*.