Bank Of America Lets You Keep Get Out Of Jail Free Card

Chaz forgot about a check he wrote a month ago and when it got deposited this month, his Bank of America account went into the red. This also caused a transfer he started to get rejected, so he got two $35 overdraft charges. Armed with a “stuff happens” one-time fee refund card Bank of America gave him when he opened his student account, he went in and threw himself at their mercy.

Surprisingly, not only did the teller refund BOTH fees, she also let him keep the card in case “stuff happens” again. “This woman was awesome!” writes Chad. “I sincerely thanked her for her help, because I know that she did not have to do that for me. I’m sure this isn’t the standard operating procedure, but I’m glad that some BoA employees still have customers in mind!”

Good on ya, anonymous Bank of America rep. Your customer service skills and generosity will serve you in good stead at your next job after you are fired for breaking Bank of America stuff happens card policy.

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  1. Samtron says:

    Just wait until next time when “Stuff Happens” and he gets logged into the refund rejection robot.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If banks weren’t so interested in our overdraft fees, I imagine this would be given out once every 1-2 years for everyone. Would certainly be a compelling reason to join a bank.

    • msbask says:

      Why would a bank *not* be interested in overdraft fees. Isn’t this how they make money?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        No, they make money from the money we hold in their bank, and from the interest from the money we borrow.

        They also CAN make money off of overdraft fees, but for a long time this was not a focus for revenue. Only until relatively recent years has that been a focus for revenue and become an increased forcus.

        • Gulliver says:

          Not so much. Look at prevailing interest rates, and then look at the financial boom over draft fees are. With interest rates too low, why would anybody lend money? I give you money on the chance you can pay me back at 4-6%? It doesn’t take many loans to default for me to lose my ass at that rate. This will become even worse if inflation ever increases because those loans at current rates become a LOSS against the inflation.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Only a loss compared to current rates. That doesn’t mean they are losing money, it means they aren’t gaining it as quickly as they could.

            And current interest rates doesn’t mean the purpose of a banks suddenly changes. Their primary use it to lend and invest money.

            The current situation doesn’t really change anything. They charge us at 4-6% because the federal interest rate is zero. That’s a difference of 4-6%. If the federal rate rises, so do the lending rates for customers. There really isn’t much loss here for banks. And getting nothing is worse than something less than normal.

        • peebozi says:

          You and those replying are missing the way banks make money.

          You deposit $100 and receive “as advertised” the .25% interest rate on that $100.

          the bank then creates an addition $2,900 out of thin air (not really but i don’t want to get into how that happens) to loan out at an APR of 4-29%. In addition, if they lend for a mortgage, the first few years of payments are mostly interest payments.

          don’t forget that your bank account has been multiplied 30 times by the bank, for lending purposes.

          the 38 Billion banks “earned” in overdraft fees in 2006 is squat to their profit but a huge deal to their shareholders greed/profit.

          • bwcbwc says:

            The $2,900 out of thin air is borrowed from the Fed at 0% (the current federal funds rate) up to the capitalization requirements enforced by federal regulation. The Fed is the entity that actually makes the money appear out of thin air (or disappear into thin air) based on their monetary policy for stimulus vs. inflation control.

    • tomz17 says:

      I’ve never paid an overdraft fee of any kind.

      The secret to banks is : “I’m not going to pay this fee.” It’s usually enough to get your bank to drop it…

      • goodfellow_puck says:

        Yeah, not so much. I told them I would not be able to eat if I had to pay their fees, so I was not going to do it. They discounted it maybe 10%, and that was it, even after an hour of arguing in the bank branch. Haven’t overdrafted since then. About the same happened to a friend of mine, at a different bank.

  3. Bob Lu says:

    Didn’t BoA just get a patent about preventing it’s employees do so?

    • JJJJust says:

      Mmm… The “Refund Decision Tool”, as it’s called, has been around for ages at BofA though but was finally patent approved recently.

      Of course, discretion is a part of the RDT.

  4. leprechaunshawn says:

    Don’t put yourself in situations where you might end up in “jail”. That way, you won’t need to use a “get out of jail free card”.

    Or, to make my point more relevant, just change around a few words. Don’t spend more money than you make. That way, you won’t get dinged with an overdraft charge.

    I know that it’s considered passé to blame the OP but come on. There is only one way to avoid overdraft charges and we all know what it is.

    • msbask says:

      Generally speaking, you’re right. But people make mistakes. That’s what this program is for.

      Not for you, just for the rest of us humans.

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      yes yes, completely right. If you always bring an umbrella you never have to worry about the rain. If you always wear clean socks, your shoes wont stink.

      Indeed, an ounze of prevention IS worth a pound of cure. WE GET IT! DUH!!

      but, good sir Leprechaun. Sometimes we imperfect beings make mistakes and its nice to know that occasionally, the world will give us a mulligan. For in a world, and website, where all we hear/read is about banks screwing up, wanting foregiveness, and refusing to foregive others, its nice to know that when Stuff Happens, you may get out of Jail free. Of course though, you do not pass go and collect 200 bucks but you dont have to roll doubles or pay 50 either

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

        Nicely put. It almost makes me want to play Monopoly. Note the word “almost,” because I no doubt bought Boardwalk but can’t land on Park Place for the life of me to buy it, then hotels on each. Grrr.

    • shadowboxer524 says:

      OP here. This isn’t stated in the article, but I went in with the intention to use the card for only one of the fees and just eat the other one. Yes, I had overdrawn and that was my fault for not keeping better track of my expenses. I made a mistake and would have to accept the consequences.

      I never tried to shrug off my responsibility for the infraction. I had the card, so I decided to use it. That’s what it’s designed for, and I see no problem in that. That the associate reversed both the charges and let me keep my card was her own choice. I didn’t try to persuade her in any way to remove both charges.

      To comment on the “don’t spend more money than you make” statement, I completely agree. In this case, it wasn’t spending more money than I have that did me in, it was simply mismanagement and forgetfulness. I have other bank accounts that I use and only keep a small sum in my BoA account (the money transfer mentioned in the article was initiated in that spirit). However, I had completely forgotten about that check I wrote (I rarely write checks. I think that might’ve been my 10th check since I opened the account in Feb 2008), which is why I didn’t have sufficient funds to cover the withdrawal. But as soon as I was notified about the overdraft, I transferred money from another account to make up for the deficit.

      So, no, I wasn’t spending more money than I make. That’s why I have a credit card. :-D

    • runswithscissors says:

      Can you see Russia from the top of your pedestal?

    • MrEvil says:

      That’s a really really bad analogy. In Monopoly going to jail is purely by chance. Either you landed on “Go to Jail” or you drew a go to jail card or you rolled doubles three consecutive times.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Yup, nothing unfortunate ever happens and everything always goes according to plan. Nobody ever makes a mistake, either.

      I hope you never trip over yourself rushing to blame the OP. A broken nose is painful and unsightly.

  5. jaya9581 says:

    I know everyone thinks that if you overdraw, it’s your own fault. Sometimes that’s just not the case, however.

    For example: Last year Staples had a promo where if you purchased $25 in Sharpie products you got $25 off (during Cyber Monday). I called in to verify stock and made my order which came to a couple dollars. Payment was made from an account I use infrequently that only had about $8 in it. Fast forward about a week and I get notice of an overdraft which occurred after Staples charged me $20. Come to find out, even though Staples verified stock at the time of my order, it was wrong – instead of canceling the order outright or contacting me, they charged me full price for the items they did have and sent them out (they sent me the wrong items too, adding to the Staples fail.)

    The bank steadfastly refused to reverse the charge. I was told that even in the case of a chargeback it would not be reversed (T or F, that was the story I got). I eventually, after arguing for many days with Staples, received a store credit that covered the amount of the bank fee.

    Just an example of why a customer might receive a fee that is not their fault.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Why would you pay for something from an account with $8 in it?

      • adamstew says:

        why should that matter? He made a purchase that was only a couple of dollars, and had more than enough to cover the expected charge.

      • backinpgh says:

        Maybe because $8, believe it or not, is real, legal tender that can be used to pay for things that cost $8 or less.

      • jaya9581 says:

        As was answered, it shouldn’t make any difference. There was more than enough in the account to cover the authorized charge. The account is only used for online/phone purchases and I generally don’t keep much money in it, transferring funds in only when I need to.

    • Salty Johnson says:

      I don’t know what bank you use, but Wells Fargo will refund any overdraft fees that are a result of bank or merchant error. If you can get the merchant to refund a transaction that resulted in an overdraft fee (directly or indirectly), you will get the fee back.

      I had that problem when I didn’t realize I still had active services with 1&1 (a hosting provider that bills semianually). They billed me $29.94 for the next 6 months and that resulted in an overdraft and fee of $35 from WF. There wasn’t even an error on the part of the merchant or bank… I just screwed up. Luckily, 1&1 has a decent money-back guarantee and they refunded my money for the remainder of the billing cycle which amounted to about two dollars less than what they originally charged and Wells Fargo refunded the fee without a second thought… and it wasn’t one of their “courtesy” refunds either (of which you can actually have up to 5 per year without supervisor approval)… it was handled as a merchant error and went through without a hitch.

      • jaya9581 says:

        It was WaMu/Chase. Their stance was that there was no merchant error, they were products I ordered. Plus, you know, it’s Chase.

  6. Joseph S Ragman says:

    Wish someone from BofA would have helped me out when I got caught up in that trap known as “residual interest”

  7. tange1 says:

    when I was a student I used to overdraft all the time. I just would walk into my local PNC branch and play stupid, asking them to show me how the overdraft happened. They’d always end the conversation w/ refuding the overdrafts :-) PNC is still my bank today many years later…

  8. annalisa says:

    I never got a card, but BofA has given me the “stuff happens” treatment a few times. Apparently it’s good once every 365 days, but they’re pretty leinent about it. They’ve let me use the service more than once in a year before.

  9. zantafio says:

    yeah well, those bastards at BoA charged me over $240 in overdraft fees in one day because of several tiny overdrafts totaling $16!! That was three years ago, at the height of their arrogance.

    Death to BoA!!

  10. goodfellow_puck says:

    HA, I still have one of those cards. I doubted it would ever work since I’m long out of school and a “student” account, but you never know.

  11. perkonkrusts says:

    I love, love, love BofA. Geez, it just sounds bizarre saying that because of all the negative things I’ve heard about them. But online banking is great, and every time I go inside I’m treated so well, just like I would expect at a small, local bank. I swear I don’t work for them. But they have been great to me for more than 10 years now. Oh, and my balance is peanuts, so it’s not like they have a real financial incentive to care about me.

  12. TheGreySpectre says:

    I don’t see why people don’t just keep enough in their checking account to avoid the “I over drafted by $20″ problem. That’s not to say you need thousands of dollars in there but I find having an extra hundred or two in my checking account has saved me hours of hassle as I only have to deal with the merchants, not the bank. It also allows for a buffer if things are withdrawn in a different order then you expect.

    Also, what happened to the skill of balanacing your checkbook. Why did this guy not record that he had written checks? I mean I’m glad he got his fee’s refunded as people make mistakes, but this does seem like it was entirely his fault.

    • shadowboxer524 says:

      OP here.

      Yes, it was totally my fault. I agree. I only wrote in to comment on the great service I experienced with my BoA branch, which is why I commended the associate because I know that she was going out of her way to help me.

      I tried keeping a registry of expenses for well over a year. But it became a hassle, and I hated carrying around the thing.

      Now I hang onto my receipts in my wallet and confirm the amount online after it posts. But because I write so few checks, I had just completely forgotten about it (the person had held onto it for nearly a month before depositing it, too, which didn’t help).

      So yes, I was irresponsible in this instance for not making a note of that check, but I am *mostly* responsible with my finances. Like you said, people make mistakes.

    • blueneon says:

      Unfortunately, not everyone has an “extra hundred or two” like you do :)

  13. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Just a reminder,everyone: let’s avoid blaming the tipster, and focus on being constructive. This post really is about BoA customer service, not about who’s to blame for an overdraft fee (the OP has repeatedly taken responsibility for this).

    There’s no reason that Chaz needs to keep defending himself here. Please keep your comments on topic and appropriate. Thanks all.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Thanks, Roz. I wish this point didn’t need to be reiterated every time we have an overdraft article…. but thanks, regardless.

  14. cheezfri says:

    My daughter got the student account and Stuff Happens card. She never had to use the card though, because she got a letter saying that she had overdrafted and would have 4 days to make a deposit in order to avoid an overdraft fee. Very strange, but cool for her! I’m not a student but have had BOA refund lots of overdraft fees when I went out of the country and could not check my balance online. I really do love my local branch.

  15. Intheknow says:

    Received a few of these from Regions Bank. Haven’t used them yet, but sure nice to have!

  16. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I’ve been with BOA for years and they have been awesome to me. I opened one of those keep the change accounts and they actually did the fist year funds matching as promised. I woke up one day with an extra $250 or so in my account.

  17. tbax929 says:

    I rarely write checks anymore, preferring to pay bills through my bank’s bill payment system. However, when I used to write a lot of checks, it used to drive me crazy when people would sit on my checks for weeks. Like, what the hell are you waiting for? Deposit the damn thing!

  18. teamplur says:

    With BofA, you don’t really need that card to get (1) instance of overdrafts refunded. If you call and have a decent sob story, they’ll let it slide that one time, but they will make a note on your account and regular CSR will never again be able to refund an overdraft fee for you. I was lucky that I contacted the office of the CEO and got some … disputed.. overdrafts taken care of even though I had already been flagged on my account about 2 years prior. 4 calls to CS before I tried the CEO and they all said the same thing about not being able to refund the drafts again.