Fees Turn Teenager's $4.85 Savings Account Into A $229.10 Debt

A lesson on fiscal responsibility for one teen turned into a tale of caution, after a maintenance fee over-drafted his account, triggering a deluge of other fees and ultimately putting him over $200 in the hole.

Daniel’s mom thought it would be a good idea for her 18-year-old-son to sign up for a savings account, so they went to a nearby TCF bank and got it set up, says the Chicago Tribune. So far, so good.

He let his balance get down to $4.85, and then just decided to let it sit in there. But then TCF notified him that a $9.95 “monthly maintenance fee” had been levied against his account for having so little money in it. Can you guess what happened next?

That fee had him $5.10 overdrawn, which then started a $28-a-day overdraft fee. By the time he and his mom closed the account, they were told they’d have to pay $229.10 in fees. After pleading with bank employees didn’t work, his mom contacted the media about their story.

Eventually, a TCF spokesman apologized and sent them the $229 back, saying that the automated process of charging $28 a day kicked in as he was more than $5 overdrawn, and that a human would’ve let it slide.

“We’re learning from it too,” said the spokesman when contacted by the Chicago Tribune. “We hope not to make these mistakes again.”

So this story has a somewhat happy ending, even if the experience has left a bad taste in Daniel’s mouth. She says she just wanted to teach her sons to be responsible.

“When they get zapped this way, why would they trust a bank?” his mom said.

*Thanks to Consumerist reader S.J. for the tip!

Bank fees that overdraw teen’s account have mom seeing red [Chicago Tribune]