Get Customers To Sign Up For Overdraft Fees Or Get Fired

One of our readers is a bank teller branch manager and he feels queasy. His bank is making him trick customers into signing back up for overdraft fees, and if he doesn’t, he’ll get fired.

He objects to the misleading name for the program, “Account Protector,” and the fear-stoking sales pitch he’s instructed to use to push it: “You wouldn’t want your card to be declined, would you?” Worse, customers our bank teller talks to who have opted in often have no idea that they’re saying yes to overdraft fees.

Our reader says it goes down like this at his bank:

A customer walks up to a teller window to make a deposit. The teller asks, “Have you enrolled in Account Protector yet?”

Account Protector? What does that actually protect? We are told to overcome objections to opting in by saying things like, “you wouldn’t want your card to be declined, would you?” It seems a bit shady to me.

Some customers I speak to about the changes are completely unaware that they had opted in as well, which speaks to the fact that they simply don’t understand the difference.

It reeks of deception, so when faced with the termination of my employment here at the bank, I accepted the fact that we would be giving consumers a choice, but I went about it by explaining the differences in the choices with real world examples and actual facts.

…Calling affirmative consent to charge overdraft fees the “account protector” is pretty much like putting a cartoon character on a box of cigarettes. My approach is putting the picture of the cancerous lung on the box instead. Same product, but at least you know the dangers upfront…

It’s not surprising that I am not getting enough people to opt in. It’s also not surprising that my job here is in serious jeopardy because of this. I was delivered an ultimatum today – commit to selling the “Account Protector” regardless of whether it is necessary or not, or tender my resignation.

Any ideas?


Concerned Banker

Tough spot. Do something you find ethically questionable or lose your job during a recession. Which would you choose, dear Consumerists?

Chase Now Has Human ATM Greeter Who Helpfully Sells Overdraft Protection
TD Ratchets Up Overdraft Opt-In Push With Pop-Up Scare Tactics
Banks Luring You Into Signing Back Up For High Overdraft Fees
Is Chase’s Overdraft Fee “Opt-In” Purposefully Confusing?

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.