TCF Bank Figures Out How To Close $.05 Account

After reader DFCL’s story about how TCF Bank wouldn’t close his checking account with $.05 left in it, preferring to charge $149 in fees instead, went up on Consumerist, something good happened.

They silently reversed all the fees! Then DFCL spoke with a customer service rep and they figured out a creative way to finally get his account shut down. DFCL writes:

The fees on my account were silently reversed. Thank you Consumerist!

The account was not closed, however. I called TCF customer service to try to close the account and was first told it could not be done over the phone. More fees were impending.

I explained I was hours from a TCF branch visiting with my mother who was just diagnosed with a horrible cancer. The call center employee at first told me the account could not be closed over the phone. I pleaded and he came up with something he “never though of before.”

His idea was to transfer the nickel out of my checking account and into my savings account. At this point he could close the checking account over the phone. The savings account could not be closed in the same way but when the monthly fees roll around savings accounts will not drop below $0!

I told the representative I would part with my nickel to close my checking account and avoid more fees. There was a catch-: it takes two days for the account closure to process and I was calling two days before the monthly fees would be assessed. The plan was for me to check my account status two days later and call back if the account was not closed in time.

It was tough but together we were able to crack this nut.

Thanks again Ben.

Best regards,



TCF Bank Won’t Close $.05 Account, Prefers To Charge $149 In Fees


Edit Your Comment

  1. axhandler1 says:

    Hooray for public shaming! Seemingly the only path to customer service nowadays.

  2. frank64 says:

    The Scotty of banking!

  3. Costner says:

    Although I haven’t actually needed a bank teller in years, sometimes it is nice to be able to walk into a local branch, speak with a human, and get a solution.

    Granted some humans are not capable of providing a solution, but more times than not it works better in person when you can use visual clues to let them know their answers and actions are idiotic.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Yeah, I’m really not comfortable with having a bank where I can’t walk in and talk to someone.

  4. Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

    Why Hooray? It doesn’t sound like he’s out of the woods yet, pending if they still charge him the monthly fees or not.

    I wish him luck, but I foresee him getting popped again and having the same problem.

    • coren says:

      Savings accounts can’t go into the red, according to the teller, so he is out of the woods..his nickel will go towards whatever fee, and then he’ll have a zeroed out savings.

      • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

        Yeah, but if the monthly fee is like $25, then he will still have to pay $24.95 after they take his nickel.

        If the CSR is right and they’ll just zero the account out, cool. But I foresee the OP writing Consumerist back in a few days when he has another fee charge.

        Also, he should close the savings account post haste in case there is some sort of “maintenance fee” for having one without a sufficient balance in the account.

        • thebobpuller says:

          TCF savings accounts can’t have negative balances. Thus, fees with no balance to cover them vaporize. It ain’t rocket surgery.

          • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

            I read the “article” all it says is the CSR said that he won’t get charged a fee if the savings account goes negative. So you mean to tell me in the ENTIRE history of the world, something a CSR said over the phone NEVER turned out to be wrong?

            Here is the link to the TCF website about savings accounts:


            Furthermore, according to this document:


            The only waiver that applies to the monthly maintenence fee is the following:

            “TCF will waive the Monthly Maintenance Fee for
            90 days after account opening if the Minimum
            Deposit Required to Open Account is met at time
            of account opening.”

            In short, assuming home fry opened his account less than 90 days ago and made the minimum deposit when he opened it, cool, he’s golden. If not, he’s gonna get hit with the $4-$15 fee (depending on what sort of account he first opened).

    • Annoyed says:

      Did u read the same thing as me? Out of the woods

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I once had a wonderful cancer. I’m sorry his mother’s is the horrible kind.

    • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

      That’s what I came here to say. I didn’t realize there were wonderful kinds of cancer… ;-)

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        I think there are. When my sister was rushed to the hospital while we were on vacation for what we thought was something minor, we were told after she was in surgery many more hours than expected that she had an incurable sarcoma that would kill her within months.

        We cried for days, alone in a strange city with no relatives, and then the pathology came back. It had to be sent to a special lab because it was such a rare cancer, only a handful of labs in the country can correctly read the biopsy for it. And it has a 95% survival rate. Six years later, she’s still here.

        Her doctor called it a “good cancer to have” if you’re going to have one, and I agree. If you have to have cancer, some are far better than others and not altogether as horrible.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      I prefer my cancer mediocre.

    • PLATTWORX says:

      “I explained I was hours from a TCF branch visiting with my mother who was just diagnosed with a horrible cancer.”

      I can say this since my mother died of cancer last year.

      You sould like a fool when you get on the phone with any company and announce your private family business, especially some “a horrible cancer” as if there is a good type.

      OP, I wish your mother well, but please think before sounding silly.

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    When banks make more money from fees than
    actual banking activities they have a broken business model.

    • frank64 says:

      I would be OK with the fees as long as they weren’t the “gotcha” fees that have only a smidgen of relationship to the cost. Like a cat letting a mouse in the house just to grab him an eat him. I guess we are OK with this set up as long as we are not the mice eaten.

      It is our fault because we don’t stop doing business with them thinking it hasn’t happened to us, or if it does, there isn’t much we can do about it.

  7. Adam9932 says:

    The lack of empowered CS reps is the real issue. Hire quality people, train them well, give them power to resolve most issues. Also, implement a quick and easy way for them to escalate the “odd-ball-one-of” issues to a manager that can do it.

    Doing this would solve most, if not all, problems before they blow-up.

  8. It's not fun. It's not funny. says:

    if a corporation can’t die, get sick, eat, drink, take a vacation, sleep or relax then they have 24 hours a day to concentrate on increasing their profits at consumer’s expense.

  9. PLATTWORX says:

    I just last had a similar story with Bank of America.

    I closed a savings account with them in late February with a ZERO balance. They confirmed via e-mail they closed it and then posted 7 cents interest causing a $12 monthly maintenance fee on a closed account. I spoke to them, they claimed to fx it. I then get another statement and I owe them $23.93…. two $12 monthly fees minus the 7 cents interest they took back.


    • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

      Same with me at Bank Of America – I couldn’t close my account because they would post $0.10 in interest and a $10.00 fee, leaving me with -$9.90 in my account. It probably takes one line of COBOL program code to fix this, but until the COBOL programmer gets there, the only solution is for the bank to terminate their relationship with you and then pretend you are a completely new guy starting a new account for the first time.

  10. Syntania says:

    I had this problem with TD bank for a checking acct. that I was ~trying~ to close down. I went into my local branch, and told the rep there that I wanted to close the acct. After all the paperwork was done and the remaining balance had been transferred to a different acct., I went home not suspecting the can of worms I had opened. Because my acct. had a minimum balance requirement, since it now had a balance of $0 in it, I received a letter 2 days later saying that I had a negative balance because of the fee. I called customer service and told them, “uh, this account was closed, why am I being charged fees on it?” I got, “Oh, apparently the rep you spoke to didn’t close the account because there were still pending transactions on it. I’ll go ahead and do that now.” Again, I hung up the phone all happy because that was done. Nope. Two weeks later, ANOTHER letter. I called again. Same conversation as before. Now, I’m figuring this can’t get any worse. Wrong. Apparently during the time my zombie bank account was lingering, some idiot who didn’t want to pay for his barely legal gay porn (I kid you not) had managed to input MY acct. number to get his subscription. So, I found the company, spoke to them, got the charges reversed and my acct. number blocked from further use (I don’t know too many 40 year old women who would need to look at gay porn), I visited my bank AGAIN and this time finally got my account closed for good. If I had known where the brain of my zombie account was located, I’d have just beheaded it myself and saved me the trouble.

  11. CWG85338 says:

    I would enter this bank under my ever-growing list of “people who make me work harder.” Everything is a chore these days, and the burden rests squarely on the back of the consumer. Kudos to the rep for thinking outside the box, but it was an awfully small box in which he was thinking…