Sometimes a company verifies that a bank account by making a couple of small deposits in it, then asking you to report back the deposit amounts. Don’t rely on that verification process to block any activity in the meantime, though. That’s what Suzette did with Ally bank, and she ended up with a $35 stop payment fee from her own bank.
If you participate in an automatic savings program like Bank of America‘s Keep the Change service, where debit card purchases are rounded up and the difference is deposited into your savings account, keep an eye on maintenance fees. James says he was hit with a $5 charge last month because he hadn’t met the minimum monthly deposit requirement of $25: “It turns out that I wasn’t even accruing $5 worth of change per month, so I was losing more money due to the maintenance fee than I was saving via Keep the Change!”
As a nation, we pay more each year in overdraft fees than we do for books, cereal, or fresh vegetables, says the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL)—and considering how outrageously expensive cereal is, they must be talking about a huge sum. They are: “Banks and credit unions collected nearly $24 billion in overdraft fees last year, an increase of 35 percent from just two years earlier.”
Jeff bought a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 4 back in May during a sale promising a $200 discount. The final checkout price didn’t reflect the discount, but he double-checked the terms and conditions and confirmed that he was eligible. Adobe agreed, and has repeatedly promised to issue a refund. Jeff has been waiting for the check for almost four months, and he’s not alone. Another customer has been waiting on a similar refund for almost a year!
Will thought he was buying the newest MacBook Pro model—that’s what it said on the box and on the receipt. After he’d set it up, he discovered it was a previous model, so he took it back to the glass box Apple Store on Fifth Ave in NYC to get the version he paid for. Now Apple wants him to pay $100 to transfer his data over to the new laptop. But hey, he shouldn’t complain, because they’re “waiving” the restocking fee!
Midwest utility Xcel Energy wants to charge anyone using solar panels a monthly fee for sustainably generating their own energy. According to company spokesman Tom Henley, “We just don’t think it’s fair that customers that don’t have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further.” Huh?
After reading about how Jesse was banned for life from Bank of America for no clear reason, other readers wrote in with similarly bizarre BoA stories. Wayne was locked out of his new account after he opened it and charged a $75 overdraft fee. Chris was sent checks linked to a duplicate account and then charged penalties when the checks bounced. Edward’s new account was closed but the CSR refused to tell him why, and he was charged a $60 “research fee” for the closing. When Edward went to a BoA branch to clear things up, he says the employee there told him, “That’s why you don’t open up accounts online.”
Consumers aren’t the only ones looking to save money and gain a little extra cash on the side. Banks are people too, you know! In the face of toxic assets and credit card delinquencies, they’ve come up with a plan to increase their revenue: New fees! Higher fees! Higher minimum balance requirements! Trickier overdrafts!
Vonage apparently rustled up a map and is now apologizing to customers who were accidentally charged international rates for their domestic calls. Reader J.R., who in April received a $38 bill after Vonage billed a call to Los Angeles as a call to Algeria, sent us the telecom’s apology note…
Just when free tv on the internet was starting to get good, Hulu board member Jon Miller had to go and talk about subscription fees. Miller, an AOL refugee who’s now squeezing cash out of consumers for News Corp, said last week of subscription fees: “in my opinion the answer could be yes. I don’t see why that shouldn’t happen over time… it seems to me that over time that could be a logical thing.” Charging for content isn’t his only big idea…
Brent was ready to order two-day shipping from Amazon merchant Electronics Expo for a set of Boston Acoustics speakers until he realized it would cost an extra $186. The speakers were only $49, and standard shipping was available for $14.99.
Time Warner has revised their Subscriber Agreement to lay the legal foundation needed to implement consumption based billing, including usage caps, tiered rate plans, overlimit fees, and speed throttling. Though Time Warner’s metered broadband plans lie in shambles after a barely-averted run in with Congress’ legislative mace, the cable giant clearly has no intention of letting such a potentially massive cash cow escape from the paddock. Inside, the dangerous new legalese that may soon appear in teeny tiny print on your next Time Warner bill.
Tony bought a Tempur-Pedic mattress from healthyback.com last December, and they sent him two pillows as a “free gift.” Tony didn’t want the pillows, but HealthyBack refused to take them back, and assured him they were part of a promotion.