It’s weird when you bump into an interesting story by doing something random. I was reading at Flexo’s Consumerism Commentary site and saw a retro article about a $1 million dollar deposit. It mention Patrick Combs’ story about a junk mail check for $95k that got deposited. I thought that’s a great story and I followed the link. While reading his amazing story and surprised by the bank’s incompetence, I came across this quote:

The bank knows they made a big mistake. But instead of calling me and explaining their mistake, they called and bullied me with scare tactics, “banking” on my being ignorant and fearful. Apparently they feel they’re powerful enough to avoid admitting to their mistakes and powerful enough to deny me even the right to fair treatment — refusing to even send me a letter about this. I don’t think they’re that powerful.”

Powerful enough to avoid admitting to their mistakes and powerful enough to deny me even the right to fair treatment

Banks can be so unreasonable on just admitting their mistakes, even when it is obvious. Lately I noticed more and more banks becoming hostile with its customers instead of trying to resolve mistakes (on both sides) peacefully. My personal experience has been with Bank of America’s customer service on the phone. When I go in person, I usually get decent service, nothing spectacular, but nothing horrid. Trying to get a supervisor is like pulling teeth with them. When you do get in contact with a supervisor, they say they don’t have the authority to resolve this matter. I also had an experience where the bank made a mistake and the customer service representative got hostile. The bottom line was that they were willing to lose customers over a $10 fee! Let’s see a couple thousands of dollars in the account over $10 fee. It’s like they are stepping over a dollar to get a dime.

I don’t know what you would do, but we decided that it would be best to close the account. We found a bank that offered better interest rates and had few fees (ING Direct). It’s been about 6 months and it’s going well. I love seeing the interest grow instead of worrying if another insane fee would pop up. Customers deserve better treatment than what they’re getting many banks.

Here’s my list of what a good checking account would have:

  • No minimums (ex. what if you want to put your money into savings where it can grow faster)
  • No fees (I hate that unless I have direct deposit, my local CU charges me $2 each month. What if my job didn’t offer it? Should I be penalized?)
  • Free Bill Pay (Some banks and CU will charge you a fee on your bill pay outright or if you make fewer than 5 transactions a month.)
  • Friendly and helpful customer service whether in person or on the phone should be expected and given.

“Banking on my being ignorant and fearful. “

The best protection you can give your money is knowledge. Know your rights as a consumer and work on familiarize yourself with competitors’ rates and products. If necessary, you’ll know which bank to transfer your money. Use your money to show banks that support that support financial institutions that respects and value their customers, not belittle and exploit with fees.

Photo Credit: Citizen Mira

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