A lot of you are probably having to cut back on your expenses to make ends meet in this economic downturn. I’ve drastically reduced my discretionary spending, postponed the purchase of new office equipment, and investigated less expensive alternatives to a lot of my monthly expense items. I’ve also been streamlining and reorganizing my finances, which inevitably involves a lot of contact with banks.
Kean Walmsley’s post about his recent bank customer service issue motivated me to post about one of my recent bank experiences.
First of all, I’m here to tell you that banks do make mistakes. I’m sure that the vast majority of the time when your check book doesn’t balance, it was you that made a mistake, and not the bank. But if you are cursed like I am, then banks delight in creating phantom overdrafts and charging you exorbitant overdraft fees, then, when confronted with their error, apologizing and refunding the fees (after the damage is done and all those bounced checks have caused you to incur returned check charges from your creditors). That has happened twice to me in the past two months, with two different banks and two completely unrelated accounts.
In both cases, the bank eventually fixed the error, but I’m still out the returned check charges and whatever damage that has done to my credit rating.
One of the “returned” payments was a credit card payment. Of course, I did not get notified about this until the day after the payment due date, so it was too late to fix the problem in time to prevent another exorbitant late fee from being charged by the credit card bank.
Obviously the returned check triggered some alarms at the credit card bank, because I started receiving phone calls begging me to make a payment immediately. Irritated, I decided to make the credit card bank wait until the next due date before making the replacement payment. I figured my late fee bought me that extra time, so I might as well use it. My patience paid off: after a few futile attempts at collecting their late payment, the bank offered to refund the late fee if I made an immediate payment. That’s what I’m talking about!