They're Only Pennies, But They're My Pennies
Bank of America is in trouble. And they're trying to get me to help bail them out. You might be on their list too. So listen up.
I do almost all of my business banking online with Bank of America. I check my account several times daily to confirm deposits and check clearances, fees and wire transfers. Last week, I noticed a fee of $2.28 for an "Overdraft Interest Charge." This was puzzling since I had not overdrawn the account and I'd never heard of an Overdraft Interest Charge. I was not happy. And it got worse.
They Didn't Know Why The Fee Had Been Imposed
I called customer service figuring there had been an error and they'd quickly credit my 228 pennies. I was wrong. A nice lady explained that she couldn't tell why the fee had been imposed, that it would be "investigated," and that I would be notified by snail mail within 10 days of the reason for the fee.
I asked why it took nearly two weeks to investigate a $2.28 overdraft charge on an account which clearly had not been overdrawn. She calmly informed me that it really wasn't enough money to get "all worked up over." That was not the right thing to say. After all, even though only 228 pennies were at issue, they were my pennies, and I intended to get them back.
I Could Not Wait
Even though I didn't need those 228 pennies, I could not wait 10 days. So I waited 4 business days and called again. Another customer service rep told me that an Overdraft Interest Charge is imposed when a check is deposited into an account and the funds are made available before the check clears the issuing bank. The fee covers Bank of America's "loss" of that money during that short time frame.
When I asked why the bank didn't hold the check until the funds cleared so neither the bank nor the customer suffered a loss, he couldn't provide an answer. I politely told him that I thought it was a clever (and illegal) way to subsidize all the other losses the bank is currently dealing with: $4 billion in third quarter losses, preparing to write down $3 billion in debt in the fourth quarter due to defaults in subprime mortgages and the public relations snaffu after Congressional hearings into the bank's practice of increasing interest rates on credit card customers who had never missed a payment but whose credit scores had been lowered for reasons that had nothing to do with Bank of America.
Fight For Your Pennies
I encourage you to check your statements carefully and if you see such a fee, even if it's for as little as 228 pennies, call them up and get your pennies back.
The titans of the American banking industry aren't known for showing much regard for average everyday people. That's the bad news. But the good news is that their callous disregard for our contributions to society are clearing a path for more of us to pick away at markets they clearly take for granted. We're learning how to manage our money better, and to use it to start businesses of our own so we don't have to rely on them or their credit cards or their subprime loans to secure our family's future.
So fight for your pennies. Every single one of them. And use them to build your own Indie empire, one that has a heart and which regards each customer as the valuable human being that he or she is.