Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Banking schmanking

Most of the country is experiencing all sorts of financial catastrophe. I am not, a fact for which I am extremely grateful. However, I am experiencing once more the supreme pinnacle of incompetence embodied by the particular branch of Bank of America located near my apartment.


1. When I moved to the great state of California, I was required to close my accounts in Rhode Island and open new ones here. This was not BofA's fault; it is a requirement for establishing residency. What WAS their fault was the fact that in the process of transferring my money from one branch to another, they managed to charge me over $100.00 in overdraft fees. Or overdraught fees, if I'm feeling British. Thanks to the always-friendly, always-competent BofA branch on Angell St., Providence, RI, I was able to recover this money.

2. During this initial transaction, I was assured that my old accounts were being closed. This was the sole purpose of the transaction, after all. One month later, I received another overdraught fee from the "closed" account. Again, RIBofA managed to recover my money.

3. I asked for a BofA credit card, at the instigation of the banker who "helped" me set up my new accounts. Today, 14 months and 3 days later, I have seen no sign of this credit card.

4. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I had too much money when I opened the accounts. They automatically signed me up for a "VIP" account, which resulted in their placing a minimum balance requirement on my accounts, a balance I recently dipped below because of the four-month gap between my paychecks. Surprise! Another $20.00 fee for having too little money. Yes, that's right. They charge you money for not having enough money.

5. In an attempt to recover this fee (and to have it explained, as I knew not whence it came), I went back to my least favorite branch of BofA. It's at the end of my block and Im lazy; sue me. I was informed that I had gone below my minimum balance ($10,000.00 between checking and savings, an astronomical amount to require) and that I would need to open a different type of checking account. I did so. However, to recover the fee I would need to call customer service, as the banker currently servicing me, the customer, was apparently not part of that department. I departed in a snit but with a shiny new bank account and a promise of a four-month grace period on the old account before I would have to get a new ATM card, close the account, and figure out the hellish details of changing over all of my automatic debits (gas, electric, internet, phone, LA homeless shelter, gym, and who knows what else).

6. Today I contacted customer service. The friendly but harried representative on the phone immediately reversed the fee and informed me that it would be much easier for me to just change the type of the account I already had instead of opening a new one. I would get to keep my ATM card, not have to redo all of my auto-debits, and as long as I had direct deposit set up, I wouldn't have to pay any monthly fee. Unlike under the plan I had set up with the banker at my branch, which would actually still charge me $20.00 per month for that four month "grace period." Leading me to question what on earth that "grace period" was doing for me.

7. Because my new account is listed as "recently opened," the helpful representative was unable to close it and transfer my $25.00 (minimum required amount to open a new checking account) back into my original checking account. I need to do that at my local branch. I shudder at the thought of the fortitude that would require of me. Therefore, I plan instead to simply wait until that account is no longer "recently opened," and call the same woman I spoke to today.

To sum up: I have no issues with BofA as a whole, as it seems not to be on the verge of sudden complete collapse. I have many, many issues with the wholly useless bankers who work at my local branch. If the woman on the phone had been less helpful, I would have withdrawn all of my money today and taken it to Wells Fargo, the happy (and solvent!) bank with the ponies in its logo. For now, however, BofA is experiencing a grace period. They are in my good graces for now, but they are teetering on the brink of incurring my everlasting wrath. Consider yourself warned, Bank of America. If you choose not to read this warning, I will charge you $30.00 per month until you notice.

Plus my computer died yesterday. Apparently it didn't like me searching for "Bea Arthur" on jstor. In an hour I will leave for my appointment at the Apple store and see what's going on. Wish me luck; I haven't backed up anything in three weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't that $25 on a checking account with no direct deposit? And would have fees charged if you dip lower than, say, $500?

(As far as I know, BoA has no fees for direct deposit, and a $500 minimum as the cheapest otherwise.)