Banking on Bad Behavior

A few weeks ago I was doing a careful review of some bank statements for tax purposes. I noticed a $20 monthly checking fee. Our Prima account at Bank of America is supposedly ‘free’ with a minimum balance, which we’ve always kept well above. They had taken $20 out of our account every month for over a year, totally $280.

I went to BofA to discuss this discrepancy with the bank manager, John. He told me I was being charged because of a glitch in their bank’s software. Apparently Prima accounts didn’t recognize CD rollovers, so it registered we were below the minimum balance even though our CD’s more than met the banks requirements.

John reviewed a few of the statements I brought showing the $20 monthly charges. He told me BofA would return the money back to our account, but the bank’s policy to correct errors, mine or theirs, was only for the last 90 days. The bank would credit our account only $60, not the $280 they took. In other words, since I didn’t catch THEIR mistake in THEIR time allotment, they were keeping most of the money they virtually stole from our account.

When I expressed objections to John’s decree he pawned me off to the V.P. Teddi. She was even less amicable. She repeated the banks policy with conviction, told me that she could not do anything about ‘policy,’ and when I balked at this she told me she didn’t care for MY attitude. I refused to be dismissed, threatened to Tweet about BofA’s fraudulent policy, and/or call the local news and lodge a complaint, and only then did she input my account number into her computer. She couldn’t find the charges on her screen but she refused to look at my statements and then threatened that it would cost me $20 per hour if I wanted this issue ‘researched’ further.

By this point I'm livid, and getting angrier every minute I fought with them. As a mom/wife/novelist/blogger my time is tight, and valuable. Standing there arguing over $220 wasn’t exactly cost effective. But now I felt compelled to address the principle of this issue. I’d been a customer of BofA for over 35 years. Teddi should have told me she’d look into the problem immediately, humbly apologize for their mistake and assure me that my account would be credited the money taken, with interest. Instead she wrote down an 800 customer service number I’d already called and excused herself to assist another customer.

It took another week but BofA begrudgingly credited my account the entire $280. I spent hours on the phone, an hour plus at the bank and multiply that by the three other times last year I went there over this issue, add on my boiling frustration over BofA’s morally vacant maze most wouldn’t have the time or will to run, and never once did Teddi or John or anyone at Bank of America apologize for the bank’s error.

My bank is no longer a ‘trusted institution.’ Teddi and John exemplify most workers in corporate America today. Both had the power to at least assist me and chose not to, instead maintaining and touting BofA’s policy to steal. Like so many other large corporations, they’ve amassed a workforce that purports corporate policies, effectively absolving individual responsibility. They had no incentive to do the right thing. Employees are rewarded for upholding the rulebook regardless if the policies within serve anyone but a few controlling interests of the company. Managers become VP’s by endorsing corporate policy, promoting willful blindness to corrupt practices.

It recently happened on Wall Street, and collapsed the economy.

It happened in Nazi Germany. A documentary called Shoah shows an interview with a Nazi train operator making the daily schedules to pick up and drop off prisoners of war to concentration camps. When asked how he felt about knowingly taking thousands to die horrifically he claimed he was just doing his job. He’d done nothing wrong. He was a good man, a family man, a patriot following his government’s ‘policy.’


P.A.Brown said...

Ah yes, just doing what you're told or it's the company policy and I just work here, are such wonderful way to absolve you of responsibility. That seems to be the way of it these days. No one is responsible for their own behavior. Goes along hand in hand with 'if I don't see it, then I don't have to do anything about it'.

Anonymous said...

I used to bank with BoA, until they did this kind of thing to me. The first time, I did the same thing you've done, I fought with them til they fixed it. The second time, I closed my account and moved to a different bank.

Floyd said...

They are doing this kind of thing to me RIGHT NOW. I am also a father/blogger/tweeter/worker/close to graduating college student and have been a customer for as long as I've had a bank account (maybe 10+ years). I was charged a maintenance fee, which overdrafted me, which they ended up charging 2 more fees on and refuse to pay anything back to me except the original maintenance fee. Foolish.

I'm going in to the bank to speak to a real person who I kind of sort of have that 'personal' connection with because I've dealt with them before / grew up with their kids and am going to plead my case (which is not flawed) one more time and then close the accounts.

I am very disappointed in the customer service that I got when using their online chat. And fully expect to be disappointed by their in-store people after reading this blog post. I will let you know how it goes.

Ginny said...

I had good luck with BoA. I found an error, the service rep saw the same error & corrected it. Next month, I saw something else wrong, it created a worse error.I called & step by step with no hostility on either side, everything is fine.

We want people to read our blogs, yet few people take the time to read and review their own monthly statements. That's all you need to do.

J. Cafesin said...

Hi Ginny,
Had I not made them aware of this problem three other times last year, each time met with a promise it would be taken care of, yet never was, I probably would feel less violated.

Floyd said...

Well, after being outright rejected and infuriated by the stupidity and lack of caring of Bank of America's online customer support I went in to the bank... fully expecting little to no help after reading this post (and others), but the guy that was 'in charge' on that Saturday morning took care of my issue. He said he was only doing it 'because my account should have been setup as a student account from the beginning' (I've got 1 year of college left, now) which pissed me off because I've been a customer for 10+ years (back when the bank was still Fleet Bank) and they didn't even have student checking accounts, yet. The reason they should have fixed the issue is because it's stupid that a maintenance fee can bring you in to the red in the first place and then charge overdrafts fees of $35.00 for doing it and another $35.00 because I don't check my online bank account every friggin second to keep track of it when I haven't been making any purchases, but at least I got the fees waived that were incurred to my account (it was overdraft fees that happened because of an overdraft caused solely by a monthly maintenance fee, so you can see how I'd be upset when I had zero dollars to begin with and the next day I look at my account and it's -$80.00 and I haven't even bought anything!).