Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Bank of America:

I was doing some online banking last weekend when I noticed that one of my kids’ student accounts was significantly overdrawn. 


(No, I won’t say which kid.  Yes, I’m protecting the guilty.  And yes, some of our kids’ bank accounts are connected to ours so we can easily transfer money for things like textbooks.) 

By “significant” I mean six separate NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees of $35 each, over a period of less than a week.  That’s $210 in fees for a kid making just pennies more than minimum wage – a kid who’s attempting to contribute to college expenses, knowing that his/her parents are doing all they can, but that having three kids in college simultaneously and one parent unemployed is difficult, at best. 

Granted, it is my adult child’s fault that s/he didn’t keep an eagle eye on the bank account… and granted, bank fees are a necessary evil and meant to sting.  But really?  $210 in a week?  Ridiculous!

When I called the bank and inquired about fees on a student account, I was told that one solution is to have the student (who, remember, barely earns minimum wage and only works during school breaks) apply for a credit card


A credit card?  At 24% interest?  For a non-employed student?  “Sure,” she insisted.  “It’s a good way to avoid those pesky fees” because the money is transferred right from the credit card account to cover the shortage.

Wait a minute!  Now the non-employed student has a credit card bill – with interestand no way to pay it off! (Does this remind you just a little of banks making home loans to people who didn’t have the means to pay them off?!) 

This is a good idea, HOW?

Ohhhh, it’s a good idea for the bank because now they can collect interest on the charged amount and fees when said student can’t pay the bill!  I seeeee!



I’m no whiz with numbers and I’m no economist or financial advisor, but how’s this for an idea:

How about you (Bank of America!) TEXT my kid when s/he comes dangerously close to overdrawing?  The cell phone never leaves my kid’s pocket/purse and texts are part of his/her life anyway, as are ways to swiftly rectify the problem via online or phone banking.  How’s THAT for an idea, Bank of America?  Everything else is automated – why not automate a program like this? You know the technology exists and would be easy to implement, so what’s stopping you?

teen texting

I know you’d be out gazillions of dollars in fees.  I know you’d probably not be opening that credit card account that will likely be ignored – or worse, abused -- when money is tight.  I know this isn’t PROFITABLE in the short term.

But it’s profitable in the long run.  Remember customer service?  Well, this is a service to a customer you probably want to keep, because at some point s/he’ll have to put that college education-enhanced income somewhere and I’d think you’d want it to be with your bank.

Anyone with me on this?  Let’s start a movement!  (But not this week because Seattle is suffering through an unprecedented heat wave and… well, I can’t move.)

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surfie999@gmail.com said...

In Australia, the move is to get rid of those fees....NAB has done so yesterday [ truly] and other major banks expected to follow. These fees stink stink stink for every one!! see www.nab.com.au

Tonya said...

You are SO right on with this. I'm so sick and tired of GREEDY. On the backs of all of us who can least afford these fees. (Or interest. Or you name it). That said, I do highly recommend a credit union in lieu of a bank. They've relaxed their membership requirements so anyone in Washington can now join the Boeing CU, for example. And the fees, interest, etc. tend to me a lot less than a BANK. (Take THAT, bank!)

Anonymous said...

I have been through the same experiences with my 2 sons, and I know exactly what you are talking about.
Lets's start a movement, I am in.
But not this week either because the heat here in Tx ist killing me..
But I am so tired of banks greed.
I mean we are talking about students accounts.
Just unbelievable.

Margaret said...

Those fees boggle the mind! I think a text would be perfect, but as you said, that would take effort and not provide them with interest. However, around my house, that particular child's head would roll.

Renate said...

I closed our Bank Of America account several years ago and signed up with the Boeing Employees Credit Union (you don't have to be an employee). They are non-profit and don't charge you fees for every little thing.

Maria said...

This is why I keep an account open in Minnesota at our (not so small anymore) credit union. I get an email if my account gets below an amount I set. actually there are a host of alerts I can recieve. I also use mint.com's alerts to notify me of large transactions, etc. Works great. I seriously dislike large banks, though we keep one open in order to more easily wire money from Kevin's overseas job(s). :)

Anonymous said...

i second everybody else's suggestions about going with a credit union. my credit union does, in fact, send me text message and email alerts when my money dips below an amount i set. actually, come to think of it, so does my schwab account and my usbank account.... you sure they don't have alert options? i know BofA is lame, but i'm sure you've also talked to the guilty party about monitoring their finances and funds, too. it's not the bank's fault they spent more than they had, and sometimes all the text messages in the world won't help a person.


zia said...

I ditto the credit union. BECU rocks. For profit banks are evil. BofA is particularly evil. I had my biz account with them for a while and I closed it out a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

We left BoA for a reason. You have to keep an eagle-eye on the accounts. They will hold out and not deduct for over a week sometimes. If you forget about that $6 Starbucks purchase you are SCREWED. One time we even pulled out money at an ATM at 8pm one night, the next morning at 8am we were overdrafted a couple hundred (while living on unemployment - we didn't have much money to begin with!) because of a ton of fees because BoA holds out on deducting debit transactions. This is 2009 - everything happens instantly. It's ridiculous. We have been happy with BECU since. I really believe BoA targets those who do not make much to begin with and may not keep much money in the account - and wait until you are dangerously low on purpose. They were just horrible.

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