Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bank of America.. no longer a bank for the people

If you know me at all, Im merely cynical about how corrupt corporations are. So for me to say this, it is serious.

If you bank or do business with Bank of America - check your statements, close your accounts, transfer your business elsewhere. I guarantee you, they are stealing money from you every quarter. Their banking practices are that corrupt.

If you dont already have a BofA account, do not ever do business with them.

First Union Corp (which bought Bank of America) had such a bad reputation ethically, that people were leaving them in droves, which is why they had to change their name, (nee Nations Bank, nee Bank South - plus other banks in the south theyve absorbed). It is the same company with the same practices, even in states where they are held in check, as theyve figured out ways to skirt these regulations.

Theyve hit me with many unexpected fees before, but never overdraft fees, as I always make sure I never spend more than I have. This past week, they literally forced an overdraft on my account (email me and I'll tell you how they can do that, a new trick I hadnt heard about) and with that emptied my bank account except for 5 dollars. I called them and the service rep refunded half my money and literally 1 hour after I got off that call (after banking hours), they added MORE fees on the account, wiping me out.

Once I checked into what recourse I had, I found out that what theyre doing might be criminal if you have a lawyer on your side, but it isnt illegal unless you call your congressman.More investigation yielded news that this has been standard operating procedure for the last 3 years with B of A.

In particular, their shenanigans on overdrafts.

Nothing I can do either, as their posting records change like ether before they have to issue final paper statements. All I can do is consider my money gone (!), make sure I dont give them another excuse to slap another fee and have me owe them more money (so far, $170 in charges on an original $3.27 overdraft - I wish I were lying), and get as far away as I can from them.

Bank of America. Unethical. Corrupt, Criminal.

Yes, they are that bad.

An anecdote to this, where I saw one of their OWN employees cry...

The guy who was helping me at the branch I went in angry, told me that they wrongly charged him over $2,400 of fees on $18,000 line of credit he had taken out with the bank. When he tried to get those fees taken off - THEY REFUSED. He had no recourse, and because he still works there, he had to pay that fee out of his own pocket EVEN THOUGH HE HAD OVER $8,000 left on his line of credit. That he was an employee of BofA for over 10 years mattered not.

Tears of frustration was coming down his face as he told me this in his office.

If they did this to one of their own employees, think what they'll try to get away with you.


Shane said...

Joe, unfortunately this is the case with all major banks these days! I was with Washington Mutual for a few years and they habitually screwed me as well. I finally stopped doing business with them too.

The only safe bet these days is dealing with a credit union, any credit union. Say sayonara to the big corporate banks!

Anonymous said...

Joe, you really ought to check you facts before you start your rants... First Union bought Wachovia, and took Wachovia's name. If you got this so wrong, how much should we believe about the rest of your "facts"?

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you don't explain what the issue was or how they "forced" your account to overdraft. I think it might be time to take some responsibility on this one . . . bank overdraft fees are completely avoidable if, as you say, you don't OD your account.

Joe said...

1) You are correct, it was NATIONSBANK that bought Bank of America, not First Union. .

Either way, I was not fond of First Union, nor am I of the Bank of America.

2) Here's how my account got overdrawn:

I went and had a meal on 4/28 at a greek restaurant. It cost me $11.39 + tax. At the time, my account balance was $22. The pending transaction triggered a temporary hold of $25, as many restaurants do until they receive funds. That in and of itself didnt cause the overdraft, my then going to 7-11 and buying coffee and donuts for $3.57 caused the overdraft condition.

The pending transactions triggered 2 overdraft fees totalling $50.

I then went to a Cold Stone Creamery and bought ice cream. That $6.00 charge on a now negative balance caused another $25 fee. I then bought 2 bananas at another 7-11, that $1.07 caused another $25 fee.

Having now caused $100 in fees in 2 hours, my account lay dormant, until I called BofA. When I got off the line, there were two OTHER NSF fees of $35 each, It wasnt made clear why these were triggered, but when I looked at my account, transactions made on 4/28 - I got coffee at starbucks - BEFORE my account went into a negative balance made for SIX overdraft occurrences, which triggered the now higher fees.

Total fees from that initial overdraft = $170.

Here's how they caused it...

If you use your debit card, and your account is in or close to a negative balance, the transaction will NOT be declined. Oh no. This isnt like it used to be.

The transactions are ACCEPTED and paid to the merchant. This is called a courtesy payment on a NSF condition. In other words, they will charge you that OD AND NSF fees.

Still confused as to how they triggered the OD condition? My PENDING transactions triggered an overdraft condition. My POSTED transactions, done several days later on 5/1 (not 4/28 or 4/29) ALSO triggered OD conditions.

Remember, I didnt actually spend the money and overdrafted my account. The HOLD caused a negative balance, and every transaction after that that wouldve been normally declined were sent through on the negative balances. That was MY fault, eh?

Wait till it happens to you. You can call your congressman then.

Oh, and by the way - I had never overdrafted my BofA account before then in the 4+ years I have been their customer. I am usually VERY careful about not doing that.

Maybe being in LA went to my head, or BofA takes 5-7 actual days to post electronic transfers from paypal to my account, which is why I had the silly idea that there were enough funds to cover my wild spending spree.

The reason why I didnt get into it is because it is long and complicated and I am STILL quite pissed.

Shane: Im looking into other banks. My only issue with credit unions is that theyre local and Im not sure I'll be in LA for very long.

Love, Poo said...

Seems like the gubmint issued them a licence to steal, I thought it was insurance companies had that sewed up. Bahstids.

Joe said...

I know. Im hoping when Bush and Friends go, there will be criminal trials for the CEO's of banks, oil and telecommunications companies.

It particularly burns me because the money taken were gifts from friends. It feels like THEY were robbed of their hard earned and that bothers me.

But, I cant let it eat at me, all this likely happened for a reason and it'll turn out to be for the best.

Shane said...

No worries, I thought it may be the lesser of some major evils.

I'd bet my left nut those first two anon. posts are from some BOA company man.

Joe said...

Heh, any bank I choose now will be, by necessity, the least of the evils.