TCF bank penalizes kid with $4.85 in his account by charging him $234.95 in fees in two weeks

A young man left $4.85 in his TCF Bank account. TCF assessed him a $9.95 "maintenance fee" for not having enough money in his account. Then they charged him for being overdrawn by $5.10 (ten cents more than he was allowed by their rules). In less than two weeks, they'd assessed so many fees and penalties against the account holder that he owed them $229.10. All for having the temerity to have a low-balance account. The bank said it was his own fault for not having more money. Finally, they relented -- only after being contacted by a newspaper.

"I try to raise my children the right way and if my son would have overdrawn this account because of spending money he didn't have we would have made him take care of it," she said. "But what TCF did is not right. Money is tight right now and if this is their way of making money, they need to be stopped."

Ganziano said the entire goal of setting up the account was to teach her sons how to be smart with their money.

"When they get zapped this way, why would they trust a bank?" she said.

Bank fees that overdraw teen's account have mom seeing red


  1. Here’s a conversation I had with my daughter recently about her opening a bank account:

    Me: they require a $25 minimum
    Girl: What if you have less than $25?
    Me: They take money out.
    Girl: They take your money?
    Me: Yes. Unless you keep a minimum balance.
    Girl: …
    Girl: Robbers! The bankers are robbers!

  2. “When they get zapped this way, why would they trust a bank?”

    I’d say the kid already learned a very valuable lesson.

    1. Q: “When they get zapped this way, why would they trust a bank?”

      Yep.  Seems like there might be hope for the next generation.  Of course, maybe they’ll just be so disenfranchised by the widening class gulf that they’ll have no choice but to take action.  A boy can dream, can’t he?

      1. They learnt a better lesson, deregulation. How a corrupt few today, will screw millions tomorrow.
        Everyone is starting to learn why all those regulations were forced upon banks years ago, a lesson that children are now paying the price of their parents forgetfulness.
        Next time Republicans scream, less regulation, this is exactly what they are talking about.

    2. I learned this lesson from my Depression-era grandparents.  I used to get odd looks from people when I told them I don’t trust banks, but no more.  I also remember getting at least 5% interest on a simple savings account. lol

  3. The “kid” in the story is 18. He’s an adult. Don’t make it more bleeding heart than it needs to be.

    The story highlights the “poor tax” that our society levies. Out of money? Pay a fine. Need a loan with no prior credit? Pay more. Can’t afford to keep $1000 in your checking? We need “maintenance fees.”

    Don’t muddy banks’ gangster behaviors by pretending they preyed on a child

    1. “Kid” is a murky word. I agree that the article is misleading, but on the other hand, if his parents are taking care of these sorts of things instead of having him do it himself, I’m not sure he’s entirely an “adult”. 

      The other misleading part is that this article makes it sound like he took $4.85 to the bank and deposited it, when the original article makes it sound like he took deposited some much larger amount and then spent most of it. I consider that more misleading than the bit about calling him a “kid”, since the point of having the bank account in the first place was to teach him fiscal responsibility.

      1. The point of having a bank account is keeping your money safe and accessible. He didn’t spend more than he had, so he WAS fiscally responsible.

      2. What? 

        The title specifically states “with $4.85  in his account”; what’s hard to understand about that? Maybe “with $4.85 left in his account” might work for you, but it’s still the same. 

      3. Seeing as how you can’t open an account with less than the minimum balance for the account it would be kind of stupid to assume that’s what happened.

        1. Unless they changed the rules on him. I have a citi-bastard account that has changed the rules on my “free checking” account about 7 times. 5 in the last three years. So, it is quite possible he started with no min. balance, and now has to have a certain amount or pay a fee. 

        1. Tell her whatever you want, she won’t listen anyway.  She’ll be too busy with her hippity-hop music and vidya games.

    2. Re: Poor Tax bit.

      I’m not sure how there came to be such a divide between banks in the US and the UK.   If I leave £1 in my account my bank don’t start charging me for it.  Same for debit card usage, getting money out of ATM’s and so on.

      Just boggles my mind that you guys would let it legally stand.  

      1. Sarah, that’s not completely true. 

        1. Banks in the UK certainly have experimented with chequing accounts with a minimum deposit.  I agree it’s not usual, but it does happen.

        2. It’s quite normal for saving accounts here to have a minimum deposit. 

        3. The story is not that different from one that happened to me here in the UK; I went a few pence overdrawn by accident, and by the time I noticed, with fees it was over £50.  That’s hardly an uncommon story here; ask around, I’m willing to bet someone you know will tell you they’ve suffered it, too.

        1. Do any banks still offer a chequing account in the UK?  I haven’t even seen a chequebook for 20 years.  The last actual cheque I saw was my tax refund, which was just a laser-printed page that I took to the bank.

          1. How do you pay your rent without a checkbook? Assuming that your landlord is a person, not a conglomerate.

          2. How do you pay your rent without a checkbook?
            Cash? Also, most banks are now offering a free online “Pay your bills” service where they send out a check for you.

          3. Cash? Also, most banks are now offering a free online “Pay your bills” service where they send out a check for you.

            Cash certainly would be difficult for me since my landlord is 550 miles away. And do banks really send out checks for free? How does the postage work? My bank offers ‘bill pay’ for $6.95 per month, or free if I keep at least $5K in my accounts. Seems like more rigamarole than just writing that one check per month.

          4. And…AND…just looking at the terms of the bill pay agreement have caused me to be enrolled. Lovely.

            Although it does give me yet another opportunity to see that they have a pre-2006 cell phone number and a pre-1992 home phone number for my account, despite 30 or 40 attempts to change them. I’m glad to see that those banking fees are going toward keeping my information current.

          5. Until getting into the mortgage game I always paid my rent via direct deposit. Internet banking man, its the way of the future! Cheques to me  seem arcane.

          6. “How do you pay your rent without a checkbook?”

            I’ve paid by cashier’s check or money order every month for the past fifteen years. I never worry about a bounced rent check. 

            Recently, I’ve been doing the online bill pay. That’s awesome – paying my rent from anywhere. 

          7. I pay all my bills via internet – rent, power, phone, Credit. Most retailers in Australia won’t even ACCEPT cheques today.

    3. Really? 18 makes one an adult ‘eh. unless you were raised by the 1% you are essentially a child till 40 and even then if one lacks a true education one would still be essentially a child in the grand scheme of things.  Also those claiming Banks are preying  on either child, adult, or elder with ridiculous fees/taxes muddy nothing.  How clear is this information in allowing one to perceive what bankers really are….   …parasites. 

    4. NOPE! If people would learn to read on, they might be educated. The next article on this “Mom seeing red” specifically states “a year ago!” That would make him duhhhhh oh seventeen, under the age of being an adult! Come on people! learn to look more into issues, instead of being lazy and opining without all the facts.

  4. Welcome to the real world kid. Pay up.  Oh your 10, well get a job you hippie. Oh, you can’t get a job? Well your allowance is ours, with interest,  for all of your tweens. Get used to being in debt, you’re an American.

  5. The basic idea here is nothing new – same thing happened to me when I closed out a BofA account many years ago. They left a $0.10 rounding error in the account and then proceeded to rack up fees against that, sending us a bill a few months later. Of course back then it simply took a call to their customer service to clear everything up. These days things are a bit more cutthroat.

  6.  “It ain’t a crime to be poor, but it might as well be.” (attributed to several different humorists, including Will Rogers and Vonnegut.)

  7. He agreed to those terms when he opened an account. Hopefully he did learn a lesson, read the fine print and regularly check your account balance.

    1. Sorry to say this but there’s no other word for it. You’re a dick.

      I’m old enough to remember it never used to be this way. Yeah, we’re customers and we can choose to go elsewhere, as flugfrei says to you. But to not see this as a symptom of a larger problem is mindboggling.

      1. You’re old enough to remember it never used to be this way? But it is this way now. Did the teller used to know you by name too? ;)

        The the recent banking act regarding overdraft fees is an excellent step in curbing this sort of thing but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to keep track of their account balances. It’s a very basic requiremtn to having a bank account.

        1. actually, in this age of fancy computertronics, keeping track of your account balance shouldn’t be a big deal.

          banks would have you believe it takes three days to “process” your atm withdrawals, “check card” charges, etc, but in reality, they are processed immediately.

          banks intentionally lag their transactions because.. (clutches pearls..) they can in turn take your money from you.

          the argument that you should be writing things in your checkbook register is no longer valid. banks know exactly when you spend your money.. you’ll notice this when you go to a credit union.

          i’m talking 30 seconds after the transaction.

          they draw it out so they can steal your money. they just take it. and the ones most affected are the ones with the least money.. obviously.

          why in the fuck did my taxes go to these bastards again?

        1. Yeah, you did.

          He agreed to those terms when he opened an account. Hopefully he did learn a lesson, read the fine print and regularly check your account balance.

          That’s saying that anything you implicitly* agree to is moral.  There’s really no other way to interpret it.

          *Because we all read the full user agreement including fine print, right?

      1. Yes. Because we are all taught to believe that the world is already just, it can be easier to blind ourselves to injustice, to hate the powerless and love the powerful, than to recognize the injustice.

        Victim-blaming, authoritarianism, the prosperity blasphemy, all these are rooted in the just-world theory…

  8. “if this is their way of making money, they need to be stopped.”

    this is their way of making money.. they just take it. carry on.

  9. I’m having a somewhat similar issue with my (former) bank right now. I need to read up about small claims court because the bank won’t budge and they are compounding fees.

    1. Burn it down! Burn them all down and make it personal.

      But first, move everything to a credit union.

      THEN burn down all the goddamned banks and as much of Wall Street as possible.

      Why, yes, I HAVE had quite enough of BOA/Citi/WellsFargo/etc, etc, et fucking cetera.

    2. Can you just walk away? It’ll probably fuck your credit, but if you can deal with that you won’t have the hassle of trying to make your bank behave itself.
      I walked away from mine a few years ago. I switched to a credit union and sent my bank an email saying I was done letting them steal my money and if they wanted to keep trying they would have to fight me for it. I think I had around $15 in my account when I quit using it. I have no idea how many fees they tried to nail me with after that but I’m sure it added up into the hundreds. They sent me mail for about a year but I never opened any of it. I do still get robocalled, but I don’t answer the phone unless it’s someone I know. I don’t know what my credit score is, I don’t care anymore. 

  10. What amazes me is that someone at the bank let this kid open an account in the first place knowing full well the initial balance would be eaten whole the moment it opened.

    1. When I was a kid, we were encouraged to open bank accounts so we can learn how to save and to understand how banks work. My meagre kid’s income would have been a few bucks at the most. There were no fees that I recall.

      I mean, I guess this kid did learn a lesson of sorts but it’s a very different lesson from the one I learned about fiscal responsibility.

      1. 20 years from now, he’ll look at the society that tried to rob him when he was a kid, that illegalized just about everything, that has no jobs for people like him, and he’ll try and burn it down-and it’ll completely deserve it.

      2. My first bank account was a ‘student’ account- no fees until I was 27 (most student discounts in Europe go up t0 26). And now, I still don’t pay any fees, since I do all the banking online. Some banks do it right. I’ll bet you anything that the ones that don’t don’t explicitly tell you. Caveat emptor, sure, but stars above, one should be able to trust people just a little bit!

        1. I have a free student checking account in the U.S. and I’m 40 years-old (also opened at 40.)

          This account is unadvertised…it is not in the bank literature and they don’t volunteer its existence. You must request it.

    2. From the original Times article: “At first things went smoothly, but as the money in his account dwindled, he began to ignore it.”

      In other words, he started with much more and then spent most of it.

  11. Wachovia did this to me about ten years ago. My checking account dropped down to $3 and some change, so they hit me with a $4 fee and overdrafted the account, which tacked-on a $35 fee on top of that, which overdrafted the account again. The account got stuck in a feedback loop of overdraft fees.

    Long story short, by the time I caught up with them the following morning, they’d racked up over $300 in fees and penalties on the account. I printed out a detailed transaction list for the account and took it to my nearest branch, where I commenced to raise hell and stick my finger in people’s chests for an hour. To shut me up, they erased all but $20 of the fees. They wouldn’t budge on that last $20 no matter what, so I eventually just paid it.

    I met a woman a few months after that incident, working at a QT not too far from my house. She said Wachovia took her for about $9000 using a similar snowball method, and she’d hired a lawyer to help her fight the bank.

    Like I said, this was all about ten years ago, long before people decided to get collectively angry at the swindlers. Of course, Wachovia is no more, but the sleazy assholes who ran it are still alive and still doing business. To me, that seems wrong. I’m all about the French Revolution-style retribution.

    Take the advice you’ve already heard and move your money to credit unions or small-town banks. Avoid the overgrown outfits.

    1. That $3 something account getting a $4 fee is a particularly clear example of how it’s just supposed to tip you into overdraft. 

      I wonder if there’s a bank where the maintenance charge *isn’t* more than the minimum account.

    1. Sure… cash that won’t be worth very much after a few years of inflation, and which doesn’t allow for any kind of return on investment or interest or anything (because of inflation, it’s a negative return on investment).

      It’s not the concept of keeping your money in a bank (or otherwise invested) that’s the problem.

        1. Not much, but my point is more that if you plan to actually ever do anything with your money that keeping it in a bank or credit union is far more effective than burying it in a jar in your yard. 

          Especially if you’re an “old folk” as the comment I replied to implied – what exactly are these old people planning to do with their buried money? 

          I’m not defending the bank’s actions here. That’s what I said there’s nothing wrong with the concept of banking. Obviously, the current reality of banking is a different story.

          1. “my point is more that if you plan to actually ever do anything with your money that keeping it in a bank or credit union is far more effective than burying it in a jar in your yard.”
            With today’s interest rates on savings so close to zero you might as well bury it in the yard. 

          2. @ @redtimmy:disqus 

            I know. I didn’t quite make myself clear (I decided to try writing a concise comment for once, rather than rambling on like I usually do).

            In a sane society, this wouldn’t be the case. The bank would be the safe and convenient place to keep your money. But the multinational banks are out of control, and we reward them for it with bailouts paid for by our taxes.

            Well, I can’t say their bailouts were paid for with my taxes, since the economic crash they caused has meant that I haven’t been able to find a job since finishing grad school nearly two years ago!

        1. Yes, but I’m not defending sleazy banks – I’m defending the concept of keeping your money in a bank (or in low-risk investments), which it would be difficult to logically argue is a worse  idea than storing cash in a mattress or in a jar in the yard.

          I suppose I can imagine some situations where keeping all your cash in a jar is the answer (and being a kid without any money is one such situation, though that doesn’t necessarily apply to the 18-year-old from this story), but that’s on practical grounds, not ideological grounds (which is what “old folks” keeping their money in jars presumably care about).

          In Thailand (and presumably other similar countries which I haven’t been to), people who live in villages often have the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of US dollars in coins and small bills hidden under their shacks. They live in squalor, but hoard like misers (reminds me of the farmers in Seven Samurai who hoard expensive gear taken from dead samurai, but are poor as dirt outwardly). In order to participate in the modern Thai economy, though, they also have bank accounts.

  12. Cripes, there’s been times (such as last Thursday) that I’ve had less than $5 in my bank account, and I’m 46 years old with a full-time job.

    With the kinds of obscene profits the financial industry has been pulling down in recent years, the concept of a “maintenance fee” is a bit ridiculous.

    Of course, then again, that’s WHY they’re pulling down obscene profits. A tax on being poor, as someone upthread put it.

    1. At this point it’s pretty much a tax on being a major bank customer. The old truism about the lottery comes to mind (I say with an active 23yr BofA account still)

  13. There are also plenty of terrific local banks (I’ve no opposition to Credit Unions, mind you).  I use local, family-owned Mechanic’s Bank in the East SF Bay for my business account which swings wildly from very flush to near-zero and they’ve never given me any trouble or hit me with a nickel in fees.  Why people rant about the service from BofA or Wells or Wachovia when they can get great personal service from honest, thoughtful, personal bankers is strange to me.  Your money is just as safe with Bank of the South Ozarks or whatever than it is with the big guys.

    1. How are they at offering debit cards? That’s pretty much the only thing I really need a bank for at this point anyways, and I’ve been wanting to get rid of my TBTF account for a while.

      1. Just a suggestion: get a credit card through the bank or credit union and use it like a debit card. Most banks/CU’s offer online billpay (ask them, of course). So what I do is use the credit card for most of my transactions, then log on whenever I get a chance and pay the debt off.

        It’s not quite as convenient as a debit card, but the trade-off is that responsible use of a credit card can improve your credit score. A debit card can’t do that.

  14. I love it.  The comments are full of people who for the most part know how to manage their money bitching about how the banks are evil…

    Where as this kid, along with millions of adults, don’t have the foggiest clue how to manage money.  Like someone else said, he opened the account and agreed to the terms.

    I have a relative that works at a bank and this is fairly common, not like once a week, but multiple times a day.  Some people overdraft their accounts every week.  And that’s okay?  Because we are being nice about it?  No, no it’s not okay.  Just like some people can’t understand balancing a check book, they can’t understand contracts, rules, and fees.

    If you want to fix it make debit cards negative balance denied, make sure people are signing up for accounts they can use and understand, and start teaching kids/adults about how to use money.

    1. If that’s what you’re reading in these comments, then you have some basic comprehension problems. First of all, read the story again. It’s not about being overdraft.

      1. It appears bcsizemo didn’t comprehend the main post, either. There was never an overdraft until they charged a fee for what they decided was too small a balance. 

        People who stand up for these usurious, greedy practices never cease to amaze me.

    2. So how much does it cost the bank per month to maintain an account? With a paperless statement, probably a penny or two. 

      So those “millions of adults, don’t have the foggiest clue” that banks often charge fees, not because it’s a fair exchange of value, but because they can. 

      1. I suspect that the cost to a bank of running one more account is way under a penny a month. To the bank it’s one more record in its database.

        I’m not saying it’s cheap to run a whole bank but the proportion of the bank’s total operating costs that go into managing an individual checking account with $4.85 in it is pretty tiny.

    3.  Lets not forget that as a matter of policy and programming, banks will pay/clear the largest amount check first when they have a choice, that results is in the lesser checks failing to clear and racking up multiple fees which further drain the account which triggers more fees. Where as, if they cleared the smallest amounts first they would not generate nearly as many bounces and fees.

      1. Where I once again am thankful for my small-town bank.  They usually post the smaller checks first and have been known to hold a check from posting on a Thursday, knowing that your direct-deposit comes in on Friday.  

  15. *gasp* It’s almost as it it might make good long-term business sense to take perhaps a small administrative loss on maintaining a child’s low balance account so they may become customers for life as an adult. Too bad shareholders demand their profit *now*

    1. Absolutely, when it comes to more important transactions — looking for where to keep his business account or even just his mortgage that kid is going to run a freaking mile.

  16. A poor tax. Exactly.

    By the way, this happened to me just this week… and I’m with a credit union.

  17. this is where it should be law- the minimum balance you can have on your account is zero. But it’s for people who hold small balances that admin fees got introduced- to zero then negative those accounts. To speed it up they add a minimum balance of $whatever, closing account fees… then if anyone attempts to regulate this stuff, pay lobbyists to claim that regulation will destroy the banking industry, just like Canad- oh wait not banks collapsed in Canada? hmm pardon me.

  18. This has happened to me, multiple times. I am naive enough to believe that if I am not the one that overdrafts, it’s not my fault. Last time, the bank agreed with me and refunded some of the fees, but not all — because they had reversed something earlier the same year, and had a policy against making too many corrections in one year, regardless of fault.

    And the thing that bugs me most? It was a change in policy. The only part of my opening contract (who really reads those? The same people that read all 60+ pages of iTunes’ EULA?) that I *should* have read was “we reserve the right to make changes without notice.”

    Currently I have *no* bank account and must take a bite to get paychecks cashed, because my situation doesn’t allow me to consistently have over $5 or $10 or whatever dollars.

      1. Oh, I am not with them any more. When I left BofA, they told me I’d never be able to get another bank account anywhere else.  It wasn’t true, but the same tactics exist in the other two banks I have been with since then. So I plan to start up with a credit union soon — just kinda delaying on it, like a kicked puppy trying to trust a new owner.

        1. I hear ya. I opened a credit union account a couple months ago. I’m in SF, so I went with San Francisco Fire Credit Union. The process took about twenty minutes or so. It was easy, just answering a lot of very basic questions. I even got to pick a photo for my custom debit card, which arrived a few days later. 

          My point is that you can do it right now, at your computer, instead of reading this blog. Half an hour from now, you could have your account set up. And trust me – you will feel empowered by the experience. No need to wait! :-)

        2. Wait…how can one not be able to get a bank account? Is this a US thing? I’ve never heard of a bank refusing a client. Sure, some banks have minimum starting deposits, but they’re generally very low, and some banks don’t have them at all.

          1. Wait…how can one not be able to get a bank account? Is this a US thing?

            I don’t know if it’s legal, but you can certainly be blackballed if you’ve walked away from a big overdraft or written bad checks.

            You also have to have documentation that the bank considers acceptable in order to open an account. Of course, the acceptable documentation usually consists of things that you can’t get unless you already have a bank account.

  19. I’ve been a BofA customer since 1983. Back, then there was still a carryover of its founder: Amadeo Giannini. Read his biography sometime. Giannini innovated open plan seating – no more deals behind closed doors. When the board of directors got greedy, Giannini would resign in protest. I think Giannini would have gotten OWS; I think he would have seen it as opportunity to build a bank that people would trust. 
    So, it’s really sad to see what BofA has become. They still do a few thinks right. I tried to get a chargeback from a disreputable merchant charged on a credit union card, but they couldn’t manage. On another transaction, BofA came through – scale has a few advantages. But wow, buying into the toxic waste that is Countrywide. That might be the last straw. 

  20. Speaking as a banker:  the “kid” was an adult.  The fees were disclosed in his account agreement and announced – repeatedly -in his statements.  The excessive fees are the result of his ignoring his statements and failing to balance and monitor his account.

    Banking services cost money.  Personally, I think we should quit service charging people with small balances.  It would be easier to just refuse their business and to close the existing accounts of deadbeats.

    People have a funny idea about banking.  They think it’s a public service or charity.  It’s not.  It’s really that simple and all adults know this.  Some people simply should NOT have checking accounts since they fail to understand the concept.  If I could make money from that business model, I’d be the CEO, but – alas – idiots are our bread and butter.

    1. it’s not that people confuse banking with a public service, it’s that people don’t realize that banks have become predatory. Obviously banking services cost money, but how much is it costing the bank to hold onto his $5? less than $234. Banks want clients that can’t maintain their minimum balance, they make loads of money off of them.

      1. Not only that, but how hard is it to notify someone that the maintenance fee about to be charged is more than they have in their account?

    2. It’s disingenuous to say this without acknowledging the shift in practices over the past few years. Automatic fees like those in the post just were not present twenty years ago. They’re a new invention and it’s greedy. 

      Also, I missed where it said in the story that “he failed to balance his account.” I always though “balance” meant to keep it above zero, not to keep it above a different, arbitrary number buried within pages of 5-point-font print. 

      1. It’s disingenuous to say that the required information is buried pages of fine print.   Min. account balance and maintenance fees are always easy to find, as they’re one of the first things people consider for a  checking account.   

        TCF Bank checking home page shows that the guy had the TCF Convenience checking account.  The 9.95 fee is and the requirements to avoid it are right there – impossible to miss.

        1.  So you’ve never had a bank change your account terms, I take it?  I have.  They didn’t actually notify me, either.  Exciting stuff!

        2. “It’s disingenuous to say that the required information is buried pages of fine print. ”

          Every month the bank sent* me scads of marketing dreck on financial products for which I have no interest. I’m conditioned to pitch the stuff right into the garbage right after I pull out my statement. Changes to my account? I think “buried” is a fine and proper word: “buried” in a document which is itself “buried” in advertisements.

          “impossible to miss”

          I don’t think “impossible” means what you think it means. Apparently, this kid did miss it, as well as others here in this thread. If one person misses it, then it’s possible to miss. If lots and lots and lots of people miss it, then it’s a trend. 

          * – sent – past tense. I’m with a credit union now. I have no fear they’re trying to rape me every month like I feared from my bank. 

    3. Are you seriously calling this kid a deadbeat? Or even an idiot?

      I dunno, I think some people have never had to zero their account between paychecks, and assume anyone who does is an idiot or irresponsible.

      I think the various forms or poor tax are hugely unethical. Burying policies in fine print is also unethical. Legal? Oh my, yes. But that’s not why people are upset when things like this happen.

    4. I hit like but meant to reply. What is it about brand equity don’t you understand? 

      For example, I develop apps. On iOS (Cory’s favorite platform ;-) the most successful products now use the Freemium model: offer a little something for free but charge for premium features. In fact, Cory does the same thing with his books: I can download a free version or pay for the version that is easily transferred. I’ve download a free book, and have since paid for two others.  

      There are three kinds of exchanges: positive, negative, or equal. Give something with an implicit obligation to get something in return (potlatch), threaten or take something away (military), or negotiate an equal exchange (contract).

      Recently, large banks have threatened governments with economic collapse. So they received a gift of bailouts. That government largesse came with an implied obligation to extend that gift to their customers by loosening up the money supply. The banks didn’t. Instead, the banks used that money to grow larger and give themselves bonuses. Meanwhile, many banks treat their customers, whom have suffered on their behalf, as “deadbeats”.

      I have a different definition of deadbeat and that is: NOT MEETING YOUR OBLIGATIONS. (seemed appropriate to use the all caps that you see on most bank agreements).

    5. Of course banking isn’t a public service, but isn’t the whole idea based on me giving the bank MY money to play with while I’m not using it? Even if they don’t charge any fees, they still get a lot of money from a lot of people that they can put together and use to make profit , most of which will go to the bank itself, and not the clients.

    6. You’re a  banker who doesn’t understand how banks actually make money from holding money- even in small amounts? 

      Is there any reason an account can’t just be closed below a certain amount?

      Sorry, nothing you’re saying is convincing unless you’re a psychopath or inured to institutional psychopathy.

    7. Banking isn’t a public service, but having a bank account isn’t an entirely free choice either.  It’s enormously difficult to do many normal, day-to-day things in America (I won’t speak for anywhere that I haven’t lived) without having a bank account.

      There are options that don’t entail having a bank account, or an account with a big bank, but sometimes these options aren’t practical or practicable.  I’m not saying that anyone should particularly expect the big banks to be anything but for-profit corporations acting in the interests of CEOs and shareholders.  But I am saying that it’s a problem when institutional/societal structures essentially force people to, for instance, have a bank account, if these same institutional/societal structures and pressures don’t always also end up providing people with decent options.

      Making sure that private entities providing necessary services do so in such a ways as to make them reasonably accessible and not-too-exploitative seems like one of the more important things that governments can do in our market-driven society.

    8. Well, you’ve convinced me.  That bankers are subhuman parasites and I’m better off not loaning money to them in the first place. 

      I work in enterprise software so I know the marginal cost of tracking another account.  Quite close to $0.00.  Add to that the incompetence and terrible attitudes of people working at major banks and I start to think maybe I should be charging you assholes fees.

  21. It’s possible to rack up big fees with my British bank, but it’s got a few saving graces:

    (1) they don’t charge fees on fees… so if the transaction that takes you overdrawn is a bank charge, no further charges are accrued…. not until you have a normal transaction debited which takes you further overdrawn, that is
    (2) you always get written notice before penalty charges are debited (pro-tip: read your mail)
    (3) they don’t charge an admin fee merely for holding a low credit balance on an account, but please don’t let the bosses know about this tactic or no doubt they’ll jump on that bandwagon too

  22. This is why you don’t use a bank.  But be careful, NOT ALL credit unions are good guys.  Check out their fees before you join.  Several years ago a family member joined Partners CU and they were about as bad as a bank b/c of the software they used to jack up  fees.
    Remember that as a consumer you should vote with your dollars:  don’t give them to businesses that give bad service or bad value and who do not value and respect you.

  23. Low balance fees are particularly infuriating.  It’s like we’ve forgotten what it means to put money into a bank: we’re actually lending money to the bank (generally interest free), which they can then use to make more money for themselves.  A low balance fee is a way for them to charge us for not lending them enough money.  I wish I had that kind of clout: I’d bill Sallie Mae for being skimpy when I was in school.

  24. There’s no excuse for a fee on low balances to ever be assessable in an amount greater than the balance itself. It ought to simply be illegal.

  25. I have the right to sell people rotten fruit. They have the right to not buy it. Who’s the idiot when a guy buys a smelly rotten apple from me and then comes back to complain about it? Not me, I made a dollar off a piece of trash, and I made no effort to hide the smelly truth about it.

    Try keeping a minimum balance or close your account. The policy is clearly terrible and immoral, but no one made you give them your money.

    1. I think that kind of libertarian thinking has ruined this country. We used to look out for our countrymen. Now, it’s every man for himself. 

      Anyone who has an account with a big bank account is buying rotten fruit. 

      1. I’m not really a libertarian, but I think you have it quite backwards. The problem is not “libertarian thinking,” but the mentality that you shouldn’t have to worry about your own finances because someone else will make sure nothing bad happens. Banks are sleazy and will take advantage of you, no question, but they only reason they can do that is because there are so many uneducated consumers. We could use more self-reliance.

        For example, I know several young, healthy, employed people with few responsibilities who nonetheless seem to be constantly in debt. It’s not because they’re stupid, and it’s not because the system screwed them. It’s just because they were never taught to handle their own money properly.

        1. Education is the key and it starts at home. It takes two people to make a child, and enough of those couples can stick together and live through their kids childhood to teach them right and make a dent in society.

          1. And if those two people (or one person, as is also commonly the case) _aren’t_ properly informed, then they teach their kid potentially damaging misinformation, thus continuing the cycle. 

            Seriously, how do you propose to close the gap?

            My high school _used_ to require kids to take a consumer education class so that they would understand how banking and credit worked. That, like so many other “unnecessary” programs, got cut as state budgets got cut in the early 1990s. It’s a shame, because that was a pretty good way to ensure that kids would learn the basics of how money _actually_ worked.

        2. Got $300 dollars for a regular savings account at B of A?

          What do you think .05%  compounded annually is? Quick! Hurry! Come on, this is simple math! Do you think I think you look stupid? 

          Yes, If your account goes below $300 dollars in ONE day out of an entire month, we charge you $5. Yes, you are only allowed to make  three withdrawals. Any over that, we charge $3. 

          Oh, I forgot, we pay you interest! .05% Don’t be sillll– ….hum, this must be broken….oh! you are right, that’s only half of a half of 1 percent. 

          Well yes, that technically is half of a half of a percent, or .005….um yes, I really wish you hadn’t called your mother over here. Yes, that’s only .15 cents  in earned interest. Wow, that’s a nice calculator you have there on your phone. 

          I have great news, I almost forgot.  WE compound interest per DAY, not monthly like the other guys….You ask what compound means?  Oh, I see your mother is checking….yes, it means .005 divided by 365 and then by 12…..I don’t even know if that’s possible. What? You ask what decimal or fraction of money we recognize or calculate out too? Have you seen that movie Office Space?

        3. Dude, if everyone obsessed over their finances no one would have ever invented the internet.  Making sure that people are “educated consumers” reduces the amount of time and attention they have to become educated anything-elses and actually do something positive with their lives.

      1. Well now that would just be wrong. I also believe that it might be illegal. Banks have to provide you with this information or I’m quite certain you’ve got a golden lawsuit case. Please correct me if that is wrong.

        1. That is absolutely correct. Takes money to sue though…

          If your rotten fruit package has 66 pages of fine print attached, an one line says, “fruit enclosed may be rotten” that is technically disclosing,  but skeezy. I dunno if skeezy is illegal, though, and it would take a lot of money to get the courts to decide.

          1. Then that would definitely be an issue to approach with public policy. I’ve never had that experience myself. Every bank I’ve ever used gave me all information related to fees on separate documents so they would be more obvious to me. I’d gladly support legislation to force transparency if they really are lacking it, but I don’t know in this case whether they were or not.

  26. Try an online bank.  You can keep a penny in there for a year, no problem.  You can open as many accounts as you like.  No fee.  They’ll send you paper checks for free.  If you use another bank’s ATM and get charged a fee, they will reimburse you that fee at the end of the month.  Tons of other stuff too.
    I personally use but there are several others doing basically the same thing.
    The standard advice is to use a credit union, and I won’t argue with that, but my online bank gives me more interest and lower fees than any credit union I have access to.

    1. Ally bank is just a rebranding of GMAC Financial.  Bleah.  No thanks.  Again, I’ll recommend local or regional. 

  27. I read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short last night.  It’s good Even if you find it difficult to root for a hedge fund, read it for Lewis’s insight into how the financial industry thinks. 

    The guest speaker was Herb Sandler, CEO of a giant savings and loan called Golden West Financial Corporation. “Someone asked him if he believed in the free checking model,” recalls Eisman. “And he said, ‘Turn off your tape records.’ Everyone turned off their tape recorders. And he explained that they avoided free checking because it was really a tax on poor people – in the form of fines for overdrawing their checking accounts. And that banks that used it were just banking on being able to rip off poor people even more than they could if they charged them for their checks.

    Eisman asked, “Are any regulators interested in this?”

    “No,” said Sandler.
    “That’s when I decided that the system was really ‘Fuck the Poor'”

  28. According to , TCF National Bank rates a D+.  So, not only do you get shafted there, but your money isn’t very secure either.  Buy locally and bank locally.  Use the link above to find a stable bank in your home town.  The only thing the big guys can offer you are headaches and insecurity.  Between Credit Default Swaps and rehypothecation, those TBTF banks won’t be TBTF for very much longer.  And you don’t want to be connected to them when they finally do fail.

      1. Actually, almost all the worlds faiths have this among their other things to fight against. And if you’re on the other side, you’re heading straight to hell.  

        Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t about men having sex with each other, it’s about this exact subject.  

        Ezekiel: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.”‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters (sister cities) were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

        Ergo, Banks are run by “haughty gluttons who are doing detestable things”.  

        These are words whose base meanings have been forgotten. 

        Haughty: disdainful, contemptuous, snobby, arrogant, lordly
        Gluttony: Excessive indulgence (of anything). 
        Detestable: abominable; repugnantly, hateful, loathsome,  objectionable. 

        For me, of all these, “Repugnantly Hateful” is the worst. It means that these thieves don’t feel bad about what they’ve done and continue to do. It means that we are to look DOWN on them as repulsive, objectionable and offensive. 

        If I hire an electrician, by your definition, I should know exactly what they are doing and be blamed if they make a fool out of me. Should I hire a second to watch the first? A third to watch the second?

        In reality, most electricians have licenses, and they received that for a reason. Banks are licensed and certified too. I am licensed as a nurse. My patients rely on me to NOT abuse them, that’s actually contained in my license. Most banking staff are certified, licensed or hold degrees. 

        This leads to why I’m responding to your post;  It’s  called the Law of Reliance: reliance n. acting upon another’s statement of alleged (supposed – reputed – so-called – professed) fact, claim, or promise. 

        Bank of America sold me on Keep the Change and U.S. Airways mileage card. But I can’t have both, the plans cancel each other out, they are considered Specialty programs. So I haven’t had a single KTC match or a single air mile, and it’s been a year. I’m looking for another bank.

        Jesus: “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.

        ‘”Proverbs: Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

  29. “why would they trust a bank?”
    Lol, why would anyone trust a bank? They’re all thieves and vampires anyway.
    That mom needs a serious reality check if she wants to raise kids able to cope with this twisted society we happen to live in.

  30. I like how people can be straight faced with “Bank’s aren’t evil”.  My wife used a back in college simply because it had a branch both near the campus and up near her parents.  The bank’s initials were FU, and that’s how she referred to it.

    Some of their policies:
    1. $50 minimum, so at least the situation in the article won’t happen immediately if you just drop a couple of bucks below the minimum.  $50 for a college student can be a lot though.
    2. They assessed the low balance fee once a day.
    3. Withdrawals were processed immediately, but deposits were sat on for a few days.
    4. Despite the fact that they were sitting on the deposits, the amount still showed up in your balance.  If you attempted to spend it, you got hit with an overdraft fee.  The only way to avoid this was to dig down several menus on their website to discover your “available balance”.
    5. Because of the variable amount of time it would take a deposit to actually post (up to a week at times), it was necessary to constantly hit their website to discover what your real balance was. 

    I’m pretty sure the bank considered fees to be “profit”, and they had some guy who’s job was to “maximize profit”. 

    She dumped them the day she left school and never looked back.

    1. So true. Most people never consider the scientific layout of a website. Most of what we complain as “confusing, is actually on purpose. Today is my one year anniversary of my newest B of A account. On the very first day, I singed up for automatic alerts via text and email. Today I received my very first “online purchase made” alert. 

      From day one, B of A has put a damper on all of my alerts that dealt with a decreasing balance and sent me the ones that dealt with an increase in my balance. Make sense? The weekends were terrible, all of my late Friday through early Monday were not posted. In one year I’ve had two overdrafts, both would have been alleviated if I had received an alert; I would have transferred from savings, which would be automatic. (I won’t allow the bank to do it automatically as overdraft)

      But I learned a great lesson, C HAT! EMAIL! SCREEN SHOTS! Get it in writing. You get a transcript and it comes in real handy. I’ve won every argument with B of A,  Sprint, Qwest and Cox, all due to my saved chat logs, emails and screen shots. 

      Remember, ambiguity falls in your favor, you didn’t write the contract. If it’s ambiguous, unclear and imprecise, you win. It just takes a lot of yelling. 

  31. Big banks clearly have a PR problem that is growing. I’m not sure if some of them even care. 

    Credit card divisions seem to have cooled off, following the Credit Card Act in 2009. I guess the realized they made some people mad. 

    Also the Dodd-Frank Act last year giving FDIC more authority to close failing banks.

    Attempt to limit Debit card fees..and legislation to force banks that are too big to shrink.

    I’m pretty sure there is much much more going to try to send a message to these banks, a message they can’t seem to hear. Unfortunately they will always try to circumvent new laws with overwhelming tiny print, and clever tactics, when and where they can and it will only continue to anger people more, who will then contact their representatives and demand stiffer action.

    I think I’m seeing a vicious cycle for banks. Perhaps that too is “life isn’t fair”?

    1. I think it’s quite likely that they don’t care about the PR. It’s just that the people setting and benefitting from these policies never come into contact with the people suffering the effects of the policies while the people enforcing the policies are either literally robots or are getting a pretty bad end of the stick themselves and can’t do anything to change the policies.

      We’re a long way from bank managers who have to see their customers at Church on Sunday (and I mean that in a social sense, not a religious one). People aren’t so quick to do mean tricks and screw victims when the victims are literally their neighbours.

    2. They secretly create a new product or get into another slimy cesspool. 

      How many of you have heard of B of A’s Visa Payroll Card?

      Fees, follow the link if you want descriptions. 

      Where it gets gross is this: charging someone who tries to be responsible. They do this by charging for inquiries. Inquiry Fees, that’s fucked up. 

      Automated Phone?: .50
      ATM? .50
      Blood & Guts by phone?: 1.50

      Also, the card has the VISA Logo, but not the dispute power: You do not receive cash refunds for returns of merchandise or services purchased using your Card. When a merchant gives you a refund, it is made on a credit voucher and will appear on your next monthly Account statement or in your Account history.You must settle any disputes you have about the goods or services directly with the merchant. We are not liable for any misrepresentations that a merchant makes about the goods or services you purchase with your Card, or if a merchant for any reason refuses to accept your Card or fails to abide by the applicable network rules governing your Card.  So what if a merchant accidentally rings up $188 instead of $1.88, it happens all the time. You have to wait a long time to get your $186.12 returned to you. 

      But the one that pisses me is a 5o cent charge for “ATM transaction declined”. They fucking charge you for getting declined at the ATM. One of the primary reasons, barring equipment malfunction, is because you don’t have any fucking money! So what do they do? They take money after you’ve just been told you have less than  $20 in your account! How do they get away with this stuff?

  32. Sigh, this is my bank.  
    Here I thought they were somewhat tolerable because:
    A) They are not connected to the “Too Big to Fail” octopus of TARP banks.
    B) They have really convenient hours and locations inside city grocery stores.

    I’d already resolved to move to my money to a credit union regardless, in solidarity with Move Your Money movement, but I’ve been lazy and haven’t done it yet.

    This is certainly a good reminder to fix that.

  33. Until I can get away from them in the coming year TCF is my regular bank and this is their regular type of MO. They will bleed you with fees and their customer service sucks ass. I suspect that they keep their front line customer service folks well under-trained so people will get frustrated and just let them keep the money.

    I can’t WAIT to move to a credit union…

  34. Holy crap! I just read this in the full article: “Korstange said TCF recently switched from charging people $35 for every overdraft to $28 per day for up to 14 days when an account has insufficient funds.”

    I hadn’t even been aware of that!!! God forbid you have to live check-to-check and slip up on a bill… It’s easy to do, too, since their overdraft notices come via SLOW BOAT mail. I’ve gotten them sometimes a week after the charge hit

    1. I’ve heard of other banks doing that.  Yes, it means if you’re poor and slip up, and can’t pay the fee until you get paid again, you could be looking at a significant portion of the next paycheck going to pay off your bank.  And if that’s the case – well, if you can’t pay a $35 fee, you probably need that next paycheck for things like rent.

  35. I’m part of a class action in Australia that is trying to stop big banks from charging “punishment” fees, charges that bear no relation to the actual cost incurred by the bank. Fuck the fine print, business should and can be undertaken with some basic level of morality.

  36. My university pushed really hard for students to sign up with TCF back in the day; they were a campus benefactor of some kind.  I opened a small account for the free whatever-they-were-giving-away, discovered that their *own* ATMs charged for withdrawals, and eventually ignored that card with $3 left on it. 

    Most likely I now owe them thousands.

  37. As an ex-TCF bank holder, the bank’s practices and marketing are targeted for making money from small checking account holders.  Further their customer service is poor despite the extra open hours.  My experience was with a lost debit card which was immediately reported.  A week later I found the card was never deactivated and lead to a police case which lost me a chunk of money.  TCFs response “we do not show a record of the card being cancelled and you can complete a claim to our office.  

  38. Back in the day of elementary school (70s) we schoolkids were given the opportunity to open a savings account to learn about savings and banks, years later after ignoring the account since not long after establishing it, I emptied it of whatever meager amount was in there.  No nasty fees etc.  the teller was nice, and once I was workign I had been using banks ever since.

    So, what is the moral of this story for kids about banks today?Banks really aren’t there to help you – they are there to collect money from you.

  39. why are there so many apologists for the establishment who come out of the woodwork whenever there’s an anti-establishment article???

  40. And going off on a rant about a relatively unrelated topic (family cohesion/divorce) really contributed a lot to the discussion. Thank you!

    …In all seriousness this really just points out how criminal it all is. It is one thing to charge fees, as in what the account costs the bank to maintain plus a reasonable profit margin, and it is quite another to immediately charge fees on those fees. I know my finances, and my accounts, and have it relatively organized. I made sure I knew what fees were charged and how. Personally I made sure that I never need to have a minimum balance for my account because I only put money in my chequing account that I intend to spend — the rest stays in savings.

    So I know that what happened to this guy won’t happen to me.

    Or do I?

    My chequing actually reaches around $5 very often, and more than once I’ve had to pay in cash for something like a burger or a drink because my debit card said “insufficient funds” as I was a dollar off on what I thought was remaining.  I don’t check my balance and accounts unless I need to do something, I don’t “watch” my money, but I would hardly call that irresponsible.

    But the bank can, and will, change things on the customers. If tomorrow my bank decided that the chequing account type which I have needs to start having a minimum balance I would probably be in the same boat as the guy in this story. Sure, they’d send me a letter about the change (postmarked the day of the change, that’s all they’re required by law) and I’d receive a notice of being overdrawn (sometimes not sent until the end of a business week — again all that is required of them) but likely wouldn’t receive those until the fees stacked up to what this guy had to deal with.

    …Except that I live in Canada, and our government actually has laws in place to prevent that situation here. And yet the banks still turn a tidy profit. Might want to convince your local government official to look north, south and overseas at regulated banking systems that, indeed, work just fine for all involved.

    Addendum: They heard their CEOs liked profits so they put fees on your fees so they can profit while they profit. Dawg.

  41. Bank of America does the same thing, only there, they fine you and start taking your money if you dare to fall below $5,000. I’m changing to a credit union on Jan 1st – I’ve already set it up, there’s just a million automatic payments I need to change away from the bank.

    1. Do you have  a commercial account or something?  None of the normal personal accounts have ever, in teh history of BoA, had a min. balance that high. I assume it’s not an investment account, b/c then falling below your balance wouldn’t be a concern.

      Their Myaccess accounts charge $12/ month if you drop below $1500, but this is avoided if have direct deposit.  If you don’t have a steady job, then the ebanking  has no minimum balance and the monthly fee is waived if you sign up for paperless statements.  

      Either you’re being dishonest or are confused about how your account works.

  42. Fucking the poor is huge business. It’ll be a hard but worthwhile slog to shut it down.

    And at 2 in the morning, that Future of Science 2010 picture looks like a giant, friendly cosmic doggie.

  43. I need to bitch about banks. I had a Commerce Bank account that I used to cash business checks and for eBay/paypal. I rarely had money in it. Because of the auto-withdrawal eBay does for fees now, I ended up going over ~$20. I had no idea about this. Soon after I had $15 deposited via a refund at a store, so I was down ~$5. Then the next month eBay tried to withdraw $7… twice, and they were denied. For a fee each time.

    Long story short, I had over $100 worth of fees and my account closed. It was only after I tried to deposit $300 via paypal and it didn’t appear on my balance, that I figured something was wrong. I asked why no one tried to contact me – a person who had an account with them for ~$10 years, and they ended up having my old address from 3 years ago. Somehow their marketing dept. finds me just find a couple times a month.  Because the account was closed, I was SOL on getting my fees forgiven.

    Yes yes – had I stayed on top of things none of this would have happened. It’s still bullshit.

  44. When I was in college and barely had enough money to buy food, I overdrafted by $9 and Bank One charged me nearly $100.  Even after I put more money in, it took 2 days to “clear” and so they charged me even more!  I can’t believe the kick you when you’re down policies these guys have.

    Switched to WAMU in Seattle, but then Chase bought them and sucked me back into the fold.  I hate that bank so much.  I plan to leave as soon as I move back to the US.

  45. M&I/BMO is no different. I went in to see a bank officer and close my accounts with them for similar situations. Two weeks later the account is $13.00 over drawn because of a charge for Paper statements. If your account is below a certain amount, they will charge you for sending paper statements. Second, my wife had two charges that caused an overdraft and when I contacted the bank later that same day, they told me there was not a way that I could make a deposit to cover the overdrafts. The next day she was charged five overdraft fees. They rearranged the charges that came in on that day so they could get the most overdraft fees

  46. American banks really are scum, aren’t they?

    My personal bank account (which is not in America) not only has no rules about minimum balances, I have attached to it a very affordable credit that allows me to dip a grand below zero at any given time if I happen to have unexpected expenses (or just need to spend a bit more) any given month. 

    If I do overdraw beyond that, I’ll be hit by fees but never for being below any given amount of money beyond the agreed on grand of credit. 

    If I had no such credit attached, I could go all the way down to 0.00 without anyone closing the account or levying fees because of it. In fact, I have a second account with the same bank that currently has something like 0.78 in it, and it’s been that way for a year (my economy took a hit like everyone else’s and I had to use the separate savings money I used to have in it.)

    1. This exists at most banks  in America too, despite what the the tone around here would suggest.  

      I have no minimum balance, no monthly fees,  and 10k  of overdraft protection backed by a credit card.  And this is at the evil Bank of America no less! 

  47. Nobody noticed that the bank charged the boy $229.10 and gave him back only $229.10, 
    so they still ripped him off for $4.85!

    1. Hey “Ryne” .  You know we can see your profile and activity right?  Stick to supporting the worst team in Chicago.

  48. “as the money in his account dwindled, he began to ignore it.”   This seems like a very significant bit of information to conveniently leave out of the post. 

    If you’re going to ignore your financial  accounts, then you need to close them.   This is an important lesson in “being smart with money.” 

    1. And if someone puts up a sign that says “warning:  someone here will shoot you if you laugh too loudly,” and then I laugh too loudly, it is TOTALLY my fault when I get shot.

      Quit the victim-blaming.  Falling victim to a crappy policy is awful.  It doesn’t really matter if the victim “should have” known this or that – the policy exists to take advantage of the fact that a significant number of people *don’t* keep up with such things.  It exists to exploit people. 

      Hell, if you accidentally trip someone and they punch you in the face, who’s more wrong?  **eyeroll**

  49. Typical Banks. They get their fat Bailouts…then they start stealing Money from Customers. The Account was:  $4.85 in Credit .He did not borrow any Money from the Bank. Therefore the bank charges are fraudulent!!!!

  50. I guess it was only a matter of time before the bootlickers/astroturfers came out in force. I remind everybody to refer back to the Boing Boing piece on the proposed smear campaign by that lobbying firm.

  51. I’m not very old (26) but I distinctly remember banks encouraging young’ans to open accounts with them to start saving pennies. There would be no fees, they came with  deposit books. I think the most I ever had in my account was about $200 and that all got spent on Lego after saving my pocket money for years. I’m sure the banks couldn’t have been making money on these accounts. It would have cost them more to run than they ever made loaning out the minuscule amounts in them. Admittedly these were aimed at young kids, not really teenagers, etc. I think they weren’t an option for people over 15. 

    The supposed point of the accounts were to “teach kids about banking and saving, etc”. The real point however was more obviously convincing kids at a young age that Bank X was the best bank to be with, hoping to establish brand loyalty at a young age. Self-serving enough of a purpose but at least it showed that banks were interested in a long term future and not the next quarterly profits.

    The sort of process mentioned above can’t be good for the long term prosperity of the bank in question. The bad press from this story alone must hurt, multiply it by many people, over a few years and customers will start disappearing. It’s probably an ok strategy if all the banks are doing it, but soon enough some banks are going to realise that there is a market in not being steaming-piles-of-shit with nothing but contempt for customers. They’ll be the ones that ignore quarterly forecasts for a while and play the long game. They’ll be the ultimate winners.

  52. I’ve had 3 banks try this bs on me over 20 years.

    I have found that asking to speak to a manager in person, and then calmly destroying your card in front of them gets the message across just fine.

    I mean, it’s not like there’s a relationship to salvage.

  53. From Canada. I saw a TV show (forget the name) that was about how horrible the banks in the USA actually are. It was largely on the free checking accounts, and how they were just taking advantage of the poor. They even compared it to those payday loan sharks/crooks, which actually came out looking better than the big banks like Bank of America. They at least are up front about the huge interest you pay on a loan, unlike the banks hidden fees. I remember watching, and thinking to myself that this can’t possibly be real, because it was so unfair, and so obviously (at least to me) criminal.

    Here is how the con works. You pay a 20$ fee for each overdraft charge. However rather than take out money from your account sequentially (as you would think, and would be logical), they would process the largest charges first. Thus if you had 900$ in your account, and you paid your rent of 500$ and your car payment of 400$, your account balance would then be zero. Now not knowing that fact, as charges are applied at the end of month, you then charge 10 1$ coffees to your account. That is 10  overdraft charges of a dollar, with a 20$ penalty fee.  So in essence you just took out a loan of 10$ and were charged 200$ for the privilege to do so. How can they do this? Usury laws kick in at something like 30%! Not to work it out, but it would be in the thousands of percent. They call it a “fee” or “penalty” not “interest”. Anyway seeing this was so clearly wrong, I was simply amazed that this sort of stuff goes on south of the border. Certainly makes me glad I live and bank (who are bad, but not that bad) in Canada.

  54. The young man was given account and fee details upon opening an acct. He signed documents stating he understood the terms and conditions. Maybe he should just take it as an learning experience.

  55. The same thing happened to me when I was about 8 years old.  This was with Bank of America.  We found out when I went to the bank to withdraw some of my accumulated  gift money to buy my little brother a toy.  When we found out that they had taken all of my money my dad and I left jaded and stayed away from that bank forever.

  56. This happened to me when I was living in the US. I left my CDN bank acct.  alone mostly as I didn’t need it. Well, it turns out that if you don’t use your account for 2 years, they just take 15$ for reasons of… well, no reason really. That actually put me into overdraft – I think I had left 12$ in there before I moved – for which they charged me 35$ more dollars.

    The best part was that I found all this out when they sent me a letter warning me that this would happen… two days before I got the letter. 

    As for a solution, I argued with them over the phone and then just left it. Another year later I was back in Canada and talking to a teller. She listened to my story, agreed that it was wrong and just wiped it out and topped up my account to the 12$ or whatever it was before – no interest but I like ot pick my battles. 

    I hate banks by Mojo Nixon:

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