Expressing my view!

Sharing with whoever would read my thoughts

Bank stoops low: sneaky stealing

Okay, let me explain, because while some may agree with the headline above, others may see it as inflammatory. So, for those who disagree, I leave you to arrive at your own conclusion.

On Friday, Mar 6, I received a check drawn on an out of state bank account for $300. With only $1.35 in my Chase Manhattan Bank account and knowing that my Time Warner Cable would be suspended for non-payment, I was eager for the check to clear. After depositing it, I left the teller’s window and looked at the deposit receipt, which did not indicate when the entire amount would be available. I was later informed that, even though tellers are supposed to notify customers and have it printed on the receipt when their funds would be completely available, if the deposit is $300 or more, the customers are also, according to Chase, expected to ask when the funds would be available.

The next day, in keeping with a banking regulation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives back in 2005, $100 was available. From conversations I’ve had with “back office” Chase employees, including those who have worked at the institution for many years, when a customer deposits a check, usually, the entire amount, because of our electronic age, is available to the bank but held by them and turned over – that is, sold, loaned and “interest-ed,” earned interest for the bank. Banks claim holds and other dubious circumstances to delay making the funds available to customer who are told that their funds would not be available, especially for an out of state check, for four to five business days. For an instate check, funds could be available in two to three business days. Business days do not include Saturday, Sunday or holidays; these are working days, Monday to Friday.

Short on food, I went out the next day $100 empowered and spent $48. Then just as I expected, Time Warner suspended my service. That night, I called in a check payment for $106 to the cable company and my service was restored. Having done this type of payment before, I had an idea or a rough guess of how long the Time Warner check payment would take to clear and I figured that by that time, the out of state check, the $200 balance would also clear and keep me solvent. That didn’t happen and is still in dispute as to when – it came down to a time determination- did the balance clear and the cable check hit my account. Nonetheless, I noticed that Chase hit me with a $25 insufficient funds fee, also called an NSF fee. Still thinking I had funds in my bank account, I treated myself to a $6 McDonald’s breakfast.

That is when it all went down hill. My account was overdrawn and I was in the red for 23 cents. Hurrying to the Chase branch at the corner of Broadway and 165th Street, I spoke with the branch manager, asking her about the $25 fee. Not wanting to have a negative balance, I scrounged up $3 for a deposit, and as I was standing in the line waiting to be restored to good standing, I asked the manager about being charged another $25 because my account was over by .23 cents. She assured me that when the charge hit, she would remove it, because she had the authority to remove NSF fee charges on negative balances less than $3. But then, accepting that I miscalculated, an automatic payment of $19.99 to Verizon also hit my account, which forced my account into a further negative balance of $17. The next day, I deposited $504 and saw my balance reduced to $486, and the next day I deposited another check for $880. This time, when I made the two latter deposits I enquired when they would be available and was told the next day. Confident in my new found wealth, I went shopping for necessities. But on Thursday, when I looked at my statement online, I noticed that there was a $64 NSF fee charged to my account. I hastened once again to the bank and enquired from the manager. She explained that the bank’s policy was that more than an initial NSF charge, $25, was charged at $32, and the $64 charge consisted of $32 for the .23cents and for the negative $17. I proceeded to remind her of the discussion and the assurance she made the previous Friday. After much wrangling and derogatory comments and saying she would have to take the loss at her branch because she made the promise to refund the NSF fee, she reluctantly reversed the charge.

But, what struck me was that without knowing, Chase had not only charged me $32 for a negative .23cents, but that the charge had been automatically increased from $25. The manager, referring me to a thick booklet containing Chase’s policies and procedures in 8-point print, stated that any amounts that go into a negative balance, regardless of how much, even if one cent is charged $25 or $32. When I pointed out that people designed the system which automatically charged customer, she found it difficult to accept that concept, which enabled Chase, under the guise of legality, to gouge its customers. Now, I wonder how many customers, who do not carefully monitor their bank balances or statements, does Chase fleece in such a flagrant manner. There are those who say that what Chase is doing is the fundamental of capitalism, that it is, a bank is in the business of making money. But, isn’t that same philosophy that has caused the financial sector to be in so low, corporate greed?

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March 20, 2009 - Posted by | Blogroll, community, Economy, Washington Heights Community | , , ,

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