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Infuriating Banking Fees
The economy has tanked, there's no doubt about it. As the ranks of the unemployed swell, the number of foreclosures and unpaid credit card debt climbs. Without a job, there is no paycheck. Without a paycheck, there is no money to be deposited into a bank account. The few still working are hard pressed to stretch their paychecks to cover the escalating costs of the basic necessities. And the nation's banks are cashing in on your distress.
Considering the restrictions put on fees and interest rates under the Credit Card Act of 2009, banks are looking to make up for the losses by finding new ways to charge you for their “services.” Though some fees have been around for years, others in the following list of irritating fees are newly formulated for the sole purpose of taking more of your hard earned cash.
Remember when online banking was an added feature to entice new customers to do business with a bank? Now, it's a separate form of banking being pushed by some banking institutions as a convenience. But there's always a price to be paid for convenience.
Bank of America (yeah, the one that was sued in a class action suit regarding unlawful overdraft fees) leads the way to impersonal service. Customers enrolled in their e-banking account are charged $8.95 per month for the “favor” of having access to brick and mortar branches, as well as being able to speak to a flesh and blood teller should there be a transaction requiring assistance. This can all be avoided if you receive your statements online, have direct deposit, and only use ATM's to grab your cash.
Capital One doesn't allow face to face dealing at all for their online customers. Going into a branch will only get you a telephone connection to the online support team. PNC charges a fee between $2 and $3 for customer service requiring a live person, whether in person or on the phone. Only online transactions are free for online banking accounts.
If you're not comfortable with the idea of online banking due to the security risks, you can still choose the old fashioned way of banking. But again, you'll be charged for your choice. Getting a hard copy paper monthly statement may cost you up to $2 per month, as more and more banks are jumping on the bandwagon. The expenses become more steep if you need to get a copy of an old statement.
Bank of America charges $3.00 to process a request for copies of statements, deposit slips, and checks. HSBC (Hongkong Bank of Canada) charges $5.00 for photocopies of statements and checks. Capital One charges their credit card holders a $3.00 fee for statements. TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion) allows customers to access statements online, or pay $7.00 to get copies.
So what happens when you need to dispute transactions? BOA charges a research fee of $20 per hour, while Chase hits you for $25 per hour. Their statements are $6. The claim is that researching past statements and documents is time consuming for staff and costly to the institution. The trouble with this sort of claim lies in the irony of the situation. Most people needing to research bank transactions, do so because of a suspected bank error, yet they are charged to have the error researched.
This next one is a doozy. Being one of those rare old-timers who remember the good ole days, I recall when putting my money in the bank was supposed to be a benefit to both my chosen bank and myself. They got to make use of my money, while I had the assurance that my cash was safe and not likely to burn up in a house fire. Now, I'm treated as though maintaining the records of my account is a drain on the institution's bottom line. If I choose to wire money to a friend or relative, I expect to be charged a fee. These days if I'm banking with Chase or PNC, I'm charged if I'm the one receiving the money. We're actually being charged for having money deposited in our accounts through outside wire services!
Ever move to a new town and open a bank account, only to be promoted and transferred out of state? Well, if the new state doesn't have a branch of your bank, you're going to be charged for closing your account. US Bank and PNC charge $25 if you find a need to close the account before you've had it a full 180 days. Chase will hit you up for the same if it's under 90 days. The explanation is given that it costs about $20 to open the account including the expense of determining whether you are who you say and you are able to maintain the account. Oh...and it supports the cost of the system that allows you secure and “convenient” access.
Being ancient as I am, I remember grabbing the piggy bank and a handful of coin wrappers and going to town on all my saved change. I'd go into the bank, hand over the rolled coins and add that to my growing savings account. That all changed for most people when the coin counting machines were put into many banks' lobbies. We were encouraged to use the machines because they were accurate. They wouldn't allow “slugs” to be wrapped in with the dimes. They didn't miscount the quarters. It was time saving and such a huge convenience. And it certainly was! Everyone was a winner. The bank got wrapped coins and we got the balance in our accounts without spending hours counting and wrapping.
Sometimes the machines break down and need fixed, and then there's all those costly tellers who have to reach across the counter to hand you your $27 in cash, or actually do a deposit transaction. These activities are costing the banks money. The answer for our expensive habit of bringing our coins to their banks is to charge us a percentage of the total counted if we aren't willing to deposit the money into their bank. Non-customers at TD Bank are charged 6% to use the machines and Capital One is going with 5%. And here's another lame attempt at making excuses: “It's like renting any machine, otherwise customers who don't bring in money to be counted are subsidizing those who do.” I might buy that line if the percentage collected each month was calculated to reduce monthly account maintenance fees for customers. I'll bet my piggy bank that no one has ever paid less account fees because the cost of maintaining the coin counter was reduced.
Remember that move to another area? Well, even if your bank has a branch in your new hometown, you may get charged if your statement doesn't make it to your new address. US Bank is charging a $5.00 fee for undeliverable bank statements. Mail service must be pretty expensive in Oklahoma and Arkansas because Bank of Oklahoma and First Bank & Trust are going to slap you with a hefty $15 fee. Once again, the excuse is the cost of tracking you down so you, and not some identity thief, gets the statement.
Does anyone besides me remember when doing business had expenses attached? I ran restaurants for most of my adult life. I expected to have to pay the help, to pay the heat, electric, water, and any equipment repairs out of the sales receipts. It was considered a cost of doing business. I didn't charge the customer ordering a rare steak less than the guy who ordered the well-done steak because the rare one didn't use as much heat. Geez, I guess the rare steak customer was subsidizing the well-done customer. I suppose I should have tacked on a percentage for those who wished to dine in a heated dining room during winter. And I guess I missed my chance at making millions by not charging for bathroom privileges. After all, plumbing costs money to maintain and those who don't wash their hands shouldn't be subsidizing those who do.