My bank (which will remain nameless) charges me a $35 fee when I don't have enough funds to cover a transaction. Normally I'd say -- ok, that's a bit steep, but it's my fault for sending out a check that I can't cover with funds in my account. But this summer things got a bit wonky.
Aug 29, 2010
For work I need to put all of my expenses on my card and then get them reimbursed. I ended up spending a lot more than I expected and although my American Express payment wasn't due, I wanted to make sure it was paid of asap. For some reason I thought I had enough money in my account to cover the $3500 payment. Well, I didn't. I found this out by seeing a $35 charge on my account activity page. Crap, I thought to myself, I can't believe I just wasted $35. So I was going to let it slide.
Then, two days later, I saw another $35 fee. I called up my bank to find out what's up. Apparently American Express is allowed to automatically try to get the payment through a bunch of times, and each time they try it hits my account with a $35 fee. I called up American Express and they told me that once I approved the payment, it's all done automatically, and I had to wait for it to be denied.
So I called up my bank account and after a few minutes of begging got them to remove one of the $35 fees. I hoped that American Express would be done with the requests for payment, but a few days later another one showed up on my account. I called my bank again and the conversation went something like this:
"Can you waive the $35 fee because I am already paying a $35 fee for that transaction. I now have the money in there to pay for the entire American Express payment and then some. I'm a good customer (yada yada) so can you help me out this one time?"
"No, sorry, it won't let me do that, we already removed one fee."
"But it's for the same transaction. It didn't even pay it, it was returned to American Express. I will probably have a fee from them as well."
"I'm sorry it's all automated there's nothing I can do... ... ... unless ... unless you have some sort of hardship, are unemployed or something...?"
(A pause. I wonder how much I should stretch the truth)
"Well, my job is ending soon" I started, adding "my job is ending next week."
"You should call us back next week," she starts.
"What? This is ridiculous." I brought out my inner actress here. "My job is ending... next week, and you can't put that I'm unemployed now? I will be unemployed next week. On..."
"Today is your last day?" she adds, as if trying to help me through my lie.
"Yes, I don't have work on Monday," I said, "today is my last day."
"Let me see if that will work," she said. A few seconds later I had my $35 refund.
So... does this make me a bad person? Truth is I AM losing my job next month unless my contract gets renewed. Not on Monday, but fairly soon after. Really, though, I figure I'm paying the one $35 fee for my stupidity and the bank does not deserve a cent more.
Since fairness has nothing to do with bank fees, I also take a little consolation in knowing I'm heavily investing in bank stocks. If they're going to get bailed out by the government and charge ridiculous fees, I'm going to get in on that action.