Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekly Whine: Bank of America

Back when I was a naive little freshman college student, my parents helped me start up my own bank account in the town where I was going to school. There was a Bank of America right on campus on they were offering some good no-fee deals to clients under age 19, so I opened up an account there.

It was fine while I was in college, but at some point around when I graduated, they made up some rule that if you didn't have over $2,000 in checking, you had to pay like $20 per month. So began a frustrating ritual of trying to keep over $2,000 in my checking account because I was too lazy to just close the account.

I was just a poor med student then and it was hard to look at a bank account with $2,000 and desperately need money, yet not be able to touch it.

One day, I had $2,021 in the account. I needed money, so I withdrew $20, thinking I would still be safe. Except unbeknownst to me, the ATM fee was $2.50. So I was a dollar and fifty cents below the cutoff. I didn't realize this error or replenish the account for about three months, and I was furious that I had just lost $60 over nothing.

I angrily went to the nearest Bank of America branch and angrily told them I was shutting down the account. They tried to dissuade me with temptations of fee-less accounts, but I didn't believe them. I closed the account.

Six years later......

I got a letter from a collection agency saying I owed like $70 to Bank of America. They said that the bank was going through their old files and collecting accumulated fees on dormant accounts. Except I didn't have a dormant account. I closed my account six years earlier, which is why I had no money in their bank and had not received one piece of mail from Bank of America in that time until this letter from the collection agency.

It's a good thing they had pissed me off so much that I vividly remembered closing the account.

I had to call Bank of America. It took them a while to find my old account, because I couldn't remember my address in med school. And also because it had been closed six years ago. Which they quickly confirmed.

They called off the collection agency goons and I followed up to confirm my credit wasn't being ruined by a nonexistent bank account.

The whole thing made me furious, much more so than the first time. Were they just sending collection agencies after everyone who'd ever had an account with them, hoping that it was a small enough amount of money that people would get spooked and just pay it? Considering how hard it was for them to find my account and how easily they confirmed it was closed once they did, I find it hard to believe they legitimately thought I owed them money.

Anyway, good job, Bank of America. I will never open an account with you ever again. And I will tell everyone I know how much you suck.


  1. ARGH!!!!!

    (That was the sound of me ripping my hair out.)

  2. Who needs a Bail Out when you can just send collection letters? Can you imagine how many people just paid this? Uh, now I'm angry.

  3. Bank of America is evil. When I was a student in the 19(cough)... Anyway, when I was a student I worked for them part time in the Investors Accounting Department. Computers in business were still new at that time. My job was to use a ten-key adding machine to check the computer printouts, find fractions of pennies and credit them to the bank.

    I am very proud to say that I quit that job flamboyantly as my first act of personal political action theater.

  4. Knot: Didn't they do that in Superman III?

  5. When Bank of America rolled out debit cards with the cardholder's photo on them, we were strongly encouraged to get them. A few weeks later our new cards arrived and, despite having clearly-gendered first names, my husband's photo was on my card and my photo on his. We tried several times to fix it to no avail, then closed that account when my husband left the service.

    A few years later I opened a new BoA account in my name alone, only to get a new card with his photo on it. That time I was able to get a replacement card without a photo, but after they started charging me for the privilege of having an account I was done with them.

  6. Superman III? Never even saw the first two.

    It was like something out of A Christmas Carol - room full of desks all facing the same way, supervisor sitting at the back. Silence except for the clicking of the 10-keys.

    I wrote a story about it called "My Career in Banking". Do you think I could sue Superman III for plagiarism and get lots and lots of money?

  7. Ugh, I hate them!! I had to turn off overdraft protection because of all the ridiculous fees I'd get... and it's funny how they thought that adding another $35 fee for having a negative balance was going to make me pay up...

  8. When I moved to Canada they wouldn't accept checks from a Canadian bank. So I got a bank draft in American dollars for the principle and have let them come after me for the late fees. (They sent back all my payments, and then charged late fees.) So last I heard I owe them $300 in accumulated fees, but I have no assets in the USA any more. BITE ME, BoA!

  9. I agree. BoA is EVIL. They have a huge office sky scraper in the city where we live. We pass it on the way to our (local) bank. My four-year-old always points it out and says, "Look! There's the bank that steals your money!" He's a smart one, my boy. Obviously, we've had a run-in with their nefarious fee-collecting nonsense...

  10. Wait until a bank sues you for $10+k you don't owe. That was fun (but not recommended).

    I won, eventually.

    It seems like all these big banks took the bailout funds and used them to abuse consumers.


  11. Bank of America rejected me when I applied to them for med school loans. WTF!!!! How many med students go into default on loans? How high is the drop out rate that they presumed that me with my responsible and excellent credit wasn't worthy of a student loan for med school??? I will never do business with a bank that doesn't want to invest in the future. Now all loans are through the government but bank of america burned that bridge, thats for sure!