BANK FEES… (The Clandestine Pick-pocket)


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Monday, April 28th, 2008

Have you ever added up your bank fees? Wow! When I added up the bank fees on my fairly new business account, they totaled about $187 for the year. Each month the fees were a little different, some months were more, some less. I was upset with my bank and disappointed in myself that I hadn’t realized exactly what I was being charged, and it didn’t feel as if I was getting much for my $187.

I decided to call my bank. “Sandra” in customer service told me that I have a “custom account” and the average monthly service fee is $16. In order to avoid that service fee, I would have to “maintain an average balance of $40,000 otherwise there is a 20 cent charge per debit, 30 cent charge per credit and 18 cent charge per deposited item.”

I have to say that I almost fell off my chair. I explained to Sandra that I was never told about the $40,000 minimum balance, and that most people would invest that kind of money in a 401k or an interest bearing account, not in a checking account.

I could feel my blood boiling as I explained that I didn’t open the account with a large amount of cash. I told her that I felt as if I was being ripped off too and I felt I should be taking my business elsewhere. She said she could look around to see if there is a better checking account to suit my needs.

After waiting on hold for 4-5 minutes, which felt much longer, Sandra came back and told me about a basic business account with lower but still significant fees.

I wanted to know why this wasn’t offered to me when I opened the account. Sandra didn’t know, of course. I wasn’t feeling very good about keeping my money with this bank. I explained to Sandra that it isn’t right to say “I am sorry for the inconvenience when you have already charged me these high-rates.”

I wasn’t going to accept a brush-off, so Sandra put me on hold for another 2 or 3 minutes. This time, she put in a request to reverse the fees. It was sent to approval for an immediate answer, and I would know something within two hours… If I didn’t see it by the next day, then the request was declined. My perseverance resulted in a $61.12 credit… basically the difference between my high cost account and the cheaper one…

Whether you have a business or a consumer account, it pays to watch the fees and to ask for a better deal –at your own bank or somewhere else. I am still unhappy with the charges, so stay tuned as I check for other deals…and keep your eyes out for other ways your bank is charging you for your business.

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