At My Bank, NSF = Non-Sufficient Friendliness

by F.W.

I've had a checking account at a Compass Bank branch since November 2004. The branch's staff have always been rather cold and indifferent (except for a young puppy named Christopher). But I never had any real problems until this May.

Then I ran afoul of a classic bank trick: post debits before deposits on the same day, and ding the customer for multiple "Non-Sufficient Funds" fees (at $36 each!) on trifling debit card transactions. Four debits totalling less than $10 resulted in $144 worth of NSF fees.

I regularly pass a different Compass branch. I got in the habit of making my deposits there, and found the staff much more congenial. So I thought I might have better luck negotiating my way out of these NSF fees in there. I was right.

J.R., the branch manager, sat me down in his office and fetched me coffee. Then he did the dialing and holding to talk to my branch. The customer service manager there would only "forgive" one NSF fee as a "one-time courtesy." I pointed out that none of the debits would have bounced if the damned deposit had been credited first. J.R. went up the chain of command for me -- and I wasn't even his customer! We got another NSF fee "forgiven," but that was the best he could do. It was a lot more than "my" branch did.

So I opened a new account at J.R.'s branch before I left.

Last Friday, on my way to the pool hall, I took a four-figure check to my old branch, intending to deposit it in my new account at J.R.'s branch. The check was from a well-known publishing firm. I had deposited about 25 of this firm's checks in my old Compass account since I opened it, and the funds were always available the following business day. But not this time.

"I'm sorry, sir," said the drive-up teller, "I'm going to have to place an 11-day hold on this item."

That was a problem, since I'd mailed two hefty checks on my way to the drive-up window.

So I took my deposit back and went inside to speak with the branch manager, whose name and face had changed since I last saw him.

"Rodney" told me 11-day holds were standard on out-of-state checks. I told him to check my account history and he would find that he was wrong, at least in my case. His branch had credited a deposit from the same firm overnight, just four weeks ago.

Then Rodney said it was because my account (at J.R.'s branch) was new. I said no problem, let's deposit it in my old account at this branch and post it tomorrow, just like we've done for nearly two years.

Rodney said whoever had been doing that -- "and I'm gonna find out who it is" -- shouldn't have, and he would have to treat me the same as anyone else from now.

"So you intend to treat a well-established customer the same as any stranger who walks in off the street today?" I asked him.

"Now I didn't say that. Don't go twisting my words," he replied.

I really wanted to twist something else of his, but I moved on.

I asked Rodney to call J.R., my new branch manager, and see if he would accommodate me. So Rodney called J.R.'s office and cell phone, but got only voicemail. I told Rodney I had to go but I'd call him in an hour. I left my check and deposit slip on his desk.

Ninety minutes and three phone calls later, I got Rodney on the phone.

"J.R. wouldn't do it, either," he said.

So I returned to Rodney's branch and picked up my deposit.

Monday morning, I drove down to J.R.'s branch and explained the whole thing to him.

"So, you've deposited checks from this firm before?" he asked.

"About 12 checks worth over $20,000 in the past year, and there's never been a problem with any of them," I replied.

J.R. clicks his mouse and keyboard for a few seconds, and pulls up an image of the last such check I'd deposited, four weeks ago.

"Well, since this is the same outfit and that check cleared, there's no problem with posting this one to your account overnight," he said. "Rodney didn't tell me about that part."

"Thank you, J.R.," I beamed.

J.R. had even filled out the deposit slip and left me sitting comfily in his office while he made the deposit. When he returned with my receipt, I just had to ask him: "How come you're such a nice, helpful guy and Rodney's such a dick?"

J.R. laughed -- a little uncomfortably -- and said he didn't know.

"Now there's one more favor you can do for me," I said, "if you don't mind...."

"What's that?"

"Can you close my account at Rodney's branch from here?"

"Oh, sure!" It was done in five seconds.

"I really appreciate you, J.R."

I really despise you, Rodney.


The author of this entry prefers to remain anonymous.

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Mostly, I am happy with my banks. I started out with "Slovenska Sporitelna", as that was what my parents used, when I was 15 I think. As I moved to Prague, in neighbouring country, for university, I found it logical to have my account in "Ceska Sporitelna", as they are both Erste Group members, plus the bank has a branch in the actual building of my school, another in the building just next to school, and one 5 minutes by bus from my dorms. And ATMs at every single metro station. I like their service, too. Could be that staff in school is extra courteous to students as we can be big money later, most students will probably want a mortgage or so within some two, three years of graduation...

One of the few not good experiences I had with banks, not downright bad though, was a very incompetent teller at Tatra banka. The girl kept trying to convince me, that if I had (say) 5% p.a. interest on a savings account, I would end up with 1100EUR after two years, then 1200EUR after four and so on. When I objected to that, she just told me that I could obviously not count and that it was the way it is calculated. Riiight. Needless to say, I am saving my money elsewhere.

I worked for a law firm. In January 2010 -- the third anniversary of my employment there -- an M&I employee began telephoning the law office concerning a debt owed by one of our employees. The M&I employee disclosed to me that he was calling concerning a loan to our employee's business. I explained to the M&I employee that I was not employed by our employee's business, and that I should not have been made privy to this loan information. Nonetheless, I told the M&I employee that I would make sure that our employee received the message.

Apparently, our employee did not respond to M&I.

Albert Einstein once defined "insanity" as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Nonetheless, the M&I employee continued to call every week at least once a week to complain that he was getting no response from our employee. Due to the nature of our employee's position and his other business, he was always out of the office when the M&I employee called.

On March 9, 2010, the M&I employee called yet again, this time disclosing that our employee had defaulted on his loan. I finally decided that I had had enough. I sent an online form via M&I corporation's website complaining that its employee was calling repeatedly and disclosing confidential financial information. However, I never received a response.

I admit that I called the M&I employee a few childish names in my complaint, but I said nothing profane, and nothing threatening.

Nevertheless, on March 17, 2010 -- more than a week after my complaint -- M&I's security department contacted my employer and reported my complaint as a "security threat."

As a result of M&I's outstanding customer service, my employer overreacted, and I lost my job that day.

I have my car loan with Wells Fargo Dealer Services (who just took over the account from another company - Wachovia - about three or four months ago). Last month, I paid my last payment on the loan, paying the amount that Wells Fargo said was the account balance. This month, I got a bill for $3.62. I called to ask why I was being billed, and was told it was because my account interest accrued daily. Since I had paid the amount due on May 28, they were going to continue to charge me interest for every day from the time they printed their bill they sent to me, till they got my payment, which was June 8. So I told the woman I was speaking to that this means that I would NEVER be able to pay off the loan, since interest would continue to accrue no matter what they told me I should pay. She said, "Oh, no, you should have told us that you were paying off the loan, and we would have closed everything out." So, apparently, though there is nothing, ANYWHERE, that says that the customer has to notify THEM that the account was fully paid off, and even though they were receiving the total amount they had told me was due, their system apparently can't tell that the account is being paid off.

Fortunately, the customer service rep I spoke with agreed to cancel the $3.62 (which was actually more than that, of course, since further interest had accrued since they had printed that last bill), and would be sending me my registration documents.

We'll see if that actually happens, or will I get another bill next month, plus a delinquent notice for not paying the $3.62.

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