Readers who consider me to be on the wrong side of this issue ("You're an a#&hole!") will no doubt be up in arms against The System when they get a load of a recent post at the credit- and bankruptcy-related blog, Credit Slips:
Credit Slips: Ripped Off by the Banking Industry
Here's a no-doc, no-income-verification rundown of the Credit Slips article:
Thanks to her participation in the Consumer Bankruptcy Project of 2007, a woman named Erica (not really) was nominated for an additional $100 payout due to her particularly inspirational story.
We're told that Erica is 46 years old, a previous BK filer, and afflicted with multiple sclerosis; to her credit, she has already outlived her doctor's initial prognosis by five years. Most of us can only imagine the physical and financial struggles Erica must contend with on a daily basis.
So what happened when Erica got the CBP award check?
Well, that's fun. But there's more.
Here We Go...
Once more, Credit Slips author Debb Thorne tells us, greedy banks have seriously overstepped their bounds by charging Erica three separate $33 overdraft fees. Know what I think?
I think: Given what I've read about this, I have great sympathy for Erica's physical and financial situation. However, the overdraft fees — all of them — were valid. (Caveat: This is unless the bank has somehow violated Reg CC. This was noted as a possibility by Adam Levitin, who commented on the post at Credit Slips. But we don't have enough info to know whether this is the case or not.)
"HOW CAN YOU SAY THE CHARGES ARE VALID?" readers will scream. "HAVE YOU NO HEART?"
Hold on. If I were the bank manager, I'd look into the matter. At the very least, I'd educate Erica and her husband on bank policies. And then I'd refund the overdraft fees.
There is simply no argument about this: Erica needs that $99 far, far more than the bank does. The bank can earn back that $99 quickly from someone or somewhere else. The same cannot be said for Erica and her husband.
Again, this is simply what I would do, if it were up to me. But it isn't.
Erica is likely out that money.
"But they never held her checks before, remember?" people will point out. "How is it right for them to start now?"
Well, I've never read word-for-word the deposit policies of any financial institution I've ever dealt with. Even so, I'm well aware of the likelihood that just because you desposit a check — any check — it doesn't mean you have immediate access to that money. It's standard bank operating procedure, folks.
From my end, I don't try to spend money that I just deposited that same day. Ever. It's called being conservative, and erring on the side of caution.
Admittedly, it's also a luxury that Erica probably cannot afford.
Doesn't matter, though. The bank makes the rules.
Some Questions I Wish to Answer
In the article, Ms. Thorne asks a few rhetorical questions regarding bank fees and such. I'd like to take this opportunity to answer them — from my non-expert viewpoint, of course.
Don't know; don't care. All I know is that it is. And if you don't want to shell out thirty-dollar overdraft charges, you'd better grasp the concept, too. And pronto.
I do. In fact, given the rate at which people continue to not give a crap about how they manage their money, I'd go so far as to say that overdraft fees should go higher.
Banks aren't charities. They exist to make money. Account-holders take heed: If you give most banks the slightest chance, they will bend you over and apply their own special brand of Stimulus Package. The sooner you learn how to avoid this, the better off you'll be.
Because the banks run the show. Their game; their rules. Suck it up, buttercup, and stop whining.
Oh, please. You know the answer as well as I do. Bankers and politicians get along very, very well. Cash, meet pocket.
Whatever. When you screw up with your money, when you can't follow your financial institution's policies, then you should pay.
Screw up repeatedly? Pay repeatedly.
The same rule should apply to bankers, of course, but it won't. (See the previous question.)
So go ahead, readers: Tell me how you feel.