Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Citizens Bank What Balls You Have

Of course it's not just Citizens, as many banks are similarly guilty of unbridled greed. Today was just another one of those days that brought it home to me.

I'll start by admitting that I have been lousy at managing money throughout my life. Over the past few years however I've been much better. During those previous years I must have contributed thousands of dollars in overdraft fees to the bottom line of various banks. Obviously that was entirely my fault, but the amount of the fees were and are increasingly exorbitant. Lately they're obscene.

This morning I went to Wal Mart for some groceries and more plastic storage tubs needed to pack items in before my second pest treatment (see my Endicott Dispatch blog to read about that nightmare). I spent about $97.

Meanwhile in my Citizens account(s) I was waiting for a reply to a message I sent them about what I thought was a mistake. My service fee for overdraft protection has been $3 monthly and last month I was charged $30, so I alerted them to that, expecting that $27 would be credited to my account.

I returned from shopping and logged in to my online banking account to see that my checking balance was $0.00 and my savings account was ($2.91). That means I was overdrawn by $2.91.

Then I saw that I had a message waiting for me. It stated that the fee for overdraft protection had changed from $3.00 monthly to $30.00 annually and that I'd been notified about this a couple of months ago.... Oh crap! Now I remember, the fee was actually going down and I recall being happy (and surprised) about that, but now there's no $27 credit to my account. Again, my fault, but I'm now overdrawn and my next social security deposit isn't for 10 days!

I hit "Reply" on the message from the bank and proceeded to explain my situation and asked for guidance. When I clicked "Send" a page popped up telling me that 'my session had timed out'.. No reminder warning me that this was about to happen, and besides, I was typing the whole time, why would a page 'time out' when I was actively entering text into a reply field?

Now I'm getting somewhat irritated and I fire off a message to technical support about the issue. Then I call the bank and speak with a customer rep. After explaining the situation and receiving an apology for the online problem the woman looked at my accounts and told me that I needed to deposit some money to cover the overdraft or I'd be charged $39 #^@*!%@ dollars!

Now don't forget that I have no income for 10 days when my next social security deposit arrives.. That $39 overdraft fee gets repeated until then!

All I could think of at that point was bankers partying it up at some posh resort thinking "Thank you suckers!" or some Citizens CEO getting a huge bonus and internally smirking while thinking about how their industry just got bailed out by the government (tax payers).

I'm not sure if I even want to watch the upcoming hearings where they'll be questioned about these overdraft fees. The greed and arrogance of these people seems to have no bounds. Any contrition voiced by them can't be taken seriously due to their continued arrogant behavior since the last time they were called to testify.

The whole situation is a farce, as is the 'debate' on health care reform. The majority of the population gets screwed by the corporations and most of our elected representatives support them while their re-election coffers are fattened in the process.

I have no problem with paying a penalty when I screw up. I do however have a problem when that penalty is milked over and over as a one teat on a cash cow.