Thursday, November 01, 2007

Update 11/02/07:
Since I was all clearly on the warpath there, I thought this update deserved to be right in with this same post.

Today, literally as I was typing in a complaint to the better business bureau, I got a call from Sean (I think his name was) down at Key bank, who read my letter today and went ahead and reversed all my overdraft fees-- including $99 dollars worth that went through today.

I maintain that the business practices of Key, in general, are bad, and that you probably belong at a Credit Union, but this is totally redeeming for the branch in Brunswick, Maine.

Local customer service beats out corporate evil. Good headline.


Time for the battered consumer to fight back. I'm entirely too angry, right now, to back down. Not gonna happen.

This is the beginning of my war against Key Bank.

Eventually, I'm sure it will be a war against every large, impersonal bank that charges exorbinant fees for the purpose of enriching shareholders. The problem here is that it's illegal for a corporation to not act in the best interest of their shareholders, even when it negatively effects their customers or their community (The exception to that being stakeholder corporations, who accept and act upon the responsibility they have to everyone who has a stake in their business, including employees, customers, the community and the environment. L.L. Bean is a good example of this.)

My job here, our job here, as consumers, is to make sure that it benefits the shareholders for the company to do what benefits us. This generally means that we must throw a screaming, crying fit everytime we get screwed-- enough of one to ultimately effect the stockholder's pocket. Not an easy thing to do in any age, but the power of the internet, of angry, vocal bloggers and forum users makes it easier. So. Let's get started.

First of all, I should point out I had very, very similar problems with T.D. Banknorth, going back to when it was just Banknorth, even. The point ultimately here is this: My money belongs in a credit union. If you are Joe Everyman, your money belongs in a credit union. If you are twentysomething, thirtysomething, struggling to make it, barely making ends meet, you need a credit union. If every time you start to get ahead something happens, if you've ever seen those overdraft fees pile up in and endless cycle that's impossible to catch up with, you need a credit union. Keep in mind that credit unions are member-owned, not stockholder owned. This is George Bailey versus Potter, on the grand scale. Their responsibility is ultimately to those community members who put their money in them. Let that be you.

I know I will, as soon as I get this debaucle cleaned up.

So, why am I starting with Key? Key's the one who is currently screwing me. And while it's policy on a corporate level that is robbing me blind, it's customer service on a branch level that has the power to give me that money back. So my trouble today is very specifically with the Key Bank on Maine Street in Brunswick Maine.

The quick overview of my trouble is this: They claim that four transactions processed on October 26th brought be below Zero-- that is, four transactions each resulted in me having a negative balance.

Aside from the fact that Zack and I checked our balance very carefully before and during our recent trip to Montréal and there was never any indication whatsoever that we might go negative until well after it happened, you can see here that those charges that supposedly brought us negative were processed the same day that both of our Direct Deposits would have more than redeemed them. Anyone with direct deposit will tell you that those deposits go through first thing, 12am or 12:01am, to be specific, and I verified this with our employers. There's no way those other transactions should have gone through first-- even if they, for some reason did, it seems like a heinous misuse of the overdraft fee policy. Overdraft fees are supposed to protect all involve from irresponsible spending. They are not supposed to punish bank users for depending on their bank's accounting or not being able to predict when transactions are going to clear-- it's clear that the money is there to cover the transactions. Processing them in a way that brought the account negative only served to enrich the bank. A total of 99 dollars of overdraft fees that was processed on the 29th.

So, I wrote the bank a letter which I'll have to link to here later-- I'm running out of time before work. In this letter, I requested that they remove the fees, making the same points I did above. Their apparent reaction to this letter was to go back, check the accounting, and realize that they had only processed three overdraft fees instead of four.

As an aside, we checked our balance last night at 11pm to see if the payment for our hotel had gone through yet. We saw that it, and several other transactions, had gone through all at once and it brought our account's projected balance down to 18 cents. The plan was for me to go and deposit some money first thing this morning-- whatever we had around the house, about fifty bucks are so, enough to keep it from going negative until Zack's paid again, tomorrow.

Low and behold, when I got up this morning, they had processed the fourth overdraft charge, which brought the account negative. Then the processed an overdraft charge for the overdraft charge. Then they processed a third overdraft charge for that overdraft charge. Ninety-nine more dollars enriching the bank for no reason, and now I don't have enough on me to bring the balance up above zero.

So. The next step, evidentally, is that I will be charged three more overdraft fees for transactions that were below zero because of those three overdraft fees-- transactions that would not have been, were it not for those overdraft fees, and then more for the overdraft fees themselves, until Zack gets paid tomorrow. Ultimately, that will just barely bring us above Zero, even though it's five hundred dollars.

Yeah, I'm not letting this happen.

So, let's cause some dissent here. If Key ignored my letter, and actually used it as fodder to charge me another fee, than I obviously can't use my loyalty as a bargaining chip. The plan right now is to get as many people as possible-- especially people in the Brunswick area-- to read this, and it's eventual predecessors.

I'm going to link as many angry, anti-key comments as I possibly can at this point, and they aren't hard to find. If I have time later, I'll classify these a little better. For the time being, enjoy.
More later, along with helpful quotes.
I think we all know that I could link all day, but I have other, more important phases of this plan to implement. And I have to take a shower, and go to work, to earn more money for key to steal. We will meet again, angry consumers. I promise you that.
On with it.


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