Friday, September 19, 2008

Banking crap is the worst crap!

Let me start by saying I have never cared much for banks. Part of this hatred comes from years of living from paycheck to paycheck, "floating" (and bouncing) checks, driving to the bank with only enough gas to get there and counting on the bank to get money for gas back, and living without a bank account at all. I had fat years and I had lean years, and banks were no help in either case. I know that a lot of that was my own fault, but it also gives me a perspective not everyone has.

Those days are over now (I hope) and I have worked out the banking thing pretty well. I use my debit card for everything that I don't already do through on line banking and I hardly ever carry cash. Over the past few years my credit has improved and my stress has gone down. Happy days are here. Sort of.

Let's talk about Wells-Fargo, ok? I have a joint account there with Kathleen and my student loan is with them. Her personal checking and mortgage are there, as well. Not a ton of money, but not a little, either.

First off, their online banking is superb; much better and more comprehensive than Bank of America's (where my personal account is). Unfortunately, EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THEM IS CRAP. Here's a list;

  • When we opened the account, they wanted way too much info, and I had to really argue with the guy to tell him he didn't need to know if I was a college grad or not (for instance).
  • Also, when we opened the account, they tried to issue us a credit card that we didn't want as "overdraft protection".
  • They issued a new debit card to Kathleen for our joint account for no apparent reason. Concerned, I called them but they refused to tell me anything saying "I can't tell you if your name is not on the account". That's crap because MY NAME IS ON THE ACCOUNT! And the guy I talked to (ironically named Dave) was an ass. Rude and just a real jerk. He hung up one me once.
  • They offered to re-finance the house but got all pissy when we wouldn't call back because they were supposed to tell us the interest rate on the new loan. Then we got a "turn-down" letter when we had never even applied!
  • Just recently they held onto a paycheck for a week after it had cleared. It's a long story, but they shouldn't have.
  • It costs 12 dollars a month to bank there. Crap.
So they are crap. So we moved to Northcoast Credit Union.

I liked them; they were very careful with my personal information, going so far as to ask me to write my SSN down so I wouldn't have to say it out loud in the bank (and then she had me watch her shred it). Really,really good about that.

We got everything going there and I went on line to set up the online bill payer. Here's the first sign of trouble. It looks like it was made by a 4th grader. Wesley, a two year old, knows more about web design. Awful. But that's OK, 'cause I'm a computer genius and I can live with that. Besides, it's free. Which leads me to the second sign of trouble; it's only free for 6 months, then $5 a month after. No one told me that, but I let it slide. Because that's how I roll.

One of the things I do not like about their online banking is that you cannot "nickname" the accounts; you know, like "joint account" or "Dave's checking". Its just the numbers, which are very similar since they were set up at the same time. I don't realize it yet, but this is another "sign of trouble" or rather, "trouble waiting to happen because Dave can be a bit impatient and might get confused about which account is his and which is the joint account".

On to bill pay, which is a separate thing you have to set up through the website. So I do. And I pay one (rather large, annual payment) bill to be sure it's all good. I had a little trouble getting the merchant set up, but it worked ok. Until about a week later when I went to check to be sure it cleared.

I'm sure you can guess what happened here. It bounced.

Now here's something I know about banks, but hate anyway; a check never bounces once, it (almost) always bounces twice because companies are allowed to re-submit it and do so automatically. So any fee you have to pay is doubled right off the bat. I had not set up any Email alerts so I didn't know it happened and it went through twice. At $25 a pop. But wait, here's the REALLY BIG SIGN OF TROUBLE; not only did the bank charge me, but so did the Bill Payer people, who are another company! $22 each time! That's a total of $94 in fees for a bounced check! Say it with me: CRAP!

I called and explained and they rather reluctantly and I thought rudely agreed to remove the fees, but had no explanation for why it was OK to charge so much.

We may be changing banks again soon, I think.

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