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All Is Calm....
[Misc] Flowers
brookiki
I'm really tired of studying, but I feel like I'm making some headway. I'm sure I'm going to get slammed by finals, but still.. *shrugs* I feel like I'm getting more stuff and I have till Monday for the first, Tuesday for the second, Thursday for the third, and I've got to fit a take-home in there somewhere.

I called and canceled the credit card today. The customer service rep asked what happened and I told him. I explained it to him, emphasizing the fact that when I told the people I talked to yesterday that I'd been a customer for nearly 15 years and asked if they were willing to lose a customer over a fifteen dollar fee, all they cared about was getting the fifteen dollars. He said he was sorry to hear that and I told him I was, too, and that I was also going to move my savings and checking as soon as I found another bank and would take my CD out as soon as I could access it without paying a late fee. He asked if there was anything they could do to keep me as a customer, and I told him no. (In hindsight, I wonder what would have happened if I'd said, "Yes. I'll stay if both people I talked to yesterday offer personal apologies for their behavior." Probably nothing.)

Anyway, he canceled the account and asked if there was anything else he could do and I told him that wanted to revoke any authorization I had given them to contact me with offers or promotions. The only time I wanted them to call me was if it directly pertained to my accounts.

When finals are over, I plan to shop around for a new bank. I'll see what interest rates and perks they'll give me and check various online stuff, including customer complaints. My personal theory is that even if someone is never late on her credit card payments and is never overdrawn, stuff can still happen. If a bank is unreasonable when things happen (especially when it's an isolated incident), then any customer (even one with good credit) had better keep walking.

For the record, the bank was National City. After talking to a couple of people and reading some online complaints, my negative view was confirmed. My family was with that bank for a long time because we knew the president. No problems at all. Now the president has moved to another bank and it's been bought out. From what I've read and heard, National City likes to stick as many charges as possible. Also, from what I gather, if they have the option, they process transactions from highest to lowest, rather than the order they were received. If the charges were processed timewise, the person would have only been overdrawn on the last charge, meaning one overdraft fee. However, if you process from greatest to least, then the account is overdrawn and gets fees for all four transactions. I haven't been able to find a place to verify this on their website, but given that they charge a $30 late fee on a credit card ]and have tiered overdraft fees (say $30 for your first four, $35 for your next four, etc), I'm not that inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

(And, for the record, this is why you don't treat customers badly. Because a happy customer will generally overlook complaints of others and say "Well, it's always worked for me," but once you burn someone, they're willing to listen a little more closely to others' complaints.)

Also, I have an overall problem with the idea of overdrafts. An article I was reading said it more clearly than I can:

“Banks should have to get their customers’ affirmative consent before signing them up for their most expensive loans,” stated Jean Ann Fox, CFA’s director of financial services. “It is unfair for banks to make overdraft loans without consumer consent, a firm contract to cover overdrafts, notice that a transaction will trigger an overdraft fee, and cost information on borrowing by overdraft.”

“Overdrafts are a type of credit, and they are one of the most costly types imaginable,” stated Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Yet the banks that make these loans don’t have to provide Truth in Lending disclosures, which would inform consumers how expensive this form of credit really is.”


The groups were arguing for a way of letting customers opt out of overdrafts and I agree with it, especially for debit cards. If someone makes an extraordinarily large purchase on his credit card and maxes it out, sends a check in to pay the balance off, and the payment hasn't been processed when he next tries to use his card, the transaction is denied. No harm, no foul, and no insane fees. If that same person has a debit card and makes a transaction based on the idea that his paycheck was deposited, when there was actually a problem that kept it from being posted, then the bank accepts it and slaps him with an overdraft fee.

Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair to me. You can make the argument that people should take better care of their finances and never get into that position, but so what? It shouldn't have to be a clean hands thing, where the only people who can complain about bad behavior are those with spotless records. (And for the record, I think I've been overdrawn one time in my life, when I was still a teenager. So this is not someone complaining about something that affects her personally. It's a general sense of unfairness.)

Anyway, I guess the moral to this story is that I really don't like banks much right now.

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I really love Washington Mutual (althought I am scared of what will happen when Chase fully takes over). The clerks are always really happy and they have free checking and free ATM use, although their overdraft fee is still, like $20 and it sucks.

Not sure about their credit cards as I get my credit card through USAA and I have a *bitchin'* interest rate, so it's not likely to change.

Mom and dad just opened up an account with Key Bank too, for my dad to use in New York. I would also recommend credit unions. Not as many ATMs and not many branches, but they generally have really good customer service.

I've heard good things about credit unions, too. Given that I don't use ATMs at all and I'm never in the bank, that wouldn't affect me too much. I'm mainly worried about interest and customer service.

I don't really care about the bank credit cards. I only took this one because they kept calling and did the "You're crazy for not taking this because look at all the great stuff you get" thing.

But I think that scary thing about banks is the fact that they're being shuffled around so much. You go to all the trouble of finding a good bank, only to have the very one you most wanted to avoid take over. That would suck.

If you're never in the bank you might consider online banking as it offers better interest rates, usually. Some of the stock trading websites have online banking (E*Trade in particular) as do some investment firms like ING. I'm actually putting the majority of my savings in a money market account as the interest rates are much better (generally) and it's protected by the FDIC now. It's a little harder to get to quickly, but it's still pretty liquid. I'm trying to build up the 3-6 months of emergency money you're supposed to have in that account.

The best thing about my credit card is the low interest rate. Not that it ever comes into play for me since I almost always pay off the balance, but whenever someone is constantly pestering me about getting a credit card I can tell them my interest rate with my current one and it usually shuts them right up because they can't compete. :)

Sounds like you're really doing your homework. I need to do some longterm planning myself. My money is safe right now, but it's not working nearly as hard as it should be.

I keep hearing people say that this is the best possible time to buy stocks if you're in it for the long haul and I keep toying with the idea of putting a little money in some safe stocks, but I just can't decide.

Well, USAA, who I absolutely love, offers free financial services to their members. I usually call them up and go, "Quick! I've got some money saved up! Take it off my hands before I spend it!" and they tell me where to put it. :D They don't deal in individual stocks, but rather mutual funds, which automatically diversifies your portfolio for you. So through them I've got an IRA, which is entirely invested in a 'Balanced Strategy' fund which carries medium risk... the idea being that I can afford to take some risks now and as I get closer and closer to retirement I'll shift it into safer and safer funds so I'll have the money when I need it. I called them a few months ago and said, "I'm trying to save up the 3-6 months of emergency funds, but it seems silly to just have the money sitting somewhere and not earning anything, so where should I put it?" and they told me the best bet was either a high interest savings account or a money market fund, and they recommended the money market fund because it consistently out performs their high interest savings account but is still liquid. I should be able to access the money in about a banking day. Then whenever the stock market falls below 8,000 or so I put a little money in an S&P 500 index fund, because I believe in taking advantage when a sale presents itself. :)

I've shied away from stocks so far for the most part, but my mom's always said to invest in stuff you use and like. So I've got 10 shares of GE (which owns NBC), and I'm looking at getting a few shares of other TV and movie companies, Marvel Comics, Apple Computer, things like that. If we really are headed towards a depression I think companies like Wal Mart are going to continue to do well, as well as people who make cheap comfort food (Campbell's and Kraft), booze and movies. And if Obama really is going to spend some serious money in infrastructure, I might be looking at stocks in construction companies that make things like asphalt and bridges or who build wind turbines or solar panels. But I don't have the money to play around with that kind of stuff yet. I still have to max out my IRA contributions before the end of the year. :P

Shannon had that exact same problem with them, and hers was over a charge dispute that they refused to accept wasn't from her, even though she provided documentation stating just that. She ended up switching after that, I think she uses Central now.
Chase has some bad charges that they will slap you with, but they were always really good about working out disputes and dropping the charges (at least my branch was) if you explained the situation. Especially if you overdrafted by a dollar or so. They just kicked it off and went on. I have the UK Credit Union now because of work, which is okay, except they won't let me use my card in a lot of places because they restrict paying sellers that are internationally owned or a lot of online programs like Paypal because they do a lot of international transactions.

And it's no wonder they're having financial problems. There's a limit to how uncooperative you can be with customers before they throw up their hands and go somewhere else.

I'm okay with banks having fees for certain things. If they didn't, they'd have a lot more problems. The thing is, though, I also feel that if a customer is doing exactly what he or she is supposed to be doing and playing by the rules, that ought to at least get them in the door to discuss charges and disputes.

I guess there are extra fees for international transactions. I remember getting hit with a lot of them when I was using ATMs in France. That would be inconvenient, though.

Oh boy, National City is BUYING my bank. Good to know they suck!

PNC screwed me with overdraft fees, but at the end of the day it was my fault for making the error that I withdrew deposited money too quickly without checking.

True. I mean, you should have kept better track of it. At the same time, though, when the bank knows you're going to go over the limit and has the opportunity to either refuse funds or give you the funds with a nasty charge, that raises another issue. I really do think that a bank should at least offer customers to opt out of the program.

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