I’m pissed at Bank of America right now. And not because of the $5 fee they wanted to charge consumers for using their debit cards earlier this year. Not because I’m joining the 99% movement, or because I want to occupy anything. Not because the government had to bail them out again and again. And not because their stock price is tanking.
Because they made me feel like an idiot for doing business with them. Again.
Here’s the story:
In May of this year, I took my seven and five year old children to the local Bank of America branch on a Saturday morning, with about $115 each that they’d been saving. My goal was to open a simple savings account, so that they could start learning what it was like to have a bank account, and the value of saving money with someone you could look in the face and talk to.
We opened two savings accounts, with me listed as the custodian and deposited the money. They both wrote down their deposit in the free deposit book that BoA gave us.
I’m pretty sure I asked lots of questions about fees and interest rates, because I distinctly remember hearing that the interest rate was ridiculously low (like 0.1% interest) and I don’t remember hearing anything about fees. I’ve been screwed by BoA before on fees on other accounts I have open with them (they charged me a $25 service fee on an checking account with $50 in it, because I wasn’t using the account (WTF?)), so I know I asked about them, and I don’t remember hearing anything from the bank officer about fees, that said, I could be wrong. It was six months ago, and I made the mistake of trusting them again…
About a month later, the boys and I took another $100 or so in change to the bank, and had them sort and count it, and then we deposited the money evenly into both of their accounts.
Because it’s a savings account, we get a statement once a quarter.
This morning, we got the second quarterly statement from BoA, and I opened it, just because I wanted to see what their balance was.
I was surprised to see three $5 charges for “monthly service fees” on the statement.
I grabbed the paperwork we got from the bank when we opened the accounts, and the boys deposit books and drove to the bank to talk to the bank officer that I opened the accounts with.
She doesn’t work there anymore. Figures.
So I sit down with another banker. As calmly as I could, I asked her to “refund the money that they’ve taken from my kids, close the accounts, and give me the cash, so I can go do business with a bank that my kids can learn to trust with their money.” I should have said “stolen from my kids” btw, because that’s what it feels like.
I was upset. I was upset because I felt like an idiot. Here I was trying to teach my children the value of saving money, and working with a bank that they could go into and talk to a banker at, and what lesson did I learn that I can teach them?
I guess this statement sums it up: “Never use Bank of America for anything!”
Seriously. What other conclusion can I draw from the last six months?
We took our money into the bank. We sat with a banker for an hour while she explained the accounts to the boys and I. We got our deposit books, and while disappointed with the super crazy low interest rate, we figured that having the experience of walking into a bank every few months, depositing cash, getting a receipt and seeing our balance grow would be a super powerful lesson for them about the value of saving your money. Isn’t that what we should be teaching our kids, considering the current state of the economy?
Instead, we got a lesson that goes something like “Don’t trust your bank” or “You’ll make more money keeping your money in your ceramic piggy bank at home, than you will be entrusting it to a real bank.”
Ugh. So pissed at myself for trusting Bank of America.
Anyways, after the banker looked into the two accounts, she informed me that they’d charges us the $5 fee six times. Once each month since we opened the account.
I asked her as politely as I could to refund the entire $30 for each boy, close the account and hand me the cash. She told me that she wasn’t authorized to go back more than 3 months. I asked to see her boss.
He came over and told me he didn’t have the power to go back more than 3 months either. I asked if his boss was at the bank today. It was a Saturday, so his boss wasn’t there, but they both told me they could file a ticket and that the big boss would look into it on Monday.
“Fine,” I said, “close the accounts and I’ll deal with it on Monday.”
Moral of the story there: “Bank of America lets a stupid computer make a bad decision to charge us $5/month for six months, but won’t authorize a human the power to make a right decision and refund us $30.”
So, I closed the accounts, took the cash, and will be going into a credit union on Monday to open two kids’ savings accounts, or I might call USAA to open two kids’ savings accounts with them.
I’ve had an account at Greater Texas Federal Credit Union for almost 20 years now. It was my college bank, and when we got out of college, we left about $50 in the account. They’ve never charged me a fee for having that account open, and even pay us interest on it, and I trust them to not make me feel stupid for doing business with them.
Ditto Navy Federal Credit Union… my wife has used them for savings accounts and car loans for twenty years. Love them too.
I’ve used USAA for at least 15 years now too, and trust them to not make me feel stupid. In fact whenever I call them, I feel good about doing business with them. Every time.
Bank of America, you just lost my trust forever, and I’ll make sure my children never bank with you, and hope that everyone that reads this thinks very hard about doing business with you too.
A person would have to be an idiot to do business with Bank of America, and I refuse to be an idiot again.
I’ll be closing my business and personal checking accounts at BoA on Monday too, btw. I’m sure someone else will be happy to make sure I don’t feel like an idiot for doing business with them. I’m not the only person leaving BoA, there are lots of others. It’s not that hard to move your money, folks.
Want to read more stories like this? I’m sure you can find them on BankofAmericaSucks.com.