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>After spending the last two weeks dreading the arrival of the postman delivering another overdrawn postcard announcement from the bank on my daughter’s account, I see in the newspaper that Chase and Bank of America are changing their approach.  One way banks have chosen to make up falling profits has been charging exorbitant fees for each withdrawal when the account goes below the balance and calling this overdraft protection.  In the case of my daughter this amounted to nine $36 fees and one for $45 over a weekend period.  No item she purchased on her debit card was over $25.00, mostly $2.50 and $4.00 sales, but because the domino effect was in place, each purchase added one more to the notch.

Obviously, according to the bank, it was not “bank error” that my daughter had gone over her balance; it was her error for not keeping better track of her debit charges, therefore the justification for the charges was there.  And I agree, she definitely needs to come up with a better system for withdrawals and tracking, but $400 in fees!  We both would have preferred that her debit card was denied vs. the “overdraft protection” of which she had not signed up for, but was automatically given.  It gets even more complicated because even though you may check your online balance and see that you have money in your account, you may not, as banks process the larger charges first then the smaller ones.  And these charges don’t come through immediately, so while you think there is money in the account, that $4 Chick-Fil-A sandwich might just cost you $40 if it is the charge that triggers the overdraft “protection”.

If they are at all customer service oriented, the banks will change to a more customer friendly approach.  This nickel and diming on a bigger scale is infuriating customers to look for another way or place to do their business banking.  The banks that come up with a method that will help customers instead of hurting them, will be the winners in the end.

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