Free is Good. Required Minimum Balances, Notsomuch.

Do you ever have something happen that is SO ridiculous and SO entertaining that you can’t WAIT to put it into a post?  Well that’s exactly how I feel right now.  My fingers are DANCING to tell this story.  Because I just got off the phone with my bank, and apparently there is an idiot who works at my branch office.

An idiot who opened an account for me that requires a minimum balance of $4000, with an amount that was approximately half that, and then failed to inform me that there would be service charges associated with said account if I didn’t keep the minimum balance.  In fact, he failed to mention that there was a minimum balance at all.

I discovered this after my husband called me this afternoon to inform me that there was a $20 service fee on my checking account, and perhaps I would like to look into that.  Of course I called the bank to inquire, and the girl on the other end of the phone line explained the situation.

I told her that this information would have been helpful to know when I opened the account, and I also assured her that there will NEVER be $4000 in that account, as it is my personal spending account, and that if it ever DOES reach $4000, I will be purchasing something very large and very fun, very fast.   So in other words, this account isn’t going to work for me.

I fully expected that I was going to have to pull my account because I can’t have monthly fees eating away at my little nest egg, but then she offered to make it a free checking account, JUST. LIKE. THAT.

Oh really?  A FREE checking account?  How convenient.  WHY wouldn’t it have been a free checking account from the beginning?  She wasn’t sure.  Well, neither am I, but apparently it is no big deal to change it.  Plus, as a “courtesy” they are waiving my service fee, and as a “courtesy” we are going to keep banking with Wachovia.  I’m sure the girl behind the phone will rest easier tonight knowing this.  Because I’m sure our measly little accounts are all that’s keeping the bank afloat.  Which reminds me, wasn’t Citigroup going to buy Wachovia?  Whatever happened there?

So anyway.  All’s well that ends well, but honestly.  Doesn’t that beat all?

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30 thoughts on “Free is Good. Required Minimum Balances, Notsomuch.

  1. Never in life do I experience more frustration then in dealing with stupid banks and insurance companies. It seems to be moron central there.

  2. I’ve found that banks, credit cards, etc. etc. RELY on consumers to: a) not check their statements and noticing these discrepancies; and/or b) not follow up and demand for idiocy to be reconciled.

    I’m so glad you called and got it straightened out. If you didn’t already I’d also ask them to refund the sneaky service charge. But I’m New England crusty/filled-with-righteous-indignation like that. 🙂


  3. I think that bank employees are just incapable of giving accurate details of the accounts. I had to drop Suntrust because the customer service reps out-right lied to be about the terms of the accounts I had. An account isn’t “no fee” and “no minimum balance” when it, in fact, has fees and a minimum balance….:-P

    Glad you got it sorted out though! 😀

  4. The one that burns me up is an inactivity fee on savings accounts. One of my children lost half his savings when the bank he had an account specifically designed for children in was sold and the terms were changed without our consent. Suddenly his little bits of birthday and Christmas money began disappearing.

    Makes me look at the mattress in our bedroom a whole new way.

  5. Christine – Oh yes ma’am I did. That’s in the next-to-last paragraph. They most certainly did.

  6. Yep, banks, post office and automated billing services…ugh!

    The above commentor mentioned inactive fees. I went to use a gift card I had received. Yes, I had squirreled it away for a rainy day and not used it…in 24 months. They had taken a dollar off for each month of inactivity. So much for the gift.

  7. I have banked with Wachovia for 10 years. They have always been very helpful and friendly. Actually, I have the same free checking with them and it’s my shopping account, too!

  8. At least they were friendly and quick to correct the problem. I don’t mind the occasional mistake, as long as the company is agreeable to fixing it.

  9. Nice to see they did the right thing! I had not cashed a check at the bank in ages. Recently I tried to cash a personal checks from someone at Bank X (the bank the check was drawn on). I do not bank there, but wanted to cash the check instead of depositing it because if it bounced, my bank would charge a hefty fee to ME. To my surprise Bank X wanted $3 per check to cash them – checks from their own customer – because I did not bank there also. Needless to say I was not impressed. Fortunately for me the check went through my bank just fine for free.

  10. I tell you, banking is just like the health system, you have to be on your toes and call them on things, if not they will be just as happy to continue charging you the $20.00. Good for you!

  11. Something very similar to this just happened to me. I had been banking Wamu for ten years and they’ve just been taken over by Chase. In total, once the takeover happened, I now had 2 checking, 3 savings, 1 credit card and my mortgage through Chase. There was a discrepency on a savings account that I opened ten years ago and they’ve been charging me a service fee since January causing it to be overdrawn! I called, emailed and finally went into the branch to tell them I wanted my money back (very nicely) or I would be closing all five accounts, cancelling the CC and possibly refinancing if this is how they treat their customers, etc. Long story short, they basically said they didn’t care, wouldn’t refund my money (it was $20 worth but for me, it was the principle of it) and I ended up cancelling all accounts. Bottom line, don’t bank with Chase!!!
    Sorry this was so long of a rant but it just happened yesterday so it’s still raw! LOL

  12. At least they fixed it. I ended up changing banks, well from a credit union to a bank, because the geniuses that worked there decided to ask me for my SOCIAL SECURITY number when I was going through the DRIVE THROUGH depositing CASH, as a way to verify who I was. Yeah, not gonna fly.

  13. Wow. I think I’ve worked with that idiot before. Seriously, I usually hate banks. Many times I have thought about pulling all my money out and keeping it in my mattress like they did in the old days!

  14. This EXACT same thing happened to me. No mention of a minimum balance which was just like yours ($4K). When I called to inquire, they waived the service charge and opened a free account for me. That was all well and good but unlike you, I left Wachovia.

  15. Bank fee’s drive me nuts. We used to have accounts at a bank that shall remain nameless and they had hidden fees up the wazoo. We moved to where we are now and have no fees that weren’t pre-explained. I love that.

  16. I’ve been banking with Wachovia for years without problems until the past year or so when the buy-out talks began (and Wells Fargo purchased them). My husband and I started another savings account in addition to our other accounts w/ Wachovia. Each month we asked they automatically transfer a certain $ amount from one existing account into this new savings account. Now, for the past 9 months, they transfer the set amount of money into the account on the 1st of the month- only to transfer it right back out into our other account on the 5th of the month. We have called several times trying to figure this out, and though we’re promised its been fixed, it never is. We’ve given up and will be closing that account. To make it even more frustrating, the bank sends my parents (???) our bank statement for that account even though I haven’t lived with them in years (and my husband never has) and obviously the address on our Wachovia accounts is the address of my husband and I.

  17. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia. That’s our bank as well. Loved your honesty about spending all the money if your account every had that much money in it!!

  18. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia. I don’t think that my checking account has ever had $4000 in it. I can think of lots of ways to spend that amount though!

  19. I have been with my bank for probably 20 years and I recently got a letter saying that if I didn’t have a minimum balance of $_X_ in my account every month they were going to charge me $12 per month, regardless of automatic deposits or whatever previous thing we had set up.

    I was so mad I took the stupid letter into the bank and was fully prepared to leave! But the girl said “Oh, that’s just a form letter that went out to everyone, it doesn’t apply to you, you don’t have that kind of account.”

    If I don’t have that kind of account, why did you send it to me? This is why the banks aren’t doing well. How much money are they wasting (and time) with all of this when they can check who has what kind of account and tailor their information that way??? Burns me up.

  20. Someone was trying to upsell you for their benefit not yours. I worked in banking before and they get paid based on what they sell. Bad customer service. I would complain about the person who set up your account if you didn’t already.

  21. SO funny that you posted this today, as we just had a horrible experience with Wachovia yesterday. We’ve been banking there for years with no problems until last night. My husband checked our account online, and noticed six charges to Cricket Communications. Great, except we don’t have Cricket, and never had. So we called Wachovia and explained that someone must have gotten a hold of our card number, and the charges were fraudulent. Well, wouldn’t you know? They refused to remove the charges AND the resulting insufficient fund charges. Fantastic. So, we fought with them on the phone for two hours to no avail. Now we’re left with over $400 missing from our account, plus the NSF charges. Baloney. Needless to say, we will be changing banks as soon as our account is straightened out.

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