Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · An overdraft nightmare
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An overdraft nightmare

Dominic R. Sondy - September 28th, 2009
An overdraft nightmare

By Dominic R. Sondy 9/28/09

I’ve found that it is a good idea to check my bank accounts on-line every day. I have to look because there are some aspects of modern banking that I cannot seem to grasp. An example would be: Why are deposits some kind of shimmering illusion, floating in electronic limbo for days, while debit purchases are firm reality instantly?
Since the logic of this eludes me, it’s more than a good idea that I check daily. Checking means that I’m less likely to accidentally violate some arbitrary bank rule.
I skipped August 24 and didn’t log-on until late in the day on Tuesday August 25, 2009. That was the day I discovered $200 in Non-sufficient funds fees had been applied to our personal checking account. My wife and I had to talk with Mandy.
Mandy is the person. She thinks, and speaks, the Chase dialect of “banking” and translates capricious bank rules into every-day English. She is also the local bank manager and the only person with the authority to remove questionable fees. We’ve seen her several times. Mandy has removed a pesky little $20 “service fee” that haunts our account. She agrees that it shouldn’t be there. But even Mandy can’t make it stop showing up every month.
First thing Wednesday morning we explained to Mandy that last week, when we had made our most recent deposit into our business account (on August 20), a teller offered to link our business and personal checking accounts. We had made the deposit into our business account the week before and, even with the “float,” it had become available on the same day the overdrafts hit our personal account. The clerk offering the link had said that this new link would automatically transfer funds from one account to the other. This new link would eliminate the need for some transfers as well as the possibility of overdrafts.
Mandy didn’t think one of her tellers would have said this. She explained that such a link just wasn’t possible and wanted to check with the teller (to hear what she had actually said). Mandy never promised to remove the fees. While this matter was being investigated, Mandy suggested that it would be a good idea to transfer some money from our business account into our personal account. Mandy was optimistic and commented that our swift reaction had kept even more fees from being added. I followed her suggestion and transferred $625 from our corporate account to our personal account. That amount was more than enough to cover all the checks and fees to that point. It wasn’t enough.
Mandy called on Thursday, August 27 to say that we had misunderstood the clerk. The teller, in a gesture of good will, had simply removed that pesky monthly “service fee.” The NSF fees would stand.
On Friday, August 28 I discovered that an additional $150 in Non-Sufficient Funds fees had been applied to our personal account.
A phone call to Mandy revealed that these additional fees were being posted on Wednesday (as we were talking with her about the original $200 in fees) and she had no way to know about them at that time. We had to pay up again. I transferred an additional $225 into the account. This amount covered the NSF fees and left a small positive balance. It still wasn’t enough.
On Monday, August 31, yet another $35 NSF fee was charged to our personal checking account. Despite two consecutive waves of fees, an overdraft opportunity had been missed. Chase had held back a NSF on a $19 pizza purchase and saved it until I thought that the coast was clear. They had paid the pizza parlor. However, making that $19 payment gave our personal checking account a negative balance of three cents. That negative three-cent balance generated one more $35 NSF fee. Our checking account balance was negative – $35.03.
I visited with Mandy again, offered to pay the three cents and close the account. Mandy refused my offer. She said that I had to pay $35.03. The latest NSF was irrevocable and the account could not be closed with an outstanding balance. Mandy assured me that no further fees would accumulate on this account. The bank manager further explained that the account would close automatically in 30 days. I left the bank. The matter had not been resolved.
J P Morgan Chase had taken $350 in fees in just one week and demanded more money. The bank was relentless in its determination to take every last cent I had. The money I had budgeted to pay my Chase credit card was gone. After taking the money designated to pay their credit card they came back and took enough to pay for two week’s worth of groceries as well. A chain reaction had started, and it seemed Chase would not be satisfied until I was living in the back of my van. My money was evaporating and no amount I could transfer into my account would ever be enough!
I received a “courtesy call” from J P Morgan Chase on September 11, 2009. My checking account was overdrawn; the amount was now $60.03.
They still wanted $35 for the three-cent overdraft, on a nineteen-dollar transaction, and had added still another fee because the account had a negative balance. The cascade of fees was overwhelming and endless. I read the caller this letter, explained that I had already paid $350 in overdraft fees and would not pay another fee for a three-cent miscalculation. Like Mandy, the caller could not cancel the fees, close the account or convince me that more fees would not be added in the future. However, she did give me an address, and a name, for my complaint letter.

POSTSCRIPT: On September 23, a Chase caller reached me and was as cordial as she was informative. After patiently listening to my story she explained that it would take sixty days for my account to close.
She mentioned the future blemish on my credit record and also said that, since the account would close with a negative balance, Chase would tack on one last $30 parting fee for a total negative balance of $90.03. Then came the big However. “However, I am willing to cancel all but $15 of the current amount of fees. You can pay J P Morgan Chase just $15, close the account and end these ‘collection’ phone calls.” I am speechless, astounded and tempted.
I still do not understand that thing about deposits that float or debits that materialize instantly. I do know that I deposited $850 into my checking account and Chase kept $350 in fees. Now for just $15 more, I can say it was a lesson learned and walk away. Tempting. What do you think the next caller will offer?

Mary Kay Bean, Chase’s media representative in Detroit, provided this respond to Sondy’s dilemma:
“We usually do not discuss individual customer situations because of the confidentiality of our relationships, but there are a lot of things that customers can do to manage their accounts. You can text your account, check it online, or you can tie a checking account to a saving account. Some tie their credit card to their checking account for overdraft protection. There are a lot of tools you can use.”

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