Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A credit to the cause.....

A few years ago, I closed a checking account with a bank whose name I won't disclose but rhymes with "Hank of America." It had a credit balance of, say, 40 or 50 dollars. I closed the account with a letter and a request to mail me the balance in the form of a cashiers check. I had no checks or other obligations outstanding. I received the check along with a letter expressing H of A's sadness that I was parting company with them as a customer.

Last week, I received a collection notice from an organization whose name I won't disclose but that I'll call "NCO Financial Services number 2." The notice referenced the old B of A H of A checking account number and said I had an "overdraft" of about $32 that the bank was sending to collections if I did not pay up.

I've worked in banking, off and on, for more than four years in several capacities, most of which were operations- or customer service-based. I think I know what happened. When the account was officially closed, it probably still had to cycle through one or two fee cycles. The account was at a zero balance, probably had a zero-balance fee, which caused an overdraft fee, which caused the account to close with an overdraft.

Knowing this, however, does not make me less angry. My credit history is probably as close to immaculate as the credit history of a graduate student who makes about $15,000 a year can be. It is clear that in this case, the way Hank of America organizes its operations did not work, and I wouldn't be surprised if other customers are harmed by its clumsiness. I have taken care of this matter with the bank, but I will not be its customer again.

I should say that I have a strong distaste for most populist outcries against the "power elite" and the near conspiratorial outlook some have about "the banks" and the economy. Still, I'm a bit perplexed how, given the economic and political climate, Hank of America apparently does not take more careful steps to serve its customers.

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