The trouble here, like in many other stories, starts with an overdraft fee.
But, unlike so many of the other stories, I'll be the first to admit that the initial overdraft fee was, indeed, my own fault.
You may want to get a drink and a blanket, and settle in, because this story is going to take a while to tell.
My husband and I were moving into a new apartment complex. Our new landlord told us to give him the check "whenever," but we gave it to him the Thursday that we signed the lease, because we were both getting paid over the weekend (my husband on Friday morning, I got paid in cash on Sunday) and knew we would have the amount in the bank by the next day.
We were wrong to "float" a check like that, but we'd had to do it before at our previous rental home, as the old rental had strict due dates, and sometimes took over a week to cash the checks anyhow. What we didn't realize was that our new landlord stops to deposit every day. And that's where we made the mistake.
Naturally, the check ended up clearing quicker than ever before - it cleared the next day, before my husband could put his paycheck (which would've covered the entire check we wrote) into the bank. Whoops. We knew we'd overdrafted when the debit card wasn't accepted for an amount less than $10 at the grocery store that night.
We panicked when we saw our account in the red, but figured we would just deposit our money, bring the balance back up, and pay the fee. After all, we brought it on ourselves - that was a gamble we chose to take when we wrote the check to the landlord in the first place.
After work on Friday, my husband and I went to the ATM to deposit the pay. Keep in mind, this is around 7 pm, so of course the bank itself is completely closed, and not a soul except for us in the drive-thru. My husband puts in his card, enters his PIN, and navigates the menu to select the "deposit" option. He took the envelope from me, and noticed I'd forgotten to write some information on the envelope.
He searched for a pen to fill out the information I'd missed, then turns back around to the ATM only to find it back at the main screen. Confused and unsure of what happened, we used my copy of the card to attempt another deposit. Again, it accepted the card, asked for a PIN, and allowed my husband to navigate to the "Deposit" menu. And here's where we saw what we'd missed before.
AFTER entering the correct PIN and navigating through the menu, it decides to tell us that the use of that particular card is "unauthorized," and the ATM keeps the card. So now we have no way of depositing the money; we had a second checking account linked to the first, but didn't want to chance losing *those* ATM cards too. So we decided we'd wait until Monday, and go personally to the bank to deposit the paycheck.
Monday comes, my husband goes into the bank, explains to the teller what happened. She sympathizes, deposits the money into the account, and tells him that all should be well. We can continue using the account. Since the ATM ate our cards, we would need a new card mailed to us. (We had a third spare, just "in case," but it was our last card, so, of course we wanted another card mailed to us! (on a side note, I don't believe we ever did receive that replacement card...) However, our third back-up card should still work, the employee says. And we go on our way, all fine and dandy.
Next pay period comes, and my husband goes out on his lunch break to deposit his check so it'll be credited to our account earlier. He puts in the card for the account we'd just overdrafted on, and then decides better of it. He'll just put the money in our second account instead. So he hits the "Cancel" button without entering a PIN, and gets the "unauthorized transaction" screen again. And, of course, the ATM keeps his card. Frustrated, he went into the bank - which is open since he got to the bank during lunch - and talked to a teller there.
Once again, he gets told that things "should be" fixed now. After brief arguing with a supervisor, who claims that there "is no cancel option on the ATM" and told my husband that the machine "ate his card because you're not *supposed* to hit cancel" (Note: the ATM says on its PIN screen that, "If there is an error, please select 'Cancel.'" Inserting the wrong card would be an error, wouldn't it?) but finally got his card back for him. (Wasn't it strange that the first time this happened, we were told we'd have to have new cards mailed to us, but now, suddenly, the supervisor can retrieve the card no problem?)
Thinking that things are fixed, he leaves the bank, frustrated but satisfied that things are "okay" now.
Jump ahead another week. By this time, my husband and I have had so much trouble with the first account that we've decided to stop using it, except for with bills we pay online that are already linked to that account. We decided it would be a better idea to keep seperate accounts anyhow; this way, we can keep our bill-specific budgeted money in one account and the leftovers (groceries, gas, random spending, etc.) in another account. We figured that, if we kept a small amount of extra money in the first account, but then transferred ONLY what we needed to pay our bills, we shouldn't have problems with overdrafts on that account.
That would be too simple. Leave it to BB&T to screw even that much up.
I checked the bank account online in the morning, as I always do. (I guess I'm paranoid lately; I like to know that things are in order. I keep a *very* close watch on our finances.) There's our account, the one now designated to ONLY pay bills, and it's... in the red? How can that be? We had enough for bills, plus an extra $5 on top of that, and there was no reason we should have been overdrafted. Yet there it was, plain and simple: the overdraft fee had already been taken out of our account.
Now, here's where simple logic just can't explain why our account was in the red.
We had a bill that we paid online. Let's say that the amount was $66.45. This means that we had $71.45 in the account. The morning I checked the account to find it in the red, the bill had been deducted, which should have left the bank account at $5. Instead, our "current balance" read -$29. Our "available balance" (which shows pending transactions that have yet to clear) read -$95.45.
What didn't make sense was the fact that we had no pending transactions. (At least, not any authorized transactions; we've had unauthorized transactions occur before, but that's another story for another company.) The bill we just paid had been deducted, and the overdraft fee also showed as having been deducted. What didn't make sense is that when we "overdrafted" we were left with a balance of -$29. BB&T's overdraft fee is $34 - so it would only make sense that, had we actually overdrafted our account, our balance should have read -$34 or more.
My husband called our local BB&T branch to try and find out who had a hold on our account, and why a hold (and not an actual cleared transaction) would have overdrafted our account. (Furtermore, why did they clear an overdraft fee before clearing whatever was being held? Wouldn't it make more sense that we'd be overdrafted if the money was actually *taken* from the account?)
Before we were married and I started keeping track, my husband would call BB&T if he couldn't remember a certain transaction that was still being held and hadn't yet cleared. So he called BB&T to find this information out - since, like I said, we had nothing else authorized to be paid, and so should not have any holds - but they "could not" tell him what the hold was for.
It was at this point that I realized that the amount of the hold was actually the same amount as the bill that had just cleared from our account: BB&T was holding $66.45. I mentioned this to my husband, who then mentioned it to the woman assisting him on the line. She said that the company we'd just paid most likely had a second hold and might end up taking money from our account. She suggested we call them and tell them to stop processing this "payment."
My husband called the company, and talked with a customer service assistant there. They acknowledged that, on occasion, things like this did happen. However, their records showed no indication that they had a payment pending for our account with them, and that our prior payment had already been cleared. They suggested we contact the bank again, just to be 100% certain that they (the company) were at fault; if they were indeed at fault, they'd be happy to refund the money.
So my husband called BB&T back. The woman he talked to before (who gave him her direct phone number) did not answer her phone on multiple occasions, nor did she return the call after he left a message on her voice mail. He ended up calling back a couple hours later, and talking with someone else, trying to sort this all out. After all, when it's a matter of nearly $100, it's not something to just brush off. Especially not when they're taking money without reason.
He relayed the information that the company he'd called didn't show any pending transactions from our account. BB&T then told him the most absurd excuse I've ever heard: Apparently, the woman admitted, if they so choose, BB&T can hold money for the amount of a pending transaction for up to seven days after it's actually cleared your account.
The "logic" here is astounding. They expect us to believe that we need to have double the amount of any and all pending transactions in the account at any given time? If we were millionaires, maybe. If we were college students still living off of our parents, sure. But twenty-something hourly-wage workers just aren't able to keep double all amounts in their checking accounts at all times - sometimes it's going to hover around zero. And never - I repeat, NEVER - before has BB&T held a transaction for even *half* a day after payment had already cleared.
My husband was told that this bit about being able to hold the amount for up to a week after the fact was in our terms of agreement. (For one thing, if that WERE in our terms of agreement, we never would have agreed!) She suggested that perhaps it came with a statement, but she insisted that it was there.
The only "logical" reason I can find for this to be the case is that we made a mistake in overdrafting, resulting in the bank having to front over $100 on our behalf. I can see why they might change our terms of service because of that. However, we never received any kind of terms that said that they would hold money after it had cleared - nor did we receive any kind of revised terms of service after the overdraft.
The excuse that "we just moved" couldn't be used; postal forwarding has been in effect the entire time, and we received both the overdraft notice AND a statement from the bank since this all occured, but no terms of agreement. Last time I checked, we need to be notified when changes of this calibur are made to our account.
Finally, the whole hairy mess got sorted out: BB&T refunded the overdraft fee (something they initially claimed they "can't" do) and released the hold. Since then, the only trouble we've had with that particular account is that the debit card still won't work. Otherwise, we simply don't touch it. Not even with a ten-foot pole.
Because of all of this, my husband and I are switching to a new bank tomorrow, now that our money is actually sorted out and back where it should be: with us. BB&T has been nothing but irresponsible, sloppy, and unprofessional. Our experience with them had been bad before; after this entire episode, we're through with them. We've had it with their pain-in-the-rear phone support (hence why we called the actual branch this time around, which didn't prove to be any more of a help) and their online banking makes me paranoid. (The online banking numbers shift on their own during certain hours -
I remember a panicked call to the 24-hour phone support because we had money missing that didn't add up with the receipts we saved, and it was a rather large outstanding amount - the girl on phone support explained that "the numbers jumble themselves in the computer system from 10pm until 6am, so your account won't be correct during those hours.") It seems a little scary that, during certain hours, your account may reflect random changes that don't actually have ANYthing to do with your account. Shouldn't they be a little more responsible than that?
In addition, it's not professional at all to pass the blame on to someone else - in this case, when the woman told us it was probably the company that had billed us that was maintaining a hold - or to make up excuses - like the second woman, who immediately stated that they "had the right" to hold our money, without telling us that they would and without any kind of prior notice. Previously, we'd only had minor - but usual - annoyances with BB&T. After this incident, we won't let the door hit us on the way out; we won't be dealing with BB&T ever again.
St. Augustine, Florida
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on BB&T Branch Banking and Trust Co.