• Report: #357326

Complaint Review: Bank Of America

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  • Submitted: Wed, July 30, 2008
  • Updated: Fri, September 12, 2008

  • Reported By:Albuquerque New Mexico
Bank Of America
bankofamerica.com Nationwide U.S.A.
  • Phone: 800-432-1000
  • Web:
  • Category: Banks

Bank Of America B of A determined to charge fees and let customers figure it out ,or hopefully not, Nationwide

*Consumer Comment: I disagree with the banker who replyed to you.

*Author of original report: Response to Matrix225 - it is NOT always the customers' fault

*UPDATE Employee: Careful attention to detail -

*Consumer Comment: The Government Agrees With You

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I have three accounts with B of A, personal checking, money market savings, and a small business checking account. They are all tied together in the "Advantage" package, which means that there are reduced or no fees, such as no maintenance fee for the small business checking account (or at least, there isn't supposed to be one - more on that later). To keep the Advantage status, I have to maintain a minimum combined balance and all that, and to stay current on my accounts. I do both of those things quite well, thank you.

So a few months ago, I sent out some checks to some subcontractors that do work for me on a regular basis. Normally, I hand them the checks at the job site, but sometimes I mail them. Then I got a call from one of the guys a few weeks later indicating that he hadn't received his check. He offered that maybe it was because he had moved (!) and I didn't have the new address. It had been long enough since sending the check to realize that it had not been forwarded to him. So I issued him a new check and went to the BofA web site to look into putting a "stop payment" on the original check. Before stopping the payment, I wanted to know what the fee was, so I looked it up on their schedule of fees.

https://www2.bankofamerica.com/efulfillment/documents/31-11-3000ED.20080201.htm

Note that under "Miscellaneous" there is the stop payment fee of $28. However, in the far right, there is the column for what accounts would qualify for a waiver of this fee. Included there, "Advantage" is listed. OK, so based on this, I figured that there would not be a fee to stop payment, since I'm an Advantage customer and all my accounts are linked. I went ahead and submitted for a stop payment, and entered the check number and the amount on the B of A site. Part of this process is selecting a reason for the stop payment. One of those options is "lost or stolen". That is what I selected.

I'm sure you can guess what happened. But before we get there, let me say that in general, I watch every statement like a hawk since B of A is so sneaky about sticking fees in there. So I checked the account online for several days and did not see any fees. All set, then! But no, in the mail came a letter showing the fee of $28 as having been applied to the account for the stop payment.

I immediately called the B of A customer service line to complain about this and let them know that this went against their own schedule of fees. I got through to a customer service rep and told her the story. She informed me that although my accounts were linked under the "Advantage" plan, that my small business checking account was actually not an "Advantage" account, thus the fee was charged. I raised hell about this (in a polite way) and explained that it just did not make sense, since the monthly maintenance fee was waived for this account under the "Advantage" plan. She explained again that, although this was true, a stop payment fee on the business account did not qualify for a waiver under this plan.

Needless to say, I remained calm but very firm in my determination to get rid of that fee. I kept pressing her to see that B of A's logic on this point was flawed. Then she mentioned that "if the stop payment had been for the reason that the check was lost or stolen, then there was no fee." I explained to her that yes, indeed, the check was lost because of my subcontractor's change of address, and that it was reported as such from the beginning when I submitted the request. She agreed to waive the fee.

Incredible, no? I was fairly upset by having to waste my time to deal with this crap. But happy that I had done so, and gotten rid of the fee that I should never have been charged in the first place. Just imagine the hell I'd have gone through if, because of that fee, my account had NSF to cover another check!!! And it would have been B of A's fault from the beginning!!

OK so on to the aforementioned issue of the monthly maintenance fee on the small business checking account. If this account were not linked to my personal accounts in the "Advantage" package, I would have to pay a $19 monthly maintenance fee. Of course this is absurdly high for a very small business, but since the accounts are linked, this fee is waived. However, every year since I opened the account, on the anniversary of opening the account, the waiver is dropped and the fee shows up again on the next statement. So, I have to wait and see the fee on the February statement, call customer service, explain to them that my accounts are linked under "Advantage" and that the fee is to be waived. They apologize, re-start the waiver, and life goes on. But here's the funny part. Each time I have done that (three times so far) they have assured me that THIS time, they put a lifetime waiver on it. Ha ha ha. I know now, for a fact, that next February, the fee will be re-instated again, despite that my accounts are in good order, meeting the min balances, and all that.

Here's the bottom line and I'm sure it is not a surprise to anyone dealing with B of A. They LIVE off of these fees, and they have many many ways to trying to stick you with them. Yes, many fees can be avoided by simply managing your accounts properly and leaving a margin of safety to keep from getting NSF, for instance. But these two examples above show clearly that they will charge you fees NO MATTER WHAT and then to correct these errors that THEY made, individuals must give up some of their time to contact them and set things straight. It is not difficult to imagine that out of 100 of such fees charged "in error", only a small portion of the customers will A) notice and B) do anything about it. So B of A gets to keep the change. Multiply this by MILLIONS of accounts!!! How on earth is this legal? Why hasn't anyone set up a class action suit and nailed them for this?

Despite how clever they think they are (and clearly they do) what they are doing is flat out WRONG.

Yes, I have the option to move my accounts, and indeed I am preparing to do so. I hope to be able to find a bank that can approach their level availability locally without resorting to blatantly wrong practices such as the examples above.

Thank you for reading, and I'll be interested in your responses.

Karl
Albuquerque, New Mexico
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/30/2008 09:12 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Bank-Of-America/nationwide/Bank-Of-America-B-of-A-determined-to-charge-fees-and-let-customers-figure-it-out-or-hopef-357326. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

I disagree with the banker who replyed to you.

AUTHOR: Needsloomis - (U.S.A.)

If the site states you will be charged a fee unless you are an advantage customer, it is bait and switch regardless of the fine print on your unexplained contract.
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#2 Author of original report

Response to Matrix225 - it is NOT always the customers' fault

AUTHOR: Karl - (U.S.A.)

Matrix225,

Let me get this straight. On one hand, you are suggesting that I get to know my banker better than I have already. On the other hand, you are saying that the personal relationship won't matter - the maintenance fee waiver should have gone away after 2 years from the account being opened?

Let me ask you this: so which B of A employee/s has been untruthful to me? The manager who opened my account? The customer service rep to re-instated the waiver the first time? The customer service rep who re-instated my waiver for the 2nd time? The customer service rep who re-instated my waiver for the 3rd time? Or you? Why is it that EACH of them prior to you mentioned a permanent waiver, but you either don't know about it, deny it, or maybe the policy changed since January, 2005?

Yes, I can tell that customer retention is very important to you, and to B of A.

And I'm curious why you did not address the second part of my grievance - the part about the stop payment fee.

My point is this - where there is smoke, there is fire. These things are NOT always the customer's fault, but you and B of A want to portray things that way. You are hurting customers and making money doing it. Your policies are Machiavellian at best, and criminal at worst. And Edward's note shows it. If a reasonable, responsible and competent person can not wind their way through your legalese and avoid your fees, then something is wrong.

Edward - I'll take a look into that report - thank you for posting this information. I know I'm not the only one that sees what B of A is up to.
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#3 UPDATE Employee

Careful attention to detail -

AUTHOR: Matrix225 - (U.S.A.)

I'm a banker at Bank of America and we are trained to provide as much assistance as possible, retention is one of our highest priorities, however employee motivations differ. the fact of the matter is that your banker must not have taken the time to explain your accounts to you, or wasn't given the time they needed.

Your Business account fee should have been waived for you for 2 years and 2 years only irregardless of your personal relationship with the bank. These are two seperate entities and have to be treated as such. I'm glad that you carry the balances in your personal accounts to qualify for the Personal Advantage, however if you want to be a Business Advantage customer you also have to carry the required balances in your business acounts as well (balances very by state). More than likely you are in a business economy checking package, which is basically a no frills package for small businesses with low account balances. this has a lower required balance for the individual account to wiave monthly fee's.

We can in fact only waive the fee for one year at a time unless it is at account opening which is the only time we can waive the Business account fee for our Personal Advantage Customers for two years. The fact that the account fee's are still being waived is our attempt to keep you as a customer (This is not done for many customers).

The most important thing to do is to walk into a bank and introduce yourself to a banker or even better a small business specialist and just tell them you need help understanding your accounts, and you want to know how you can get the most out of them we will be glad to show you everything you need to know. some of my customers come in with a list of ten or fifteen questions they need answered and we get to them all, and when your done if they don't offer you a Business card, ask them for one, ask them for their direct line so you can call them personally.

My Business customers are among my most important customers and I would be offended if they went to anyone but me for help with there accounts, and I know I'm not the only one that feels that way.

If all else fails Call the phone bank the number is listed on the bank of your atm or debit card.
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#4 Consumer Comment

The Government Agrees With You

AUTHOR: Edward - (U.S.A.)

In a way, Your report title is EXACTLY what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in its report in March of this year. Go Figure! GAO workers posed undercover as customers and they overwhelming found these same roller coasters, winding mazes, detours ahead, and other hidden traps and diversions when trying to LOCATE and MAKE SENSE of fees. So you're not alone.

And yes you are also correct that if these WRONGFULLY charged fees would have resulted in overdrafts, then well, of course it would have been your fault. At least that's what some would have you to believe. You should keep a check register, learn to balance your account, yada, yada, yada....you know the routine. All of which is good sound advice, but is in NO WAY related to the RIPOFF fees that started the whole ordeal and just MIGHT HAVE led to additional loot for the Bandits of America.
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