This is an account only from my current memory or understanding, which I am writing to corroborate some of the other stories I just found by running a search on Compass Bank on this site. I am referring to Houston locations but also the procedures of the whole Compass Bank company. Sorry if it's lengthy. I plan to update and edit it over time with dates, details and etc., if I can or if anybody cares.
I have a Compass Bank free checking account which I have held for a little over a year and I feel that I have been robbed of several hundred dollars in ridiculously unjust penalties. Extortion? I have learned that Compass does business very differently than other banks and should be held to a completely separate class of standards and expectations, not treated like a normal modern bank. They handle your money with unreliable Stone Age inefficiency yet pursue fees or penalties with unprecedented voracity.
I am an aware and fair-minded consumer. I have worked for and spent my money with plenty of companies & can appreciate what is fair for the company too and the reasons behind things that a company might do that the average person might not understand without thinking on it. But I know that what Compass Bank is engaged in is ridiculous, even notwithstanding the fact that banks exist to make money through penalties and interest.
I would like to make available first to other consumers guidelines for unknown policies to watch out for, and how to deal with & what to expect from this bank. Before I can describe exactly what happened to me, I must first establish certain rules to explain why it happened. This is a warning about how Compass Bank operates.
1.) Essentially it works like so:
Cash deposits before 4pm are available but not necessarily posted the next day -can't remember which at the moment but I think posting might take a day or two longer. I find it usually reflects in available balance by around 4 am. If the deposit is after four and goes on the next days accounting, it will show around the same time after the next day. It would seem natural for a bank to make cash available immediately, and I'm pretty sure they do at Washington Mutual and Bank of America, for example, but not so in this case.
One must adjust their mind to the idea that processing every deposit is a long, super Herculean undertaking which takes 24 hours while, conceivably, Compass must dispatch a special messenger truck to home office and back with your paperwork. And don't be surprised if all the drivers are off on the weekends.
I have learned to cash my checks at the bank where they were issued. Otherwise, if I deposit a check with Compass, I can expect it to take several days to never to become available. So a check will take probably 2 or 3 days at the very least to become available, always. I don't know exactly because I don't deposit checks anymore. This is not an issue of holding a check to verify it; it is just standard for them.
When you take a check to deposit at any other bank, I think, there is an option to receive cash back from the expected funds of the check. It is not so at Compass Bank. The only way to receive cash back on a deposit is if you already possess the funds in your account, which makes the whole cash back operation totally pointless except as a withdrawal.
I don't know too much about the validity of their phone or ATM balance reports, and I wouldn't trust it. When you use the online banking, there are two balance numbers, available balance and posted balance. Bank of America, for instance, allows you to look at what charges are pending, I believe. However in this case you can only view transactions which have already posted or cleared or whatever you want to call it.
Other things go into a sort of queue, a normal thing in itself, where you can see the available balance amount and do the math to imagine what it is that is pending. You can read a statement of which transactions are finalized in the balance section, but this will not help much with current events as most things take days to post. In other words, there is no way to see which withdrawals or charges are pending, but sometimes they can be visible by means of reflections in the available balance.
The available balance will often be different from posted for several days or longer before something finalizes and you can see what happened. I would not be too surprised to see something held up for weeks either. However, Compass Bank is not accountable for the accuracy of info you get through your online banking, nor does it distinguish between pending draw and finalized draw, (although only posted deposits count), as I will demonstrate.
The very most important thing to remember is that deposits are always, always, always factored in at the end of the day when they go through after draws regardless of which truly posted or was initiated first. Such is the wellspring of my misery and our collective sorrows. Also, do not confuse an available balance deposit with a finalized deposit.
It seems to be the case that taking a customer service issue to the 1-800 # or another branch will usually result in your being referred back to go to your home branch in person. The manager there has the final word and the customer is wrong, wrong, wrong and obviously didn't read the fine print (about how entrusting funds with Compass Bank can legally become a charitable contribution and forced indebtedness at any time.) After having a delinquency history, you really can't get anyone to consider your complaint.
Any draw which hits the available balance and is pending, even if it has not posted yet, and which hasn't sufficient funds to cover it yet, is assessed a $35 NSF charge within hours. You will see the negative balance plus $35 charge in available way before posted balance reflects it. Each separate transaction with NSF will incur another $35 fee. Additionally, the $35 fees bounce upon themselves to bring about final $35 NSF charge(s) to cover the NSF NSF charges.
If your account is not brought current, you will have recurring charges either every three days or every week, I'm not sure which, and the amount will increase the longer the account stays delinquent, I think.
Finally, Compass Bank may not be held accountable at any time for anything ever, including the delivery of any implied services, except for standing behind and enforcing obscure policy and fees, and reserves the right to do so and to change these terms of service at any time without notice. Additionally, Compass Bank reserves the right to attempt to justify its own behavior within its terms of service.
So any time you stop at the gas station or use your card you are responsible for rereading the new terms of service first to see how you are going to get dealt this time. But actually, there is a very specific trap system by which many people are probably losing money. It is distinctly different from the way a normal bank would handle things.
2.) I will try to describe the mechanism by which I was defrauded of my money months ago, but it is sort of complicated and will need fleshing out later. My hope is that I still have the paperwork to prove exactly what happened and why I'm right. I feel that many people must have experienced similar treatment and scam, if you will.
In some cases for me, what happened was that an expected draw was pending, and from my experiences with other banks, I thought I had time to get to the bank and cover the charge with a cash deposit before it posted. But although the charge had not finalized, I received the multiplying $35 charge treatment immediately, days before it did.
On one occasion, there was a discrepancy in my account. I had a handful of small few-dollar charges expected. To the best of my memory right now, I thought I calculated that I had a cushion of a small amount left after covering charges, but I think- when I looked at my online banking one morning, I saw a very small negative amount in the available balance and it had not yet received the NSF charge. It was Thursday or Friday, and I got to the bank around 11 am or so and made a deposit which was enough to cover my delinquency and a little more. However, the teller handed me a written figure, after I made my deposit, showing that my balance was negative forty-something.
It was too late, because I had already received the $35 fee and successive $35 NSF charge for the fee before getting to the bank; even though it was the same banking day, all of it was available, not posted, and I should, at other banks, have had the remainder of the day to bring it current before final accounting. This was before I learned about end-of-next-day cash deposit figuring and right-this-minute draws which count before being finalized. This delinquency multiplied over the weekend into two or three hundred dollars of pure fees, even though the transactions didn't even display in posted for a while.
When I went to my home branch the next week, I was told that they couldn't do anything, and after several exhaustive hours in the manager's office, with no real conclusion, the manager agreed to refund about $70 or $100 but no more, and only because they couldn't find my signed TOS agreement. So they brought me another and made me sign it. Going over the records they had of what was pending that day, it appeared there had been an accounting error with a duplicate charge or else an inaccuracy in the way online banking reported my balance, or both.
It is unclear to me if the discrepancy in the math was something they weren't liable for, or if I was being penalized for some nebulous other thing. But I have some paperwork to go back over. I had to get them to print out what they had in pending that day to explain it, because I had no reference to see that in my online banking or elsewhere.
Regardless of whether the reader believes me, it should be hard for anyone to think hundreds of dollars in fees are justifiable for a single offence: the difference of a dollar-something which turned out not to be my fault anyhow.
$35 NSF fees multiply exponentially with wild abandon like happy little super-rabbits. Sometimes they get too inebriated and can't trace their lineage in the morning. It's not unheard of to discover one who doesn't know who his father is. Whenever you incur an overdraft charge, you get a cute little card in the mail a week or so later by which time you might already owe untold amounts- which concludes, "While this is probably the result of an oversight or error on your part..."
If I were a more tenacious person I would have addressed the matter in a timely manner. As it stands I would be very gleeful to see a class-action lawsuit come against this company and seriously considered trying to get one rolling myself for a time. I am now complacently keeping my account after learning to anticipate their complete inefficiency and lack of real customer service. I simply forestall problems by separating my deposit and draws by weeks, using just in case cushions of rounded numbers, and just generally avoiding trouble with methods such as this.
In a nutshell, I have paid out hundreds of dollars in unjust $35 overdraft fees to this bank and I feel that Compass Bank is an extortionate, duplicitous, and usurious company. I don't have a necessary distrust of all banks and have had much better experiences with other banks. But I feel Compass Bank deliberately extorts and misleads consumers. This bank is not all bad, and they do have some superficial customer service in place, and some nice employees, and relatively faithful and reliable service in other areas. The free checking provides a lot of great features possibly not available together elsewhere. However, their prehistoric method of account maintenance and reporting, and some of their unusual and secretive policies or operations, deserve exposure.