RE: COMPASS BANK - "free" checking accounts???
NEW FEES AND QUESTIONABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES
(see contact info for key individuals at Compass' corporate headquarters at end of this email)
Before deciding whether or not to do business with Compass, please consider the following information, and my own personal experience. There are many other complaints on this website relating to Compass Bank's questionable business practices, which leads me to believe that my experience with Compass is NOT out of the ordinary.
Compass Bank heavily advertises that they offer "free" checking accounts, however, in November 2004 Compass instituted NEW FEES, which potentially make them the most expensive bank with which to do business. (see financial report below, which touts a 14% rise in profits in the last quarter of '04 "helped by rising fees")
Compass Bank now charges $6 PER DAY for up to 30 days ($6 x 30 days = $180 total), PLUS a $35 overdraft fee PER CHECK, if your account becomes overdrawn. This is a total of $215 if you accidentally bounce one check, and don't realize it until you get your next month's bank statement.
My personal experience was this -- I had not actively used my checking account for several months, and admittedly had not balanced my account, but had just looked to make sure that all the checks were indeed written by me, and that I had a "cushion" of funds in the account. I mistakenly believed that I had approximately $200 extra in the account, and was planning to close the account (in favor of using Bank of America, because they offered not only free checking, but also free online billpay, and a very user-friendly website, unlike Compass's very user-UNFRIENDLY website). Back to the details of my experience -- I had written several checks last summer to a man for lawnmowing services, and he had apparently held on to several of the checks, until mid-November when he cashed them. Compass honored the first check, which (they say) resulted in my account being $19.71 overdrawn. They returned two additional checks to the "lawn man" unpaid. For this I was charged a total of $285 -- $6/day for 30 days of being overdrawn ($180), plus three $35 overdraft fees ($105).
In total, for the one check Compass Bank "covered" for me, at a cost to them of $19.71, plus the two checks that they returned without paying, they charged me $285 in fees. I readily acknowledge that I was at fault for allowing my account to become overdrawn, and I have no issue with paying the three $35 overdraft fees (I understand that they have to recover their costs associated with processing the overdrafts); however the $6 per day fees are, in my opinion, excessive, unconscionable, and equivalent to "highway robbery". Surely this must be a violation of some banking law or regulation?
Bottom line - I attempted to negotiate what I honestly believe was a reasonable resolution. I agreed to pay all three of the $35 dollar overdraft fees ($105), because I did indeed overdraw my account, but I requested that they waive the $6/day fees, allow me to pay the $105, and then close my account. They eventually agreed to waive one of the $35 overdraft fees, but refused to waive the $6/day fees (total $180), and stated that they "could not" close my account until all fees were paid. I asked what other recourse they could offer me, and what action they would take if I didn't pay the amount they required to close the account. They said that after 90 days they would report my nonpayment of fees to credit agencies, and also report my name to the national check-processing company that approves acceptance of checks at most retail stores, businesses, etc. (in other words, they would ruin my credit, and prevent me from being able to write checks anywhere - even checks from another bank). I feel this is an extremely unfair situation, tantamount to blackmail, and Compass Bank's actual business practices, in my case, certainly are in conflict with their claims of being customer friendly (they claim to be "just a little better" than other banks, and that they are "un-bankish")....
The following was COPIED DIRECTLY from Compass Bank's own website: http://www.compassweb.com/compass/jalb/index.cfm
"The "Just a little better" approach to banking
and the art of the understatement.
"Just a little better"? What kind of a bank slogan is that?
Wouldn't a far more grandiose statement or overstatement be more appropriate? Something like "You can bank on it" or "Exceeding your dreams everyday." True, a slogan along those lines would be a lot more bank-ish than "Just a little better." But is "bank-ish" a good thing? Look at the things that we now associate with that word. Bank-ish is impersonal. Frustrating. Disappointing. Unpleasantries that we've all come to accept as part of the banking process. Just like we've come to accept the bank-ish overstatement. Seems strange doesn't it? We think so.
And that's exactly why we pride ourselves at
Compass Bank on being as un-bankish as possible.
Hence our much understated slogan. "Just a little better" means that we do things to make your banking experience better at every turn. Things like free ATMs and rebates for the ATM fees that other banks charge you. Staying open on holidays when other banks are closed. Giving you someone to call a live person to contact when you open a checking account. Just to name a few. Real, tangible differences that add up over time.
Added up, do all these "just a little betters" equal "much better"
or "way way better"? We'll let you be the judge.
For now we'll just focus on the little things. And if your experience with us exceeds the expectations you had based on our rather understated slogan, well, we can live with that.
Have a great day."
More Compass Bank info, from Reuter's:
Compass Bancshares 4th-quarter profit rises 14 pct
Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:32 AM ET
NEW YORK, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Compass Bancshares Inc. (CBSS.O: Quote, Profile, Research), a large bank in several southern U.S. states, on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit rose 14 percent, *HELPED BY RISING FEES*.
The Birmingham, Alabama-based company said net income rose to $98.2 million, or 78 cents per share, from $86.2 million, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier.
Compass Bancshares, Inc. is a financial services company with four operating segments: Corporate Banking, Retail Banking, Wealth Management and Treasury. The Company's principal bank subsidiary is Compass Bank, which conducts a general commercial banking and trust business at 376 banking center, including 136 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 71 in Arizona, 42 in Florida, 28 in Colorado and 10 in New Mexico. In addition, Compass Bank operates loan production offices in Georgia and Maryland. The Company's other bank subsidiary is Central Bank of the South, which has limited activities. In addition, the Company, through its wholly owned subsidiaries Horizons Insurance Group, Inc., Maxson-Mahoney-Turner, Inc. and Schaefer-Smith-Ankeney Insurance Agency, Inc., is engaged in providing insurance products to its customers. In January 2005, the Company acquired Stavis, Margolis Advisory Services, Inc., a Houston, Texas-based investment advisory firm.
Quick Financial Synopsis
CBSS, holding company for Compass Bank & Arizona Bank, conducts commercial banking and trust business in TX, AL, FL, AZ, CO, NM, and NE. For the FY ended 12/31/04, net interest income after LLP rose 2% to $806.2M. Net income rose 8% to $369.8M. Net interest income reflects reflects lower average rates paid on interest-bearing transaction accounts, FHLB, & other borrowings. Net income also reflects *INCREASED INCOME FROM SERVICE CHARGES ON DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS*.
*****To make Compass aware of how you feel about their business practices, here is some important contact info:
D. Paul Jones, Jr., Chairman, CEO
Compass Bancshares, Inc.
15 South 20th Street
Birmingham, Alabama 35233
(205) 297-3000 (main # corporate headquarters)
Butch Yates, Special Assistant to the CEO
direct fax #(205) 297-6082
Tim Dayton, Director of Public Relations (205) 297-3554
Ed Bilek, Director of Investor Relations (205) 297-3331
Investor Relations (205) 297-6750