I opened an account with Key Bank in 1996 when I was 16 years old and got my first job. Throughout the years I had many roommates and friends with complaints about their own banks - statement errors, hard to understand fees, disappearing deposits, ect. I always used to say "Use Key! I've NEVER had a problem!!"
Ok, fast forward 13 years later to after the whole financial crisis mess - by which time it seems nearly every company in America had began to run their businesses like a bunch of sketchy h*o's. Ever call an escort agency to inquire and get quoted $200 and decide not to commit to an appointment... only to have two strung out scantily clad women and a 'security' guy show up at your door two days later demanding a total of $600... for... travel fees? After you're done feeling scared and a little shaken up, you begin to do the math as you dig through your now penniless pockets and realize - that's h*o logic.
I hadn't noticed any significant changes in the way my account was handled through Key Bank - that is until spring of 2009 when they began getting pretty creative with their assessment of over draft fees. I have never, ever been assessed an unfair or unusual overdraft fee up until then, but since then it's happened on three different occasions. I generally overdraw and pay the fee about once every 3-4 years, so when it does happen, it certainly doesn't go unnoticed. I'm not going to bore you with all three examples but take this one as a satisfactory case study of Key Bank's new found 'h*o logic':
I should have had $170 left over in my account after paying all my bills and going on an internet yarn buying spree (yes, I knit, but that's NOT the point here, don't get distracted from the evilness of Key Bank). Now if you happen to be Mr. Rockefeller, you may think all you can do with $170 is sit in the gutter reeking of alcohol while you croon 'Brother, can you spare a dime' to passersby. But if you're Mr. Joe Average like me (yes I knit, but see above paragraphs, I also like nude women) then $170 in the account is an acceptable safe barrier to prevent any overdraft fees. I get online later to check my account and I'm $500 in the hole. That's right. I thought it would be +170... but instead I got the dreaded negative sign that your brain always interprets as being in size 72 font on the screen while everything else is about a 10. Turns out there was a "computer error" that charged me twice for the internet purchase - of course I called the company frantically wanting to know why they had charged my card twice and was told that they didn't know anything about it.
My next call was to Key Bank.. turns out the first charge was just a 'preliminary authorization' and the second charge for the same amount was the actually really real charge. So, no wrong doing from the Yarn guys. But Key had taken it upon themselves to heap some pretty b*tchin' overdraft fees onto me.
Now, we all make 'computer errors' now and again, who doesn't? Once I got lonely and contacted an ex girlfriend via instant message... y'know, just to say hi... but then one thing led to another and the next thing I knew she was stalking me on facebook and I had a mild concussion. Hey, we all make computer errors and so I tend to be gracious about these things. But after admitting that the whole thing was a 'computer error', the representative of Key then proceeded to try and tell me that the overdraft fee was my own doing. Her and I had to have been looking at the same screens on our respective computers - it was very very clearly the double charge that did it. But she continued in a condescending judgmental tone "I see here you made a paypal purchase recently..." ($10 set of cufflinks on Ebay, had to have em) And now in my mind I'm feeling ... well... a little guilty... there are starving children in Ethiopia and who was I to be making a paypal purchase? Who was I to be making a paypal purchase anyway because, as Mr Rockefeller pointed out to me later over our weekly cigar meeting, $170 isn't a very strong buffer... perhaps I was in no position to purchase yarn or cufflinks at all... I mean, my god, I hadn't even put anything towards retirement yet...
All of this of course is playing internally in my mind in just a split second before my voice flattens and I hold my ground. "I should have had $170 in my account after everything." She restates "well you know..... Paypal.... " she goes on to explain to me that sometimes it's those seemingly insignificant purchases that we can loose track of that cause us problems later... I change my tone to one equally condescending and ask her to help me with a little math problem. "Is $10... more than $170... or less than... do you happen to have a calculator at your desk?" She informs me that she'll need to speak with her supervisor and then places me on hold only to come back moments later and politely inform me that after reviewing the situation, it looks like the overdraft fee *can* be refunded after all.
So, in the end I won that one too... and all I had to do was deal with my deep rooted money guilt that's been nagging me since childhood with questions of what, after food and water, are any of us really entitled to. I had to get a little bit theatrical and play a non-conflict adverse role that is unusual for me, and finally I had to state the cold hard mathematics of our situation persistently and refuse to go away - leaving Key to revel in their new found h*o logic while they have a field day assessing undeserved overdraft fees to the accounts of clients who love themselves a little less than I do.