November 3, 2003

Bank Fees Must Die

Last week my husband asked me if I could get our bank to send us a statement with just the current account balances listed. We do get monthly statements, but he wanted the simplified version so he could turn it into the Immigration people when he goes in to get his unconditional green card this month. It seems the biggest thing the USCIS (used to be INS) wants to see is "mingling of assets" and showing how we're both using the bank account, and that it's actually got a little money in it, and so forth. No problem, I said I'd take care of it this week.

So when I got a free moment this morning I called the bank to see about getting this. First of all, they kept me on hold for 20 minutes, after saying at the beginning that average wait time was 3 minutes. I guess somebody at the bank has a little trouble with math. That's comforting. When eventually a live person came on the other end, I made my request. She said there's a fee, and I asked how much. She went to look it up and then said it's $10. I replied with some incredulity, and then outrage. She said that's what it is and asked if I still wanted the copy. I (mostly politely) told her to stuff it and no, I don't, and then I hung up. And then I stewed a little bit.

Ten dollars for a sheet of paper with a couple of numbers on it is robbery, plain and simple. Or maybe it's extortion. Anyway, it's wrong wrong wrong! This costs the bank approximately 38 cents, and 37 of those cents are the stamp! Then I got to thinking, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The banks around here have fallen all over themselves to have free checking accounts, but they really do go all out to charge customers for everything else. If you dare to use another bank's ATM, that's probably going to be 2 fees, one from each bank. And if you want to use online bill pay services, most banks charge a monthly fee for that, or at least a fee per transaction over a certain amount per month. Then there are these dumb service fees, for cashier checks, or statement copies, or getting your checks back. It all adds up to $$$$ for them.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought banks made profits by taking the money in my account, maybe paying me 1% interest if it is a savings account (and nothing if it's a checking account), but loaning that to somebody else and charging 7-12% interest on the loan. I guess I'm just not seeing something here, but it looks to me like that way would yield plenty of profits without having to charge me $10 for a stupid statement!

I'm still pissed off about this. PFFT!

Addendum: A few days after this incident, I noticed a $6.99 charge for November for the Bill Pay service, where I can use the online access to my account to arrange bill payments without having to do it the old-fashioned way with an envelope and stamp. I never had to pay for this service before so I called the bank to find out why they charged me. It turns out the minimum balance for this service to be free is $5000!! I told her to go ahead and cancel the service. I'd rather have to buy a book of stamps every month (and I wouldn't even come close to using all of them for bills) than have them extort more money like this out of me.

Published: November 3, 2003
Editor: stacy

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