September 21, 2004

Bank of America nightmare

On Saturday, I went to my local branch of the Bank of America and deposited a check. Because I originally opened my account in Maryland, I had to do an out-of-state deposit on the check. This, in combination with the fact that the check was more than the balance of my account, meant that a hold was placed on the deposit.

Fine. It makes sense. Even tho' the check was from a bank, they want to make sure it clears. I was a little shocked that this would take 15 days and suspected it took that long simply because they wanted to get some free interest on the transfer. But whatever.

This morning I tried to purchase a BART ticket with my debit card and got refused. Upon checking my balance online, I discovered that I was massively overdrawn. In fact, Bank of America had taken the amount of the check I'd attempted to deposit and *subtracted* it from my balance!

Not just put a hold on - but actually removed! I was left with the $6 in my pocket.

Thus began a long and terrible time trying to get my money back from the bank that stole it. The converstation involved a three-way call between BofA HQ, a branch in Maryland and the branch in SF. The conversation involved me being asked to describe the teller who had handled the transaction in an attempt to track down the wayward funds.

Everyone agreed that this was a ridiculous thing to have happened, but no one knew how it could possibly be fixed. "These systems just don't talk to each other well" was the best explanation I could get.

At midnight, I've been told, my pumpkin of a balance is supposed to turn back into a carriage. There's apparently a 24 hour time limit on this kind of insanity. But I've also been told that the same thing will happen should I do another deposit of this type.

When I asked why I should possibly want to do business with BofA again, it was suggested that I close my account and open a new one. One that's on a system "that makes sense." It's good advice I plan to heed.

Update: Day Two and BofA still has my money! Amazingly, the problem did not magically fix itself at midnight. How long before I file a robbery complaint?


goldman said...

For another 8 hours, I'm a pumpkin. I'm gonna need to borrow some cash to get dinner tonight as I can't withdraw any money (and because I don't have any food at home).

They told me I could go to the branch and they'd advance me some money if I asked nicely, but, of course, they close soon.

It's a ridiculous operation they've got going, this BofA.

Gwynneth said...

this so doesn't make any sense...if it is the same bank why can't you bank the way you always do no matter what part of the country you are at? i have heard bad things about bank of america from other people. i'm sad for you at this moment, but then, you probably make more money than i do, so i'm not too sad. ;-D

goldman said...

Yes, well, apparently the 'America' in Bank of America is a highly confederated concept.

The Unsomnambulist said...

That sucks nuts.

I've had many, many problems with excessive overdraft charges at BofA, many my own fault, but others caused by their zealous overcharging. I've also been screwed by flaws in their online autopay...

But, they've been quick to correcting most errors, giving me access to "held" funds in emergency situations, and removed fraudulent charges in a matter of hours on two seperate occassions.

goldman said...

I like that this post is a BofA horror story dumping ground a year after I wrote it.

goldman said...

For what it's worth - the best remedy I found for dealing with BofA was to dump them altogether in favor of a credit union.

Yes, it's a terrible pain to switch banks (new checks, new debit card, new auto-billing). But, it actually takes much less time than you'd think.

And banking with a credit union is far superior. When you have a problem, you can call your local branch and the people want to help you.

It's an amazing concept.

This credit union locator may help you find a good choice near you.

Josh said...

Chalk me up as another BofA fraud victim. They've shaken me for dozens upon dozens of overdraft fees, only a fraction of which were actually my fault. I could go and on about this, but here's the short version:

1)They clear your credits in order from biggest to smallest. That way, if you have just enough to clear the biggest, all the smaller ones bounce. Doing it the other way would clear more transactions, meaning less overdraft fees. They won't admit to this practice unless you specifically ask them about it.

2) When you make a debit (like at an ATM machine) they often put the money BACK in your account so you can spend it again. But of course it wasn't really back in your account, and if you do spend it again you get with an overdraft. They mumble something about "vendor paperwork" but other banks don't do this.

I cancelled my account last week, and I am seriously considering legal action against them. Also for what it's worth, I created the entire "controversy" section on their Wikipedia entry. All facts.

goldman said...

It was eventually resolved, but I'll never do business with BofA again.

My recommendation is to close your account and move to a local credit union. I've been with mine for the past 2 years and never had a problem.

hal4511 said...

Yup ... here comes another horror story. The wife and I went to a retirement party last night and I got to talking to a fellow I hadn't seen in many years. The conversation started off with the usual price of gas blah, blah, blah ....

Then I mentioned that BOA had charged me 35.00 for a 5.00 transaction and that I had been at the local office to complain (to no avail) when he told me his story. Seems that his wife had been diagnosed with MS and had recently gotten her on SS disability and they went to BOA to open her an account. She had all the proper ID's .... drivers license, birth certificate, marriage license etc.

They told her that they could not open an account WITHOUT a credit card with a picture on it. Now who do you know that has pictures on all their cards ??? BOA that's who ... Just another scam to take more money

People take your banking somewhere else these people are crooks to the 10th magnitude ....

Anonymous said...

I am a single mother of three and from time to time go over on my account. This time I got charged 3 overdraft fees on 5/23 so I 5/24 I hurried and returned a pair of shoes I had purchased for myself (what was I thinking) that did not show up as a credit yet and a 5 dollar pizza and another trans in the mean time showed up and since B of A had already taken $105 out in fees of course there was not enough money there so I received two more fees $70 dollars. I went to the branch in San Ramon, CA to ask if there was anything they can do and the Assistant Manager didn't even ask me to take a seat or anything and told me if there was no Bank error there was nothing they can do. I asked to speak to the Manager she went to his desk and returned to say he agreed with her decision and there was nothing they can do. I asked if the manager was refusing to see me and she said again that he was supporting her decision and there was nothing they can do. I said well then I would like to close my account (I have been a customer since 1990) She asked if I had direct deposit. I said yes she said you may want to rethink that since it is probably close to my pay day and will hold up my funds. I have never been treated so poorly. Needless to say I called customer service she said basically the same thing I asked to speak to a supervisor in tears by this time and the supervisor eventually agreed to reverse the second set of charges($70)I am going to close my account ASAP to a bank who treats their customers as human beings.

Anonymous said...

To be honest the inital story sounds like you've been screwed but some of the horror stories following sounds like 50-50 errors. I bank at regions and have the same problems things not showing up on my account the day that i charge the and forgetting about it later but you should never go by what the online account says and go by the checkbook register. At regions i was slammed with numerous overdraft charges (about 100.00 worth on top of what i had done) I miscalculated my funds and checked my bank account to see if it had gone through and the transactions hadn't so i rushed over and deposited 100.00 at 2:12pm well there is a new rule where i live that transactions added after 2 will not be available until the next day which i was fine with because the other shouldn't have gone through. I checked my account all night long and nothing i finally went to bed at midnight satisfied that i had dodged the fees. When i woke up i saw that regions posted that i had 3 transations that had gone through on the previous days date and had caused me to be 100.00 overdrawn. Obviously this was my fault for not having been more careful with my money even tho the online account didn't show it. Thats just my opinon tho- I'm switching from regions to another bank for the reason that my lifestyle makes it impossible for me to depost anything before 2pm and living pay check to pay check as a student that is crucial.

Anonymous said...

Bank of America's "overdraft" system is a crafty scam to generate positive cashflow, in my opinion. Here's why I feel this way:

I have two accounts with BofA that I manage using the same Online Access ID (I see and manage both accounts after logging in). One account "A" is where I keep the majority of my funds and the other "B" is from where I write checks, make credit-card purchases (card has a Visa logo), etc.

When I make a CREDIT purchase (not Debit) on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) using "B", I transfer funds from "A" to "B" using that same night. The snafu is, for my location, I need to make such a transfer BEFORE 10:45pm "cut off" for some unknown-to-me reason, or the funds will NOT hit the account in time to cover the credit transaction. In that scenario, BofA will charge me $35 PER transaction that it now considers in overdraft.

On a side note, their transfer confirmation page does NOT bother to list their server's current time for your records (eg: a print out). I find that equally as frustrating, since you would have NO proof to refute a claim that you did indeed transfer before their "cut off" time.

Why question is WHY would my transfer from "A" to "B" -- two BofA accounts BOTH managed by my one Online Access ID -- not be INSTANTANEOUS? The funds are MINE already (not from a recent deposit), so why not just consider the funds instantly moved when I do an online transfer (even if the physical funds still have to go thru a wire-transfer or similar process the next business day)??

I firmly believe that this is a HUGE money maker for Bank of America; to scam extra cash from their customers who are less fortunate, living paycheck to paycheck thereby keeping a low average balance.

Again I say, if the funds are already in my account "A" and I transfer them online to "B", why is that not immediate REGARDLESS of the transfer time?

I am exploring other banks and their policies at this time.

Steelrider2 said...

Bank of America Froze My College Tuition!
These people are terrible, forcing consumers to use automated voice response systems that shield real people from resolving their problems. I am trying to pay college tuition and they froze my account due to a “technical problem” with their on-line web site. 9 days later and countless hours of calls to branches, their corporate headquarters and useless customer service representatives; my tuition is still tied up. No one will help or return phone calls.
There are some really bad people employed at BofA. Considering all the good choices consumers have, Bank of America doesn’t deserve our business.
We need to send them a message by taking our business to better, customer friendly institutionswnev

Anonymous said...

this exact thing is happening to me RIGHT NOW. what i don't get is that i've deposited a check much larger than this one before, and never encountered the "we're gonna treat your deposit like a debit just for fun" situation. makes me want to die. living off quarters right now. ugh.

April said...

This is happening to me right now! My husband and I have had nothing but problems since we started with BOA about a year and a half ago. We deposited a check for $2750 plus my husband's paycheck. I waited 10 business days before using any of the funds because I figured there would be a hold placed on it. On the 10th day, I called BOA to verify that the funds were available. They told me "yes". So, that evening I paid bills both online and wrote checks for some. Two days later I pull up my account online and it shows us negative -$684.42. WTF?!!!!! My online statement showed where they removed the $2750 check that we deposited, said the person who wrote the check had insufficient funds. Why didn't they figure that out during the 10 day "holding" period? Why was this discovered only AFTER the holding period and AFTER I called to verify the funds were available?!! The words pissed, mad, etc. just do not do justice to the way I feel. We have literally been negative in our bank account since 03/20/08. Our lights have been turned off and we have no groceries and no access to money because BOA will not work with us, help us or anything. I went in to one of my local branches to see if they could work with us and the only response was "I'm sorry this happened to you, but there's nothing we can do." My husband gets paid today (thank God! I can go to the grocery store now and maybe get our lights turned back on), but if we put his check in the bank over half of it will be gone because we're still negative! We deposited over $3000 in the bank and we are negative over $600! How could this happen? We are not rolling in money, we are barely scraping by as it is. We budget and spend very carefully. I'm afraid that BOA is going to make us loose everything we have. Not to mention the disapointment on my two kids' faces when we're eating cereal for supper again because we have no food! Do these bankers realize that it's not all about money, they are messing with peoples' lives?! Reading all of the other stories, I wish there was some way we could all band together and file one big complaint or something. Words can not describe how bad of a mess we are in because of this bank. Does anyone know of any way yet to file a complaint that will actually be given some attention?