Monday, October 25, 2004

Determining The Lie With A Compass

I made passing mention the other day that I believed Compass bank was the worst bank on earth, I didn't explain further because I really fear I'm getting this on-line reputation of a grumpy old man who complains a lot.

I really would feel bad if I took that title away from more deserving grumpy old men

I'm only kidding Clarence...and by the way happy birthday.

This is a long story but I'll try to simplify it.

Amy has had a small bank account at Compass Bank she was lured into establishing by their marketing ploys. She used it for her very small business to keep tax monies separate, etc. We eventually decided it was unnecessary and that the lures Compass Bank enticed Amy into opening the account with were somewhat bogus, so we were going to close the account.

However, the last time Amy was in the hospital she needed some cash and decided to take out the remaining 40 dollars the ATM showed she had as her balance. To make a long story short, she didn't have 40 dollars in the account; she had 3 dollars, even though the ATM said she had 40.

Nine days later I received a notice saying the account was over drawn and had been charged a 35 dollar overdraft fee. It said if I didn't pay the outstanding balance in 8 days from the date of the notice (9 days previous) we would be charged again. I stormed over to the bank and was greeted with shrugs and incompetence. I grudgingly paid 107 dollars...70 dollars in fees, plus the 37 dollars Amy withdrew over the 3 dollars she actually had in the account.

I was furious, Amy was furious...but we had more pressing matters to deal with so we took the account down to zero and said we'd deal with it later. Amy eventually convinced a rather snide person on the phone to waive one of the 35 dollar fees.

Anyway, we've been by the bank 3 times since then trying to close the account and each time we've had to sign our names on a list and wait. Each time after about 15 to 30 minutes we left. Today we decided to wait them out.
Eventually a very pleasant young lady handled our issues. She smiled, talked a lot about unrelated matters, and then refused to waive any fees. She did manage to close the account.

In the process I asked her how it was possible that an ATM could allow you to withdraw more money than you had in your account. She told me, and this is the truth, "Well, these things are calculated using certain dynamics such as the possibility that you might have direct deposit."

We didn't have direct deposit on that account....we had 3 dollars.

So I posed it again hypothetically...I said, "If I came in here and opened an account with 20 dollars, could the next day I go to an ATM and take out 300?"

I swear to you she told me, "Well, this is all based on a matrix of factors most of which are spelled out in your disclosure statement."

Huh? I gave up on that one and instead asked how it was possible that I could mail items to people in India and the Persian gulf and they receive them in 6 days, but that two notices telling us our account was overdrawn took exactly 9 days each to reach us; exactly one day late for me to avoid being charged a 35 dollar over draft fee?

I swear her answer was, "These items are sent to Atlanta where they are transcribed and then a certain set of processes are used before the overdraft mailings are sent out."

Huh? Where do they hire people like this...manure factories?

For the benefit of those of you who might not speak the language...this is gibberish. In my opinion, it is in fact a lie. This young woman, nice as she may be, had no idea what the heck her company does and, in my opinion, Compass bank purposely finagles as many "fees" as possible and delays sending notices of overdrafts in order to double those charges.

I asked for copies of the "disclosure statements" which supposedly spelled all this out for us. The young woman didn't have the exact copies, but the pamphlet she gave me contained enough of the "bank speak" to give me the general idea....again, for your benefit I'll translate, "Compass bank can tell you anything, charge you anything, and change the rules and rates of its charges at any time without notifying you, unless there's some law somewhere against it and you happen to find it."

Dynamic Transcribed Matrix.

If this were algebra that would work out to an equation something like this: D+T+M= BS

We have accounts at 2 other banks, I've had accounts at perhaps 15 banks in my lifetime, and never have I heard such unadulterated monetary malarkey.

There's more....the way they lured Amy into setting up an account was with the promise that they never charge "ATM" fees, plus they reimburse fees charged by other banks if you used their ATM's. That sounds pretty good. Until you read the disclosure statement which states you must save every ATM withdrawal slip and mail it to Compass with a request for reimbursement. Then they'll reimburse you, unless they change their minds and the "disclosure statement" says they can change their policy at any time without any notice.

I have felt betrayed by Citibank for charging exorbitant interest rates, but at least they were honest about being greedy slime. I have felt dismayed by Chase for outsourcing their customer service to India and being unwilling to treat us like human beings, but Compass my the worst bank on earth.

I'm done being grumpy now....I think I'll go back and look at the pictures in the previous post.