Banking, fees, and the common man

When news about all the bank mergers and crashes first starting hitting the networks, I felt a little guilty; after all, I was probably one of those who been a little, um, late on some payments – perhaps I contributed to this?

On the other hand, I’ve also paid more than my share of fees to banks, credit card companies, and anyone else who seems to think it’s okay to do this.

I’m not going to argue that debts are debts and must be paid; I even think it’s very fair to charge a fee for a late payment. But to charge $30 for a payment that is received the day before it’s due? Or to be charged $15 to “expedite” that payment? It’s not my fault if the credit card company uses an online payment system which is configured incorrectly, and denies payments made on or before the due date. If I was mailing a check to them and they had to spend money for someone to open the envelope and log the check, it would not be “late” if it was received on the due date.

But wait, there’s more! A bank will typically charge around $40 for an overdraft. They put in the largest debit/check first; if you have $1000 in the bank, and checks totaling $1020 come through, the one for $700 is paid first. You could be charged for two bad checks because the bank will pay that $700 one first. Right away your account is debited $80.

So because of an error (hopefully), you just paid $80 over a $20 mistake. No wonder no one can get ahead. Credit card companies, too, have fees besides those for late payment: $40 for overlimit, which often occurs because of the “annual fee” which seems to be tacked on at the whim of the faceless, nameless billing department.

Sure, everyone says, call us, we’ll take care of it. Even my bank, that of the “famous FiveStar guarantee” will not “take care of it”. What a joke. And the American public is bailing out these institutions. Why? So they can come up with creative new ways to torment their customers?

What can a customer do? When you figure it out, let me know. And please, no suggestions of payday loans, or car title loans. These places are the masters of messing with the common man: up to and beyond 50% interest. Please.

It’s not that the public is stupid – they’re just broke. If you have to buy your child medicine or take them to a doctor, you just don’t have a choice but to write a bad check or take out a bogus loan. It’s a vicious cycle, and the majority of folks stuck in that cycle are not there by choice, or stupidity, or irresponsibility.

They’re stuck because the powers-that-be are too busy saving the corporate sector and ignoring the common man.


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