07 January 2008

Banks that Suck

Sorry, still no Haskell content. Please don't delete my blog! I'm working on it.

So, we were in the process of migrating our finances to a new bank, after our old bank, Republic, was pwned by Citizen's Bank and stopped doing all the things we liked about it, and started doing all the things we don't like (killing off our overdraft protection arrangement, stopping our various automatic repayment arrangements, removing access to our overdraft account from their online site, charging ludicrous fees, taking 3 days to clear electronic transactions, back-dating checks to try to hit is with more overdraft fees).

Based our on readings of their various rates and policies, we chose Midwest Financial Credit Union, here in Ann Arbor.

Less than a month later, we're now planning to close the accounts we just set up and continue our hunt for a decent bank that doesn't treat our accounts like an opportunity to slam us with fees at every opportunity -- just like Republic Bank didn't. I had my Republic account for about fifteen years and they helped me through many difficult times. Does such a place exist?

Midwest Financial got on our bad side immediately by taking ten calendar days to process a deposited $3,000 check -- while we were out of town. They finally managed to clear it (I think they took it to the originating bank in Erie, Pennsylvania by riding a mule along the old Erie Canal). It's in the fine print that they're allowed to do such things, apparently. (It's in the fine print that they can do just about anything they want, apparently).

Yesterday I tried to make a fairly large purchase (about $600) using a check card on the account -- it has a VISA logo). We have similar cards for our Citizen's Bank account and they function as either debit cards (with a PIN) or credit cards; they work fine, and we've never had an issue like this.

Anyway, the transaction was denied. Today I got word in my e-mail that a much smaller purchase (about $125) that I made online was also denied. Which is odd, because according to our most recent statement we had just shy of $3,000 in that account.

My wife went to the bank to talk to them and apparently someone's credit rating (possibly hers, since she opened the account) is rather low (we already knew that, thanks; that's old news, mostly from her days, now seven years gone, as an under-emplyed single mother), and therefore there is a $100 limit on transactions. Even though there is $3,000 in that account. Now, for a family of 5, $100 is not even a largish grocery store run. Some of these transactions could go through as debits, I guess, although there is probably some relatively low limit on the debit transactions as well. And we have a card with a VISA logo because not everyone is setup to handle PIN-based debit transactions.

They told her she can apply for a 48-hour waiver to make a large purchase, or in four months we can apply to have our "credit" limit raised.

This is all too much. We're going to do neither; we're going to fire this goddamn bank and get our money back. I'm giving serious thought to turning our money into gold, silver, and platinum bars and burying them in undisclosed locations! Maybe we'll just keep our old accounts; we're starting to get used to the exact ways they screw us, as opposed to all these new ways! We are very fortunate in that here in 2008 we are finally getting ourselves to the point where we have a little bit of a safety margin in our accounts, which kept us from getting stranded while we were out-of-state on vacation. But if we didn't have that margin -- if we were still living close to the edge -- we'd have been absolutely screwed. And having been that indebted slob for most of my life, I'm only going to do business with institutions whose policies are designed to be fair to that person, not to make their problems far worse.


nefreat said...

I also have citizens bank. I feel your pain.
Have you tried banking with ING? I was very happy with their savings account so I opened checking("electric orange"). Right now I do not have a lot of money in it but I think they are worth a look.
Good luck!

Paul R. Potts said...

Hi nefreat,

I have not tried ING, but we do have an E*TRADE account (yes, I know about there somewhat uncertain status and the various prognostications about E*TRADE and whether they would go under or not; for what it is worth, reports of their imminent demise seem to have been exaggerated, and in any case we don't have very much money in that account).

My employer won't do direct deposit of my paychecks, so I have to deposit a paper check. I'm not really happy with the idea of mailing (or even Fedexing) my paychecks. There's an E*TRADE branch in Farmington Hills, but that is quite a distance from where I live in Ann Arbor. ING does not seem to have any branches at all. So it's an idea... but I'm just not sure how practical.

We are definitely going to close our account with Midwest Financial; I am quite disgusted at the way they set us up with an account with "training wheels" without mentioning the strange restrictions that were in effect. I had plans to move all our banking to the three accounts we set up with them, which represents a not-inconsiderable amount of money. Banks used to earn money on investing their customers' money, but apparently that prospect doesn't interest them enough these days.