Nickel and dimed

From a reader:

“I’m not sure if you’re still taking tales of outrage, but here are mine. Individually, they aren’t particularly off-putting. Collectively, they are infuriating.

I have several bank accounts at Washington Mutual, as well as two lines of credit. I also have a business account from which I transfer payments to another Washington Mutual account holder pursuant to a business contract.

This morning, I went to deposit two checks that I wanted to have credited against one of my lines of credit. I have done this in the past and, other than a fee they charge and a 7-day hold, there have been no problems.

Today, they refused to allow either check to serve as payment against my line of credit. The first check was made out to me, and I simply wanted it deposited and applied against the line of credit. They had done this very thing in the past. No can do, according to the manager, it must be deposited to your account and sit there for seven business days before you can use the finds to pay the line of credit. That’s an inconvenience, but they add up: After seven days, I have to physically go back to the bank to have them apply the funds to the line of credit. The reason? You can’t pay off more than $10,000 per day of a line of credit by transferring funds from your bank account to the line of credit unless you do it in person. You can’t call and accomplish this by phone, and you can’t do it over the internet. On top of that, they charge a $30.00 fee when you want to try to pay your line of credit in person. Thus, they take your money and sit on it for seven days (even though I can prove after one day that the funds have cleared the bank on which they were drawn). Then, they make you physically come back to pay them, and they charge you for the privilege of doing so.

I also attempted to deposit another check — either to pay my line of credit or, failing that, into my account — but they refused. The check was made out to my business partner, but he endorsed it over to me (“Pay to ________________” on the back) to satisfy a pre-existing debt to me. They would not accept this check stating “We do not accept third party checks.” The trouble is, they accepted this very type of transaction three months ago (and let me apply it directly to my line of credit) three months ago. I explained this to the manager, who simply said that they do not accept third-party checks. This was infuriating, as I explained that they do and had done exactly this three months earlier. The manager simply repeated that they do not accept third-party checks and refused to permit the deposit. Thus, my partner now has to deposit the funds to his account, wait seven days for them to clear, cut me a check which I will then deposit, and for which WAMU will no doubt require another seven days, after which I’ll again have to go in and pay a fee for the privilege of paying them. Basta!

Finally, I have been sending automatic monthly payments to a former partner who was bought out of a business. He also has a WAMU account, so this would seem to be a simple matter. I set this up over the internet. This is a feature of WAMU’s website that is actually fairly easy to use. You just enter the payee, his/her account number and address, and then fill in how much and how often you want to send payments — relatively straightforward. I just learned that WAMU has even bollocksed this up to their own advantage. Rather than simply transferring the funds from my WAMU account to his WAMU account at the appointed hour, they are physically cutting a check and mailing it to him. Huh? For what purpose? No doubt they are interested in floating these funds in the mail as long as possible so that they can hang onto the money for the maximum amount of time. They deduct the money from my account the moment they (supposedly) drop the paper check in the mail. But they don’t credit his account until the check arrives in the mail and he manages to get it to the bank. If it’s legal to do so, I bet they’re putting a seven day hold on his funds even though they’ve already sucked the money out of my account.

I hope these Greedy SOBs are driven out of business by the sub-prime crisis. They’ll deserve it. A wise man once sang: “I Hate Banks” – Mojo Nixon No truer words ever were sung. Thanks for putting your website up and letting me vent. It’s hard for me to believe that WAMU pitches itself as a customer-friendly bank. Pathetic lie.”

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