January 10, 2006

Stick em up. Nobody move. This is an overdraft fee!

Stick em' up or as robbers used to say in Detroit, Check it in. However, this “Jacker” is no armed hood with a heater (gun) stuck in your face; it’s your friendly Bank supposedly upholding its fiduciary responsibility via robbing you through overdraft charges and fees to increase profitability on the institution. Yeah...right!

Yes, I got jacked and that is why I am writing this Op-Ed. The other day I went online to review my checking balances and transactions and discovered over 200 dollars in overdraft charges. I honestly felt the same way that I did in the past when I came home and discovered my residence or property had been broken into and items stolen. I felt violated. I felt very angry and I felt the emotion of vengeance. I wanted to get even…but how and against whom?

Needless to say I immediately picked up the phone and called the 24 hour 1-800 number. I spoke with a rep who told me that since I had overdrafts on 3 other occasions, during the year, that they could not and would not excuse this one. So I went to my initiating branch the first business day of the week to speak with a manager. The manager again told me that he could not dismiss the charges due to past history of overcharges. I eventually told them that I will stand in front of their bank with a picket sign if they did not reverse those charges and I was serious. Eventually he agreed to take off 4 of the 7 overdraft charge transactions providing that I sign up for overdraft protection, which I did reluctantly.

Of course, people reading this will immediately say that I was irresponsible and that I did make the mistakes and knew the rules when I signed up to put my money in the institution. That’s not my beef. My beef is that the punishment does not fit the crime. It’s like having sped, getting caught and instead of getting a citation; I have to do prison time. I had 7 transactions (born from my use of debit cards for all my purchases) that totaled to less than 20 dollars overdrawn. Some for movie rental from McDonalds Red Boxes, were for 1 dollar each. For each of those transactions that I did not have funds to cover, I was charged 34 dollars. There is no cost justification for that, other than profiteering. It’s all electronic algorithms doing the work and it does not functionally cost any more to process if your account is overdrawn.

Ok, I hear all you conservative by the book defenders of the system dissenting at my attack of the system you love so dearly. Well, the kicker is that I have thousands of dollars in savings at the same bank. I purposely keep a small amount in checking because of fear that someone will get my card information (because I use it so much) and practice identity theft, emptying out my checking balance. I did not want overdraft protection because they could then tap into even more of my funds via my savings. Consequently, sometimes I don’t reconcile my balances in time, given that debit card transactions do not always manifest in real time (immediate). Therefore, given the thousands of dollars in my checking, how can the bank rationalize that it cost them anything? They did not have to loan me some of their money or someone else’s money, because my deposits in their bank could fully cover it….and then some.

The bank’s rationale was that I did not give them permission to take money from my Savings in the event that my checking account was overdrawn. Well, I also did not give them permission to charge me 34 dollars for each transaction in the red, but that did not stop them ( well...maybe I did when I signed up for the checking account, but thats not the point). Then they tell me that overdraft protection from my savings will cost me, not the 34 dollar per transaction without it, but 5 dollar per transaction of an overdrawn checking account. What the hell? How do they justify that cost? You mean to tell me that it cost them 5 dollars for the nanosecond it takes for the computer algorithm to branch to a different section of code where it will debit my savings and credit my checking to cover the overdraft? It absolutely does not. It’s simply a pretext to exploit customer’s mistakes into increased profits for the bank. What does that sound like to you? It sounds to me like the street thugs who charge you protection fees from their own thuggish behavior. Either you pay us protection money or some of our other thugs are going to come and rob you blind.

Of course the banks depend on customers savings deposits to boost the amount of money they can lend to other customers at a profit through fractional banking. They probably don't like those funds being tapped into from overdrawn checking accounts because they theoretically are using those deposits to earn interest income. Thus, the feel they must penalize people from making the account more transactional in nature, thus, threating their interest income. I am no dummy in regards to how all this works either.....its still robbery.

When you add all these things up, its just robbery pure and simple, given the constraint on their traditional nefarious acts of usury. The way the system works now is that profitability is linked to people’s mistakes and errors. The system has found away to increase profits by egregiously penalizing people who make mistakes. If you have a low interest credit card at 5%, then make one late payment or your credit situation changes with another creditor, they then rape you with a 300% increase in your interest rate. If you are a person with poor credit, instead of not giving you a loan because you fall into bad risk, they charge you two or three times the average rate of interest. Of course, if a person has a poor history of repayment or income to debt ratio, making their payments much higher is not going to increase the probability that they will repay it. You even have the insurance industry rationalizing charging higher premiums, based not upon accidents or claims, but credit reports. The more mistakes you made with your credit, the higher your insurance premiums. Of, course; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other ways capitalism is becoming a predatory practice, not limited to what I mentioned.

Capitalism has become like the jungle, with predators watching for signs of weakness or injury in the herds of prey to pounce on and devourer for nourishment. Profiteers hover like vultures or sharks when they smell blood waiting to pick apart and digest anyone who slips up or becomes vulnerable and in need. The profiteers then swoop down upon the prey under the auspicious of being concerned and looking out for the preys needs and interest. The prey, often time with a lack of choices or knowledge of choices and in need, becomes credulous and hence victimized.

9 Comments:

At 11:39 AM, Blogger cbradley said...

SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BEING BLACK? YOU MADE THE CHOICE TO USE THE BANK THAT YOU DID AND EVEN THO I AGREE IT IS ROBBERY, YOU AGREED TO IT WHEN YOU SIGNED UP. DO YOUR MATH AND YOU WILL BE OKAY IS THE LESSON THERE IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR ONE. YOU DID NOT -GET- JACKED, YOU -JACKED- YOURSELF WITH YOUR OWN CHOICES!! BE CLEAR. REALLY YOU ARE MAD AT YOURSELF CAUSE YOU LET THE BANK HAVE MORE OF YOUR MONEY THAN YOU WANTED TO PART WITH. I UNDERSTAND THAT PART BUT DONT GET THE WHOLE TIRADE UNDER "BLACK PERSPECTIVE" WTF? GET A LIFE, WE CANT HAVE IT ALL WAYS AND THE CREDIT DEAL IS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, DOES NOT LOOK AT RACE, ONLY AT CREDIT 'WORTHINESS' UNFORTUNATLY MANY FOLKS OF COLOR DO NOT HAVE THE PROPER FICCO SCORE TO DO WELL IN THE CREDIT ARENA. THAT CAN BE FIXED WITH A LITTLE THOUGHT, PLANNING AND EFFORT.

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Look ole ye of tunnel vision. The topics discussed on this blog are not issues that are limited to impact upon black people. Any issue that affects black people is fruit for “Black Introspection”, not just issues and topics are exclusive to black people. Furthermore, you are not qualified to be the litmus test and filter as to what topic is germane to black folks and hence to Black Introspection. You are POWERLESS in this regards.

Sure, the occasions that I left my car door unlocked and amoral characters took the liberty to steal from my car, I was made at myself for my mistake. By the same token, my overdraft was akin to leaving my door unlocked, which gave the bank the pretext to steal from me. The issue is not the mistake but the amoral reaction to the mistake by nefarious entities. The way the system is trending, it will eventually promote mistakes just so that profit can be made from it. As a matter of fact, that has always been the case already to a certain degree.

You need to go somewhere and have your tunnel vision examined before you get run down from the side.

 
At 6:03 AM, Blogger Scott said...

"your friendly Bank" are you on drugs. Fuck they wouldn't even do business in our neighboorhoods without the federal government breathing down their back.

But the fact is you need to watch your back wherever you go or due business its not just in harlem at 2:30 am but 2:30 pm downtown in a bank.

Also NEVER use debit cards.
http://www.pirg.org/consumer/banks/debit/debitcards1.htm

If you are locked out of credit cards due to poor credit you can buy pre-paid credit gift cards, or credit card backed by a deposit.

But the real solution since you are so close to the edge is get on a budget and give yourself spending cash at the beginning of the week and never over spend it.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

That’s good general advice…but I don’t have poor credit and I am not locked out of Credit Cards. I have enough money saved up to where I can give myself a greater limit than a Gold Card…..so why do I need a credit card? My point is not or was not what I need to do to avoid this. My point is that the predatory system should give no one comfort about the type of construct we live in. What this does is that it breads a dog-eat-dog mentality where everyone is looking to screw other entities rationalized by the belief that other entities are looking to screw them. Everyone (not literally) is thus looking for the slip up of another entity so that they can pounce on the mistake to gain profit. That is why this is such a litigious society.

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger Scott said...

You are correct we do not living a a NICE society. You have to watch your back and find people you can trust. Corportations are NOT people and corporations should NEVER be trusted.

Government is NOT people and should NEVER be trusted. Only by constant vigilance can these non human organisms be kept in check.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Don’t leave out PEOPLE, which is the core entity behind corporations and governments. It’s a sad commentary about the state of our society….but people kept heralding it. For me it represents a time of desperation. Entities feel that they cannot make it or be profitable while being “good” or “righteous”. Just because a woman’s pant’s split is no reason or pretext for rapping her….she was not asking for it. That is what capitalism has morphed into in this society….vultures looking for pretexts.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Kweli4Real said...

Okay, you felt robbed ... Let my share my soon to be engaged in quixotic mission: I plan to initiate a pro se class-action consumer fraud complaint against my credit card company, and detail my adventure in a blog. If nothing else I hope to embarrass the industry into doing the right thing.

My story starts about 8 years ago. I was single and, like most Americans, spent 115% of my after-tax income. I was financing my lifestyle by use of a credit card. All was going well until my house got broken into and my car broke down which wiped out my savings. I had been dipping into savings to stay ahead of my credit card due date.

Well, one day I ran to FedEx to next-day my check on the day before my statement listed as my due date. The next month, I was hit with a $25.00 late fee. "But how can this be?" I asked, "I have confirmation that my check was delivered at 10:43a.m. on the due date."

Well read the agreement carefully. The credit agreement spells out that "payment can take up to 5 days to process" and "payments received after 9:00a.m. may be processed the next business day."

If this is true, the due date is not the 15th of a given month; but as early a the 9th of the month [5 days to process mail received after 9:00a.m.]

In my view, the due date published on each and every bill represents a material misrepresentation or omission of a fact; thus fraud.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger purplermarti said...

Instead of yelling about the fees that were incurred, you should be thanking the bank for paying your checks. Think of the fees as interest on a loan. Think of the embarassment you would have suffered if the bank has returned your items back to the stores. Not only would you had to pay the money back to the store, they would have charged you a higher fee than any bank not to mention the shame you would have had when you went back to the store on s different occasion.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger abw said...

It just goes to show that conventional banks are not always much better than loan sharks,payday loans, and the general "fringe banking" industry. It is imperative that people take the effort to teach themselves financial literacy and stop overconsuming when they do. They should learn this stuff for their own benefit. Life is not always fair but life does not have to be as f-up as it too often is though.You can't always protest and whine but you can not always sit and take stuff it lying down either. Too many financial institutions always want people money to always want to rip them off or do half-butt jobs. Black folks need their own institutions and what not and people need to get their financial act together; but these financial communities rip off communities, provide shoddy services,get prosperous off the community and contribute nothing to the community-just give nothing back-particularly in the black community. People deserve better services and more respect if not for the simple fact that they support these flawed, inefficient, and wasteful institutions. It could always be worse, but much of this stuff could be better. FOLK NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILTIES FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND CHOICES period BUT THEIR ARE FEW EXCUSES,justifiable rationales FOR GETTING HOSED LIKE PEOPLE OFTEN GET. People need to raise a stink precisely because stuff is as dysfunctional as it is.

 

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