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Citibank :: Overdraft Protection Fees Bite


The other day I got smacked with an overdraft protection fee. OD fees piss me off.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

We try to be responsible with our accounts, we try to be trustworthy, and when one slip-up occurs, when we spend a few dollars we don’t have in checking, we get smacked with an overdraft protection fee. It’s shitty. It’s not protection. And I can’t stand it.

In my view, these preposterous fees are just another way for banks to make us indentured servants, for life. Think of all the debt we try to pay off, debt that never seems to go away because of accruing interest.

We only want to see our principal balance decrease at a rate similar to our payments, and instead we see it practically unchanged, from one month to the next.

This is especially true for mortgages, which the banks literally bank on.

Now I’m not one who claims to understand the mysteries of our economy [despite my BA in economics], but I can tell you that banks, as they stand, are the problem.

Several inveterate mortgage brokers have told me the same thing: back when the housing market was a bull, back when people were buying houses and suddenly found themselves living on a gold mine, anyone who wanted a mortgage could obtain one. Anyone.

If they got paid peanut shells, if they already carried a burdensome car payment, if they had a shameful loan-to-savings ratio,


That’s the chorus for this post: LEND THEM THE MONEY.

If they had a pulse, LEND THEM THE MONEY.

If you stuck a mirror underneath their nose and it fogged up, LEND THEM THE MONEY.

Back then, banks didn’t care if it was feasible for potential homebuyers to be saddled with a hefty mortgage, and look where it got us.

That’s because banks are greed. It’s as simple as that.

Banks are greed, and while we think they’re doing us a favor when they say, LEND THEM THE MONEY, they are really screwing us in so many ways and from so many angles that all we can do is swallow, take it, and try to move on with our lives.

But these overdraft protection fees are where I draw the line. Every time I see one show up in my checking account, I bitch loud and clear until I get to speak with the bank employee who has the authority to refund my OD fee. It’s ten dollars I’d like to have back. Ten dollars I can use to feed myself, pay for the roof over my head – not ten dollars to hand over to my greedy-as-shit Citibank for doing absolutely nothing.

I understand that some banks are even worse. Some banks charge three to four times that amount for the smallest of overdrafts.

But we, we the people, are fed up. It’s true. We, we the people, have spoken, and someone big enough on the other end is finally listening and willing to change the status quo.

That’s right, some banks are gradually showing some humanity, some, but once a few start, the others will either follow or perish.

Beginning this summer, Bank of America is making a point to assure all its customers that the next time they charge their debit card for money they don’t have – an honest mistake, most of the time – the purchase will simply be declined.

No more unexpected OD fees. Just, Your card’s been declined.

How easy, how practical, how human, a solution is that?

You’re probably wondering why banks didn’t do this earlier, why did they ever start lending us money we didn’t have in the first place?

Well, here’s your answer, straight from a recent NY Times article:

Last year alone, banks generated about 20 billion from overdraft fees on debit purchases and A.T.M. transactions, and 12 billion more by covering checks and recurring bills, according to Moebs Services, an economic research firm.

LEND THEM THE MONEY. Banks, those greedy bastards.

Listen to this comment from Gil Brown out of San Diego, from the same article:

I’m a senior citizen, living on social security. One time, when I was out of town, [Bank of America] allowed me to inadvertently continue to use my ATM card over 5 days without having any money in my account. They then proceeded to charge me $345 in over drafts. I would estimate that in a 4 year period of time I have paid over $2,000 in fees and penalties.

If they have a pulse, LEND THEM THE MONEY.

If you stick a mirror underneath their nose and it fogs up, LEND THEM THE MONEY.

If they keep on spending money they don’t have,


Starting this summer, it won’t be so easy to steal $345 from all the Gils of this world. Hmm, I wonder what usurious ways the banks will come up with next?

UPDATE: NPR adds more insight to my tirade in their article, How Eliminating Overdraft Fees Could Cost You.

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March 11, 2010 7:44 pm

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