I started college this year. At the beginning of the fall semester, I set up my first checking account evar omg with Commerce Bank. There was a branch on-campus in the student center, one off-campus only a few blocks away from the school (I live in the dorms there), and one only a few blocks away from my parents' house. Not only that, but they were very student-friendly. I would say the majority of students at my school bank with Commerce. They seemed perfect for me.
I set up a checking account with overdraft protection. I don't know if this is how it works at other banks, but their overdraft protection was set up so that along with my checking account, I was issued a credit card, and every time I overdrew my checking account it would simply pay off the balance with my credit card, in $50 increments. Sounds great.
When I set up the account, I initially put around $2000 in the account, because I had just gotten my student loan refund, so I didn't have any problems for awhile. However, being jobless, I did eventually run out of money. I had been keeping track of my balance, and I was at about $150 when my mom needed to borrow a little over $100 from me. So after that, I avoided using my card, for fear I would overdraw it. Then a few days later I get a letter from my bank, saying I'm overdrawn and they're charging me a $25 fee. Whaaaaat?
I called the customer service line, and apparently a couple of charges from me eating out had gone through several days later than when I had withdrawn the money. Okay, makes sense, I didn't realize debit transactions took days to process but okay. But what about the $25 fee? Oh, apparently they forgot to link my credit card to my checking account. Well, uh, hey, everyone makes mistakes. The phone rep refunded me the $25 fee AND was able to link my card to my checking account for me. I thanked her and went on my way happily.
So, I'm out of money, but getting another student loan refund fairly soon, which should be bigger because I'm moving out of the dorms, so I start making a few purchases with my credit card. A couple of badly needed clothing items, some Christmas presents for people, etc. I don't really like to sign for things -- I prefer to use PINs when I can, so I had been putting in my credit card's PIN in some places instead of signing. They went through okay, so everything was cool... until a couple of days later when I got another letter saying I was overdrawn. This time it took the balance from my credit card and didn't charge me extra, but still, wtf? I hadn't used my debit card in weeks.
So I call another phone rep, and this one tells me that apparently the way the overdraft protection is set up, my credit card works as a credit card when I sign for it, but works as a debit card taking the money from my checking account whenever I use the PIN. Well, that wasn't in any of the paperwork I saw, but okay. Getting a little peeved at the bank this time, but now I know, and hopefully there will be no more problems. Right?
Since I hadn't touched my checking account in months, I had stopped checking the balance regularly. That's why it surprised the hell out of me to get a letter saying that, because my checking account had had a negative balance of $2.xx for 28 days, they were closing my checking account. Between the Christmas mail rush and not living at home (where all my bank stuff gets delivered), I didn't get the letter, dated 12/12/05, until 12/15. The letter said if I did not deposit the remaining balance of $2.xx into my account by 12/19, it would be sent to a collections agency.
This is turning into a college student's worst nightmare. The LAST thing I wanted was some collections agency ruining my credit. Now fairly livid, I jump in my car and fly down the highway to make it to the branch by my school (the one I go to most often). (This isn't as bad as it sounds, I live in the same town as my college and it's just a half hour drive or so on the city streets, but it was 5:30 and they closed at 6, so I didn't want to take chances.) I walk in and head for the customer service desk... and start crying. x_x I ask him what the hell is going on (in more polite terms), and he gives me ANOTHER important detail about the overdraft protection that it might have been nice to know from the beginning. Apparently that $2.xx charge had gone through when I was using my credit card's PIN, but after the overdraft had already kicked in for the rest of my purchases, and apparently the overdraft protection only kicks in if you're overdrawn by $5 or more. He told me if I just deposited more than the $2-something I owed, the account would stay open. That sounded kind of fishy to me, really, but he swore that's all I needed to do. Luckily I had just sold my textbooks for that semester, so I had some cash, and I deposited $50.
After getting that sorted out, I politely make it clear that I'm a little disappointed with their service at the moment. Basically, I'm wondering wtf else is going to go wrong at this point. I try to be mature about it, though I think the maturity was dampened a bit by the fact that minutes prevously I had been crying and freaking out. As compensation he offers a $10 Target giftcard, and being the poor college student, of course I take it. There aren't really any Targets near me, but I'm sure I'll eventually use it. As it happens, I need to go to the post office a few days later to mail some Christmas presents, and the post office is right next to Target. I go to Target and pick up a couple of cheap things I need, adding up to just under $10. I give the card to the cashier, and after processing it she says she still needs $4.xx. ...Luckily I still have some textbook-refund money on me, so I pay it, but geez, they managed to screw up compensating me. (A $5 giftcard would've been fine, but not when I had been led to believe it was worth $10. On the upside, if you scratched it, it smelled like bananas.)
Fast-forward a week or so, and I get a credit card statement in the mail, saying I need to mail in a minimum payment of $15 by 1/1/2006. No problem, I think. I'll just make a payment of $45 or so from the $50 I deposited. I try to make payments at various intervals, and every time it says the system cannot process my request. I blow it off as their system being messed up or something, maybe people freaking out over Christmas stuff was tying up their system. Towards the end of December, though, I get concerned. I call another phone rep, and he's just as confused as I am -- it should be working. He says he can make a payment for me on the phone, which normally costs extra but since the system is giving me problems, he'll waive the extra fees. I don't have the information he needs (my routing number -- I'm on winter break and I left my checkbook at school), though, so he says he'll call my branch and get it, and he'll call me back.
A few minutes later, he calls back, and says he knows why it wasn't working. Surprise surprise, even though Customer Service Guy at my bank promised that depositing money would keep my account open, it closed. The phone rep said that he talked to my branch, and the customer service person at my branch remembered my case and was going to get it sorted out so that my account was open, and that he would make the payment for me himself. The phone rep told me that he would watch my account and if my bank messed up again, he would remove any late-payment charges and keep it from hurting my credit. He said he would have to wait until January 8th (there's apparently a seven-day grace period between the payment due date and when it's actually considered overdue), but once that date passed he would get back to me if nothing had been done. He also gave me his name and employee number in case I needed anything else.
I'm still waiting to see if my branch is going to make that stupid payment. x_x
I'm trying to decide if I should write to corporate about all this. I mentioned that to my mom, and her response was "You think you get bad service now, just wait to see how they treat you after you write a letter." (Since tone is hard to communicate over the internet, she was implying that my service would get worse if I wrote a letter.) I'm thinking I might just switch banks as soon as I get this card paid off, but at the same time I still want to write a letter -- both to tell them how badly my branch is messing up and to praise the phone reps for being awesome. If you read all that you're probably more patient than most, but if anybody has any advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I know some of this stuff is probably really obvious to most people, but this is my first time with a checking account, so... well, hopefully I'm not being a huge EB or anything.