Banks Suck!

A Rant About the People Who Hold Our Money Hostage

I have been banking for many years. I even used to work at a bank. This is why I think banks suck: They forgot whose money it is! They did! Let me tell you my story...

My first bank account was with some [Something]America Attached to it. I was 8 years old, and had gotten a $100 check from my grandmother. Man, I was 8, had a $100, it was he 70's, and I was cool. I got a passbook savings, and planned to save money there. But the lady there was mean. First, to make life difficult, I did not have Social Security number until I was 15. I was born overseas, and things were left behind, and my father said I was never to become a government number. Well, the late 1970's, the computer revolution was gaining ground, and you had to have a number of some kind for tracking purposes. I will give this bank some credit (ha ha) in the fact they hated I had no SS#, and I had to fill out a form and my passbook did not have my SS#. But when I became a teen, and had accumulated a fair bit of money, my bank was bought out but Washington Lee FSB, which in turn was bought out by Prudential[Something]. They didn't like the fact I had no SS# either. In fact, until the IRS made it a law that you kid had to have an SS# if you want a tax break, I doubt my father would have ever let me get one. The final insult was that I was told that $350 was not enough to have a passbook savings, and they closed the account. Not that they told me or anything. Imagine my shock when I tried to deposit some baby-sitting money, to be told my passbook was no longer valid! I lost $350! Which nowadays is not much, but it was all my money, then! Oh, they didn't like me one bit and I had to get my parents to fight to give it back. They took about $100 of "nuisance fees", which made us even angrier, and then they turned around and got bought out by Riggs, which handles the most important money in the world: rich people's. I never got that $100 back, either.

A year later, my mother opened a joint checking account with me. I had a SS# by this point, and a real job where this FICA guy stole money from my paycheck every two weeks. My account started to grow. I even got interest, and nary a hassle. When my mother died, the account was changed to solely my name, and it was my account for the next four years.

Then I started to work for Dominion Federal Savings and Loan Bank (not to be confused with Dominion Bank). They required all my transactions be changed to their bank for security reasons which made sense. I closed my account at Providence Savings, and opened at DFSLB. Then the worst job I ever had in my life started. I had a pregnant boss who didn't know who the father was, but the boyfriend she lived with knew it wasn't his, and so she hated men, and backed that up with unstable hormones common to pregnancy. She watch patronizing, mean, back-stabbing, gossipy, and a real, real bitch! But she wasn't the only thing wrong there. There were "under the table" dealings, "hidden files not to be shown to the auditors", and computers that went down more than a two dollar whore. It seemed that people of certain races also did not get the same interest rate of other races, so to speak. I was appalled, and the worst sign I got was my first day where a customer asked me if this was a training branch, since there was never the same tellers there from month to month. Oh, what a bad place. FDIC rules were merely suggestions in this horrible place. And training? Imagine being taught Algebra for the first time, condensed into two weeks, with outdated textbooks, and taught out of sequence. Brilliant, college graduates failed that course.

Two months into this hell one of our owners ran off with a lot of the company's money to "an undisclosed South American Country". Man, Talk about lack of confidence in your customers! I jumped off ship there as soon as I could, with a bizarre and interesting job working at Chesapeake Knife and Tool. When you quit a bank, the FBI does a follow up report to which I exposed everything. Their response? "Yeah, we've had a lot of comments about that branch..." Great.

That bank ironically changed it's name to "Trustbank," but it still didn't do well. I withdrew my money from there to go to Crestar after mysterious ATM Fees started popping up on my statement, one that was $187.56. When I pointed this out to the branch manager, she said it was an ATM withdrawal, but since I had worked there, I knew the codes, and said, "Aha! No it isn't, your machine says it's a service charge, see, it's a code 111..." After a lot of arguing, I got some of my money back, but my account got "flagged" for some reason, and they refused to cash my checks even though I had money to cover it! I just withdrew my money one day after I opened up a Crestar Account.

Did that end my woes? Au contraries, my friend, they just began. After a few years with Crestar, our checkbook was stolen. It was stolen on a Sunday evening, so we reported it Monday morning. "Fine," they said, all smiles and grins, "we'll just close the account, and put your money into your savings." Agreed. Then the checks started rolling in. $100, $200, even $600 checks that were written to Giant, Safeway, People's Drug, and check-cashing places. As the stolen checks started coming in, you could see the trail that this person was making: Reston, Herndon, DC, Silver Spring, Columbia, Baltimore, and the last ones were in small truck-stop towns in Philadelphia. Did Crestar report them as stolen? Oh, no... they sent them back as "account closed." So suddenly, all these places started calling us for the money. We said the checkbook was stolen, but they said the bank said otherwise. Many calls were made. Some companies took us to court for check fraud. Luckily, the thief was so bold that he (and a she, we found out later) didn't even try to fake our signatures, so not only didn't these places take ID, they didn't even check to see if the signatures matched the names on the check! We won most cases on face value, but our names and SS#'s were entered into some mega-check database, and now, to this day, 5 years later, no one will accept our checks! It took us three years just to open up another checking account! And, get this, Crestar, like most banks, went through management like tissue paper, and so we'd have to explain all over again to all these head office muckety-mucks which changed weekly, and each time, their foreign accents got thicker and thicker. They screwed up so much, that when we finally demanded a letter to state we didn't owe them money and that we hadn't bounced checks, it took us one year and seven department heads to get it. And since that time, they "recycled" our old account number with that of a major car loan. So when we called back, they would tell us, "you are paying on your car loan, you still have an account with us for a Lexus you bought last year!" What morons!

So far, we are settling with First Virginia Bank. They have a made quite a few errors, but since our previous lessons taught us to document everything to death, we have been able to catch every one and make them fix it. Luckily, they are not "fully automated," and so their tellers tend to be a bit smarter, and don't stare stupidly at a dumb terminal going, "Duh... my screen is blue... I have to get my manager to make it green again... dhoy...."

Think I'm bitter? Is it that obvious? Isn't that obvious? I swear, these moguls are cretins to look out for. Look at how they are gouging you:

ATM Fees
A serious transaction fee of 25 cents I can understand. But $3.00? ATMs save banks money. They don't have to hire a teller (which get paid squat as it is!), and they pay less rent on an ATM than on a bank property. That money is just gravy to them. Now that ATM's are mass-produced, more secure, and the technology is easier than ever, ATM's cost an average of 80% less to maintain than they did just ten years ago! The fees should have gone down not up! This also applies to "online banking," which is even cheaper! Man, you don't even have to have a building at all, just some guy in a computer room making sure the servers stay online. One salary, almost no rent, and you save soooo much! But I guess the old and fat corporate bosses want us to pay dearly for using our "biddily-boop" magic devices to get into their system.
"Low Balance" fees
You've seen the signs, they say, "Free Checking Accounts with minimum average balance of $5000." Minimum average balance of five grand? Hell, if I had five grand, I wouldn't need free checking. Oh, there's just a "nominal" charge of $8-12/month otherwise. Hey, maybe you forgot in economics class, but banks make money off of your money while the loan it out to others! They get it back in interest fees at 8-15%! Credit cards reap even more profits. And you want to bilk some poor old lady with "only" $2000 of her life savings in your bank? You suck!
Megabank Conglomerates
Before, it used to be if you hated a business, you could always go to the competition. Hah! Not anymore! Your mom and pop bank that used to cash checks because they knew you has been bought out! Yes, bought out by Gigantor Cash-conglomo Corp, which insists on 50 forms of ID just to see if you have any money left from their 20 or so nuisance fees that suck your saving away like swamp leaches. And they say it's for your protection. Yeah, they're right, because they pay those undereducated college brats minimum wage to be a warm body that can repeat, "Can I help the next one in line, please?" For $5.25/hr, would you care about someone's account, especially if your job means about as much to you as your last packet of disposable razors? "I'm leaving your company!" says Joe consumer, but wait, there is no competition! Gigantor bought them out, too, and jacked up those ATM fees while they were at it, sobbing alligator tears that they can't support themselves without raising rates. Yeah, I bet all that profit hugging and embezzlement puts you too close to the red for your own comfort, doesn't it?
What can we do? Squat. Banks, like tobacco and oil companies, have their hands so deep into politician's pockets, not to mention everyone else's, that it is about as easy to pluck an angry octopus from a fishing net using oven mitts and a wooden cooking spoon. We can't keep money in our mattresses or in a safe in cellar, because many places won't accept cash anymore (how convenient, a "cashless" society! There's another box of twinkies for the fat mouth of Mr. Conglomo!) and then there's your precious "credit rating", another Achilles Heel for Joe Citizen.
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