This story starts in April 09 when the bank I had been with for 6 years, New Frontier Bank, collapsed. It was a sad good bye because I'd always been very happy with the small town service we received from them. But it was just the way the cookie crumbled so we had to move on.
Hubby and I had checked out a few banks in our little town of Windsor CO, but hadn't settled on one yet. Then we found ourselves with a deadline upon us. It was a Saturday and the very last day we had to get our money moved to a new account and set up for my husbands direct deposit check. We went to 3 banks that morning and at around noon we found ourselves sitting in the lobby of Chase with Jeff.
The only thing that had been holding us back was my merchant account for my online stores, www.djbeads.com and www.flutterby-jewelry.com . Jeff the schister was busy promising me the moon. He told me that he could get my monthly statement fee waved, "Oh and look at all these nice low rates!". When I asked him to put these things in writing he explained to me that 'his guy' Eric at Payment Tech was not currently returning his calls or emails, but not to worry, he could get these things done for me. That little voice inside my head was telling me, wait and get all this in writing first..... but alas we were pressed for time and therefore had to just sign on the dotted line and hope for the best. Besides, a banker wouldn't lie to me would he?
Monday morning the mysterious man from Payment Tech finally calls me back, Eric. Not only does he inform me that all those nifty rates that Jeff promised are not possible, but the monthly statement fee that Jeff promised he could get waived... well that's actually double what I was paying at New Frontier Bank. Eric assures me that there is nothing they can do about the monthly statement fee, however he does manage to lower it to at least what I was paying at New Frontier. Which leads one to wonder, if he can make that happen then why couldn't he uphold Jeff's promise?
As a small business person I realize that I just have to grin and bare it. At least all the accounts are now moved and the merchant account is set up so I can get back to biz as usual.
Then the first statement comes in. Holy Crap! What a nightmare this thing is to reconcile!! The way I've always seen merchant account statements is that you have your full deposit, say you had an order for $33, you would actually see a $33 deposit in your account. And then you would see another entry for the processing fees. Not with good ole Chase and Payment Tech! Sometimes they take the fee's out of the $33 so you'll see a deposit of $28.90. Or sometimes you'll see they took some of the fee's out of your $33 so there is a deposit of $28.90 and then an additional $.20 - $.40 withdraw for more fee's. If it's a rewards card, well then those are different fee's. If it's a Visa gift card, that's a whole other set of fee's. And if it's the 5th Tuesday or a full moon, then those are another set of fees. Of course, you as the merchant have no idea what kind of card your customer is using so it really is a crap shoot as to what amount is going to show up in your account. And this of course is if you only have one charge for the day. Imagine now you have 4-5 or more credit card transactions for the day and Chase is taking their little cut out of all of them! I'm sure you can picture now that there is NO WAY for you to tell if they are taking out more than their share or not. And the time! Oh Lord, the Time! With New Frontier I had my bank account reconciled to the penny within a half hour at the end of each month. With Chase, this last month it was off by $57 and it took me 3 hours at which point I decided I'd just eat the $57 rather than spend one more minute trying to figure out their hieroglyphics.
Another neat practice of Chase bank is their debit card system. You see no matter how much money you do or don't have in your checking account, Chase will let the charge go through. Of course if you don't have enough to cover the charge they are more than happy to ding you with an NSF fee. This means that if someone gets a hold of your debit card number they can go and buy any ole thing their heart desires with it and Chase will let all those charges go through. If for some reason you want a certain charge to be declined because you no longer wish to use that service or want the company to contact you for a different card number, well that's simply not possible with Chase bank. All charges go through no questions asked. When I brought this up to my local Chase banker she had the nerve to say to me, (with a straight face), that this practice is really for my benefit. "If I was on my way to the bank to make a deposit and wanted to stop at McDonalds first I could do so even though there was no money in my account". I had to smile back at her and tell her, "No, this is not for my benefit this is a way for Chase bank to make money off of me. Since money was invented the rules have always been, first you have the money to spend, then you can spend it.'
So now we come up to this weeks fiasco. My employee held onto 6 payroll checks and deposited them all at once this week. Now I had been accounting for them in my software program and thought I had enough in there to cover all 6 of them. But dern it if some of those unknown credit card fee's didn't come through that are so hard to predict and the very last check bounced by a matter of change. This started the snowball effect. That check bounced, then a debit card charge went through, that's another fee. So for these 2 items Chase bank charged me $75 in NSF fees!!! Which for the life of me I couldn't figure out how they arrived at that number. However in a scramble I threw money at that account to cover everything along with a small cushion. I then called Chase to beg for mercy that maybe we could do something about this huge fee. I spoke with a woman named Mel at the Windsor CO branch. She informed me that Chase would only allow 2 refunds of NSF fee's per year and proceeded to refund $50 of it. I was okay with that because after all, I am human and I didn't have enough in there to cover that one check. I'm also big enough to admit when I make a mistake and pay for my mistakes.
Today I look at my account to discover that good ole Chase Bank has dinged me for an additional $96 in NSF fee's!!!!! Yesterday when I looked at my account there was over $100 in there, so I felt comfortable placing a $12 charge on my Chase debit card. So how did this $96 NSF fee come to be? Well I wanted to know too. So I printed up my account and took a drive to my local Windsor CO Chase Bank branch at lunch today.
The first thing I asked the elderly banker to explain to me was why I was charged $75, essentially 3 NSF fee's for what appeared to be 2 transactions. He came back with the answer that the first was for the check... ok I'm fine with that. The second was for the following debit card charge... not so okay with that, but alright. The third was for a .40 merchant services fee that doesn't even show up on my account!!! Yeah, not so okay with that one. Even at this moment that .40 does not show up on my account as a debit. So with that additional $75 out of my account it then caused the account to go further into the red for that day. And on that day more merchant services fee's came through, 3 to be exact. One for $1.32, one for $.65 and another for $.42. As the old man explained to me that Chase banks policy is that every time you have an NSF fee the cost of them goes up, so these fee's are no longer $25 but $32 and I had 3 of them, thus the $96.
Before I left for the bank I had decided to try this the sweet way, after all you catch more flys with syrup than vinegar right? So I sat back and began to plead explaining that I am obviously very pregnant, we're expecting twins. I'm a very small business that can't handle a hit like this. The old man sat there with stone face and tells me that there is not one thing he can do to take care of even part of the fee's let alone the entire $96. I tell him someone can do something about it, he replies to me that there isn't anyone, not one person in the entire Chase bank establishment able to do anything about my $96 in fees.
I don't know why he wanted to poke the bear, but he did and things went ugly. So I informed him that I had over 1,000 people on Facebook, a bunch of followers on twitter as well as over 5,000 customers that get my newsletter and I happen to have a very big mouth. I'd be more than happy to spread the word about Chase bank and their rape of the little guy. Of course the old man just smiled at me as if to say, 'Oh silly little person, there is nothing you can do to bring down this big company'.
Well maybe not, maybe I am just a little person in the grand scheme of things. However I do have the power of free speech as outlined in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights allows me to speak my mind and share what this company has done to me and the money they have STOLEN from me.
I'm sure if I had $150,000 in their bank I would've been treated differently. It's even possible if it had been my husband in there instead of the crazy pregnant lady, the out come would've been different? I can't say that for fact, but I do know the way of the world.
However, what Chase bank does not realize is that all of us little people, with our little bank accounts with us, well we add up to a lot more $ than they think. If all of us little people revolt and take our money to say local banks, well perhaps they won't be as big in the britches after all.
So that's what I've done. I went back to a locally owned bank today, Home State Bank. Where the tellers had nothing but smiles as I walked in. The actual Vice President sat down with me to discuss accounts because everyone else had gone to lunch and she was the only one there. They took a general interest in me, my business, and our upcoming twins. Their merchant services are processed locally in good ole Colorado, so I don't have to call Tibet to get an answer. Local is the way to go my friends!
Lastly I would like to say that I don't want to come across as an 'Oh poor me and this is all someone Else's fault'. I fully admit that the very first item that started all this was my fault. It was my fault that the check was short. And with it being my fault I realize that there are penalties when you make a mistake, (even if it is your first mistake). However is it fair that I should have to pay Chase Bank $121 for that one mistake? I'm willing to pay the $25 for it, but at what point are they just charging and charging in order to keep you in the hole and chained to them? I happen to be a lucky one that I have a savings that I can tap into to cover this so that hopefully (God willing), there won't be anymore NSF fee's tomorrow. But you never know do you with this bank? There are a lot of people out there that don't have the luxury of a savings account, especially in this economy.
So before you go to open up that new account, please think twice about who the people you are dealing with really are. Are they a local company that is going to keep your money in your own state or even your own country? Or are they a greedy bunch of Wall Street thieves using you're hard earned money to buy their next condo or yacht? Seems like the last couple of days all the money I've made has gone into the greedy Wall Street thieves from Chase Bank pockets. If I wanted to work for Chase Bank I'd put on a suit and go sit in one of their cubes.