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June 19, 2006

Hi, and you are...?

After taking those two weeks off from life (yeah, right!) I'm back again.

I swear I meant to post, I just, um...well...(mumbled excuse, mumbled excuse). The truth is, it's really taken a back seat to life. But I do have a fun story for everyone about my banking adventures this past weekend.

I've mentioned before that Frinklin's parents have been extremely generous in fulfilling his late grandmother's wishes regarding her will. This Friday we received the inheritance checks and deposited one check immediately via ATM, fully aware that the bank would likely place a hold on the funds for several days. That's how banks work--they choose not to take advantage of the instant withdrawl check technology that is out there to make sure your funds are available to YOU. Oh no, the bank takes the money, hold it for a few days to collect any available interest, then forwards it onto you when they are ready. Just because it's your money doesn't mean you should have instant access to it, OK? Let's not get crazy.

Lets jump ahead to the next day, Saturday. I head off to the bank with Frinklin to deposit the second check of $5,000. Because we want the funds available sooner and want $800 in cash for shopping that day we go into the bank, something I haven't done in years. Initially, all systems appear go, when suddenly the teller calls over a manager to view the transaction. The manager fiddles with the computer for a good 5 minutes before turning to me and stating that the bank cannot make the funds available today and I cannot receive any portion of the check as cash. When I ask why, I am told that my account shows that there is "significant risk" to the bank as they are unable to verify funds.

I tried very hard to remain calm. Really, I did. Upon hearing their lame-ass excuse, I request that they call Washington Mutual to verify funds. I work in retail. We do this pretty regularly. It's not difficult. It is dawn ing on me that my bank could give a rat's ass what type of service I receive. A call is placed and ten minutes later I am informed that they cannot verify the funds via phone as WaMu requires that the check writer be contacted by phone to OK the fund verification. What? I'm not asking for an account balance--just verifying that the check is good.

A little further background the history between my bank, Wells Fargo, and I. I've had my checking account since 1994--that's 12 years. I've had my share of overdrawn issues and a couple bounced checks in my late teens and early twenties, but have direct deposited several thousand dollars into that account each month for years. Over twelve years we're talking a lot of money. I haven't bounced a check in over 8 years. I haven't had a late payment on my credit card ever. They just issued me a significant chunk of credit larger than the $800 I wanted in cash. And they're telling me that I am a "significant risk?" Bullshit. And I told them that. In fact, yelled it as I stormed out.

One trip to Washington Mutual to receive a cashier's check in the exact same dollar amount as the original check, and we are back at WF to attempt to re-deposit the check. No problem. Why, as a loyal customer of WF am I required to do the leg work when a simple phone call or computer verification system could do the same thing in seconds? WTF? I'm getting screwed.

So--I'm looking for some advice. Are credit unions better? Is the fact that they are non-profit make them any more service oriented as opposed to dollar focused? Do they play the same money games that banks do?


Posted by Ensie at June 19, 2006 07:04 PM

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I've used a credit union and found it a little better than a bank. Service wasn't terribly different but interest rates (on savings, CDs, etc.) were higher and the features were better. The hours can be less convenient at a credit union and you'll want to find out about their foreign ATM fees or ATM locations.

Anything is better than Wells Fargo ;)

Posted by: eden at June 20, 2006 05:31 AM

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