Perpendiculous Programming, Personal Finance, and Personal musings

2008.05.15

Flawless Victory

Filed under: Personal Finance — cwright @ 8:43 pm

For those that know me well, you’ll know that I am actually a huge finance nerd. I talk the talk, I have strong opinions, and I tell people what to do a lot. In some ways, I would like to think that I’m some kind of Financial Badass, even though I don’t make all that much money. (yes, chris just said that 😉 )

This week, however, I got to flex those badass muscles, and put my money where my mouth is. Or, actually, put my mouth where my money is. Read On.

Last week, I got a number of checks. In total, it was around $1400. Because of work schedules, I wasn’t able to deposit them until Saturday, and for whatever reason, money doesn’t flow on saturdays. So the checks sat there until Monday, when they cleared.

Meanwhile, I had a number of small withdraws going through this week. Unfortunately, many went through on Monday, and the bank decided to charge me a dreaded Overdraft Fee. This, of course, _almost_ drove me to multiple overdrafts, but I was quick enough to stop the other transfers to keep that from getting out of hand.

To co-workers and friends in this situation, my advice would be “Call your bank, and tell them to waive the fee!” (Seriously — ask reed what I yell at him about regarding his credit card stuff!). But since I was in my position, I had to boss me around instead. It was kind of fun.

So, I called up 5/3rd, and the call went something like this:

“For Instructions in English, press 1!”
“¡para instrucciones en español, oprima el número dos!” (yes, they said “¡” at the beginning)
me: *presses 1*

“For information on Checking Accounts, CDs, or IRAs, press 1!”
“For information on …”
me: *presses 0* (holy crap, he’s going in for the kill!)

“Please wait while your call is transfered. You call may be recorded because we like listening to funny conversations — er.. I mean, for quality purposes. Don’t you like this music?”

*music plays softly for a couple minutes*

“Hello, my name is Jeff, thank you for calling 5/3, may I have your name please?”
me: “Christopher Wright”
“Ok Mr. Wright, may I have your account number and social security number please?”
me: “Sure, it’s **********. do you need the last 4 of my social, or the whole thing?”
“Actually I just need your account number. Is this your account, or is it linked with someone else?”
(crap — I linked mine before I left for my mission… is it still linked?)
me: “I don’t think so”
“I’ll need a definite yes or no, sir”
me: “I don’t think it is, but you can ask other questions if you’d like”
“Ok, when was the last deposit?”
me: “Monday, the 12th”
“For about how much?”
me: “About 1450, 1460ish”
“How was that deposit made?”
me: “By a bunch of checks, a $3 one, a $61 one, and a big 1300ish one”
“Ok, thanks for confirming that. How can I help you today?”
me: “Well, it looks like I got this overdraft charge on Monday, but it shows that the checks posted on that date too. What can we do about that?”
“Let me see.. Yep, looks like you went into overdraft by $33.01, so we charged you $33 for going into overdraft.”
me: “I noticed that. The checks cleared that day though, so doesn’t that count for something?”
“On the first day, only $100 are available until they cleared. You went over by $33.01”

(At this point, An ordinary human would say “OK” and give up. But remember: I’m in Badass mode, and banks pay an average of $350 to get new accounts, so they want to keep you around, even if they treat you like crap and take your money like this sometimes)

me: “Yep, I understand that. So, what can we do about it?”
“Well, sir, I am able to reverse that fee, but you have to understand that we cannot do that again for you. Please be sure to keep your balances in mind when you’re making transactions, to keep it out of overdraft. Can you do that?”
me: “Yes, I certainly can.”
“Ok, I’ve reversed that fee for you. Is there anything else I can do for you today, Mr. Wright?”
me: “One thing — is my account linked to anyone else?” — while I’m here, I figured I’d get the right answer 🙂
“No, it’s not linked to anyone else. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
me: “Nope, thanks for your help!”

Overdraft Reversal

And that’s it. A 5 minute phone call, $33 saved. “Booyah, Grandma!” I didn’t even say “waive” or anything, he simply knew what I meant when I asked “What can we do about that?” — next time I’ll have to try and be more bold (of course, next time shouldn’t ever happen….)

Key points:

  • Ask Nicely. No one likes to help jerks.
  • Be firm, and have a goal in mind. Don’t accept their excuses — like insurance companies, it’s their job to turn you down.
  • As Ramit Sethi says: “Despite what you learned in sex ed, “No” does not mean “No” when it comes from a bank.”

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