Just when we think the nation’s big banks have abandoned those ridiculous fees, here comes an entirely new batch that’s sure to wreak havoc on your bank accounts, your nerves or both. Some make no sense and others are downright infuriating. Here’s the latest to come from those brilliant number crunchers on Wall Street and beyond. It’s all courtesy of a new study, Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project.
We start with a doozy of a fee – and a doozy of a justification for it. Have you ever pulled up to the night deposit or an ATM with the goal of depositing a check?
You carefully fill out the envelope, seal it up and then promptly feed it into the ATM or drop it into that heavy drawer. Two seconds later, you look down and realize the check is in your lap. You forgot to put it into the envelope.
Now, if you make that mistake, you could find yourself being hit with an empty envelope fee. It’s true. Apparently, the time consuming task of opening an envelope is resulting in massive losses in revenue for banks. Or maybe the time consuming brainstorming led some bank CEO to tack on this ridiculous fee.
Sometimes, we just like to be amongst other folks. With so many of us who work from home or can find themselves isolated during the day, a trip to the bank with the purpose of approaching the teller for a bit of human conversation is as important as taking care of our banking business. Your next visit with the therapist… er… bank teller could cost you $10.
Ah – this is a personal favorite. We’ve all heard of returned check fees, but have you heard of a returned mail fee? Consumers are being forced to shoulder the expense of office supplies and stamps for bank correspondence that gets returned to the bank as undeliverable.
Those fees can hover near the $10 mark, too. We’re not entirely sure what happens when it’s the bank’s fault for not getting your address right. Maybe a brainstorming session is in order to figure that out.
How about those fees and charges that are tacked on when you redeem your rewards points from your credit card? Those are fair game, too. Some are even now charging annual programming fees.
Not sure what that is? Neither are we. We were unable to get a clear definition on exactly those fees are for.
Early account closure fees are gaining in popularity, as well. This might have something to do with the Occupy Movement and Bank Transfer Day that resulted in millions of consumers abandoning their big banks in lieu of those friendlier local or community banks…
Banks began imposing these fees as an obstacle, after people began moving their accounts last year, Martindale says.
So why now?
Bottom line – these fees are courtesy of stricter compliance laws that prevent banks from becoming overly aggressive with their respective consumers. They have to find different ways to make up for those lost revenues and new senseless bank fees appear to be their tool of choice.
Not only that, but these types of fees, unlike NSF and credit card late payment fees, aren’t regulated by government agencies such as FTC. That makes it easier for the banks to slip those fee structures in with no oversight.
What can you do?
Remaining vigilant is crucial. Most of us balance our checkbooks throughout the month and provided there aren’t any big differences in our balances and what our monthly statements say, we usually toss those statements into our wicker basket that goes to the accountant once a year. The thing is, you could be paying fees you’re not even aware of.
If you do come across one of those suspicious fees, contact your bank. There’s a good chance they’ll remove it, but that depends on your bank and its policies. Still, it’s worth a shot. You’re already several dollars anyway, might as well try to recoup those fees.
If you can’t seem to make any headway with your bank, it may be time to rethink your financial institution. Consider your credit union or consider changing banks.
That might be the only way to get out from under those pesky and seemingly endless list of fees. One tip: double check before you open a new account to ensure that bank’s fee structures are reasonable.
Remember, checking accounts are not money makers for banks, but at least the smaller bands and credit unions have lower overhead. They often pass those savings on to their consumers.
Have you noticed any fees tacked onto to your credit card statement or your banking documents? How did you handle it and how was it resolved? Share your story with us and our readers.