The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thoughts on Banking

I've had a very frustrating week with banks that has made me actually consider the "move your money" movement. When I first saw it, I rolled my eyes and thought, "as if." Although I do, in some ways, agree with those who blame the economic downturn partially on banks, I also think people need to look at how complex the situation really is and what a huge part of society banks are. Everyone can't just pull all of their money out of major banks and expect it to be okay. While it may be an overly simplistic metaphor, I just keep thinking of that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life," where they all rush for their money and George Bailey has to beg them all to reconsider and realize that their money is in each other's houses and that's just how it works.

If we want to fix the economic crisis, we need to focus on lasting reforms that prevent banks and other companies from taking advantage of stupid people who overspend without thinking. And realistically, we need to make it a priority to raise up a generation of children who don't expect instant gratification without thinking of the consequences. But I digress...

I cannot wholeheartedly get behind the "move your money" movement, because even if it did get large enough to make a difference, I don't believe this difference would be positive. Do we want big banks to hurt? PEOPLE work at big banks. And 99% of those people are not "big bankers," if you know what I mean. My best friend works for a big bank. Three of my family members work for big banks. If the big banks hurt, the people at the top will not hurt. They will lay off the people at the bottom, making people like my family members hurt.

In addition, my mortgage is with Bank of America. I have no control over who my mortgage is with. If you know anything about home loans, you know that even if you refinance, your loan gets sold, and you usually end up with one of the big banks servicing it. If Bank of America has to lay off employees, they will lay off employees in every area, including mortgage. Do I want customer service to suck more? Do I want to force them to export more jobs, so that I have to deal with someone on the other side of the world every time I need to have my escrow account analyzed over the phone? No... frankly, I do not. Big banks may be making some sucky decisions, but convincing the world to move their money is not the solution.

That said... I am angry nonetheless. I feel like banks did nothing but make my life difficult this week. On Tuesday, Chase refused to cash a check for a drama thing. It was over such a tiny stupid technicality too. They insist that I deposit it and then they will "release" the funds at midnight. What is the point? They will not have the funds from the other bank by then. Do you just want to keep making me come in? I am not available during business hours every day. And it is not my money- it is school money- so I didn't want it in my account. The bank manager would not budge.

For this reason, I usually cash school checks at the bank that the checks are written on, even if it means visiting several banks. Well, one of my major sources of fundraising writes their checks from Bank of the West. In the past few months, Bank of the West has started charging a $5 fee to cash checks. This is ridiculous. Even Wells Fargo hasn't stooped so low... yet. To try to avoid the $5 fee and an extra stop, I attempted to cash the check at my own bank, only to run into this stupid "must deposit" bull. It makes me so angry. I don't have all the time in the world to spend doing school banking, so I decided to just deal with the fees and attempted to just cash it at a check cashing place next to Chase, since there is no Bank of the West here in town. The check cashing place couldn't cash it, since Bank of the West now refuses to verify funds (so you have to go in there, so they get to charge you their $5 fee I am sure). The check is actually still in my wallet.

In addition, the very simple online banking payment I am trying to reverse is turning into a ridiculously complicated issue too. I made a payment to Tiana's day care. They sent the day care a check. I pulled Tiana out of day care, so they gave me the check. I went to the bank to just get the cash for it instead (since it is ALREADY out of my account- has been for weeks; that is they way online bill pay works), but they are making me do a stop payment and deposit the money in my account. Sigh. I did this on Tuesday, and because of the holiday today, the money is still not in my account and probably won't be until Monday. That's almost an entire week. This is ridiculous. I am starting to feel like they do this stuff on purpose.

I used to get free checks and free cashier checks for the $20 a year we paid for our "premium" account. Now I don't get either of these things for free. When I tried to cancel the "premium" fee for our account, I was told I cannot do so without closing my account. Geez.

I don't want to abandon big banks. I don't think it is the answer. But man... these stupid policies sure are starting to tick me off.

1 comment:

  1. Although I have a 12 yrs history with Chase (aka WaMu) you'd think I would of been excused of the monthly fee... my job pays me with cash... every week, same amount for about 2.5 yrs and weekly deposits of slightly diff amounts for the rest of the 12 yrs.... Guess what it does not matter at all. It is not through another bank that uses the money on the stock market for a day, then Chase for a day then they release it... so it does not count as a deposit.

    I opened an ING checking with NO fees... and in January I will be moving to a credit union for basic checking. I had no problems with WaMu- well maybe less then Chase. I am done.