The other day when I got home, I saw a letter from my bank with what appeared to be a check inside. I ripped open the letter, and my suspicions were confirmed – there was a check for $87.50 in there. It never said what it was for, but I’m not going to complain when someone gives me 90 bucks – I’m going to take it straight to the bank.
While I did that, I asked the teller what the check could possibly be for, and he had no idea. He asked the manager and she couldnt really figure it out either, and they offered to call customer service for me and find out for sure. I told them that the origin was not that important, and just to put the money in my checking account. I had a suspicion that the funds were from a lawsuit that the bank recently settled about overdraft fees.
The manager then asked if I had overdrafts on the account at some point, and I said I had (I’ve had this account since undergrad) and she said that was probably the reason. Then she said “Well, it’s nice the bank is giving you money this time instead of the other way around”. I couldnt believe it, and I was about to be like yes, it is, except I got fucked out of this cash 6 years ago by you trying to squeeze extra fees out of me and reordering my purchases.
This was something that came out to congress in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and was also something that I had always suspected, but was unable to prove. The bank(s) reordered your transactions in their favor, so that you’d get charged more overdraft fees. Heres a quick rundown of how this worked:
You’ve got $100 in your bank account, and over the weekend, you buy some stuff. You spend 6 at happy hour friday, 45 at target saturday, 4 for a movie saturday night, and 5 for a 6 pack sunday, and 60 on home furnishing sunday as well. You’ve spent $115 total, but on tuesday when you log into your account, you’ve got a negative balance and you’ve been assessed 4 overdraft fees because the bank rearranged the chronological order of your purchases, taking the $45 and $60 purchase first, causing you the first overdraft (105 instead of 100 that you have), then the other 3 transactions, when instead you should have only had 1 overdraft charge (the $60 on sunday, because at that point you st ill had 45 left in your account).
Another one of those awesome bank tactics, that I used to blame on them (partially rightly) but could have been easier if I would have been able to control my spending then, like I can now.
Overall, I’ll take the money back, but I’d prefer not to get bent over a barrel in the first place.
readers: were you a recipient of any of these lawsuit settlements from the bank? If so, what for?