This afternoon I went to the bank to inquire about some bizarre overdraft fees. Like 90% of the population, I monitor my account online. You can imagine my surprise this morning, when there were three overdraft fees. Yesterday, I was very much in the black.
I walked over to my local branch who would only offer me $35 back of the $105. I wanted it all back. They suggested that I call corporate and see what they would do. While I was there I noticed on the teller’s computer transactions in my account that were not on the web site. The teller’s screen was my account in real-time and the online banking services were about two to three days old. Why the disconnect?
The creepy part was that when I called the corporate offices, I got shuffled around to four different people, two of which were so rude and mocking that I actually had to write to BOA corporate and complain. After half an hour of frustration, (I had to shout at one customer service rep to stop talking, because he wasn’t listening to me and just kept yammering on about ledgers) I walked away with a $35 refund and a very bad taste of Bank of America in my mouth.
Bank Of America offers online banking, where you can, in theory, watch your account in real time. Here’s the catch: it’s pretty much just a novelty site that makes customers think they’re in control. The truth is that what you see online is nowhere near what’s really going on with your account. This is important because if you’re like me, and use your debit card for pretty much everything, you need to know what’s coming and going. Only the bank associates in the branches have access to your account in real time.
That’s a key point because when something like an overdraft happens, it’s easy for BOA to charge you, since they claim that they’ve given you the tools to manage your finances. Their tools are shoddy, and their accounting practices seem to fall into the category of "new math." When I pointed out, and rightly so, that the online banking and the in-branch ledgers offered totally different balances, the BOA reps, again, blamed me for not keeping a paper record.
I looked online and found a lot of other people who have problems with this same issue, including an entire website dedicated to BOA's poor all around service. BOA knows that their online banking services are pretty much bonk, including those ridiculous e-mail alerts that they offer, and instead of keeping customers happy and refunding fees they pretty much stole, they toe the party line and offer the same stale lines to client after client. Talking to BOA customer service was like something out of 1984. And I’m not sure that I want to go back.