By: Revanche

How not to get thoroughly screwed by overdraft fees

September 28, 2006

If you have a serious case to make (that does NOT include “oh, uh, whoops, you mean I DON’T have $150 bucks extra?) then you should contact everyone involved and explain -nicely, but firmly – what you felt happened and why the company should reimburse you.

In recent weeks I had a one-two-three combo of having a large payment withdrawn from
my bank account [the one I only keep rent money and car money in] twice and subsequently got hit with an overdraft fee for the second withdrawal as well as a second overdraft fee for a small check that was cashed the day after my account was overdrawn.

That was $50 I simply could not let lie by the wayside. Maybe banks can make their money off of me when I’m filthy rich and $50 is scrounged sofa change but I’m definitely not there yet!

I called my bank as soon as I saw the first overdraft and explained that
1. the first withdrawal was due to an error on the part of the merchant,
2. I understood that I would have to work with the merchant to resolve the issue,
3. BUT I wanted to inform them that I was contesting the second withdrawal so I was not ignoring the problem.

This has the benefit of letting your bank know that you’re on it and they will be far more lenient and informative than if you just let it go for a while until the merchant resolves the issue and refunds your money. It had a bonus benefit, too, which I’ll cover in a bit.

I called the merchant next and explained that
1. the original payment had been scheduled online,
2. that the scheduled payment did NOT appear on the list of pending payments as it has always appeared in previous months,
3. because, I understood that if a scheduled payment drops off the website for any reason, the merchant still considers me responsible for the missed payment
4. so I scheduled the payment *again*

I asked the merchant to reimburse me for the amount of the payment and for the overdraft fee incurred. They accepted a fax of my online banking transactions as proof of the double payment and the overdraft fee and, although they took about two weeks to send a check for the overdraft fee, the payment amount was back in my account within a few days.

The bonus from contacting the bank was that they actually reversed the second overdraft fee, without even being asked to!

After talking to about four different people [three from the merchant, and one from the bank] I came out free and clear and NOT in the hole!

Go ahead, give it a try!

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