Webster Bank / Preditory fees
Here is how Webster Bank allows a simple "mistake" to snowball into a seriously large amount of overdraft charges.
On Monday, April 20’th, I had $557.76 in my checking account, more than enough to cover the various transactions I’d made over the days prior to that with my debit card. Everything was figured into that balance. On Monday, I received the lump sum payment from a 401K that I cashed out to get myself out of debt, a check for $4045.97. Elated to have this money, I immediately divvied it up and planned what bills to pay with it. I deposited in the bank through the ATM Monday afternoon.
Here’s where things take a turn for the worse. I went home after depositing the 401K and on Webster’s online banking website (where I do most of my bill payments); I set up a payment to CL&P for $50 and a payment to GE Financing for $654 to pay off a charge card balance. As long as I have been using online banking, the processing time for payments set up online has been 1-2 days for EFT payments, and up to 5 for check payments. Well, not on this day. Webster Bank IMMEDIATELY seized the payment amounts I had set up and this caused my account to enter a default status, with all of the funds from the 401K check unavailable. I know and understand the policy regarding holds on checks; however it seemed a bit odd that on this particular day the bills I had lined up came out instantly, even though the online banking system evidently knew I had a hold on my funds. I was not attempting to withdraw cash that was unavailable, nor was I out using my debit card with unavailable funds. I was simply setting up a few bills to be paid online.
This alone would have been understandable, albeit frustrating. But what happened over the next few hours was unbearable. All of the other transactions that I had made sure I had money to cover went through on my account. One by one, for a total of 7, they posted against an unavailable balance. With dread, I knew that each one would incur a $37 charge as soon as they finally released my funds.
Knowing this, I attempted to reason with the Contact Center over their 1-800 number. After a discussion with someone whom it seemed was trained to be condescending and
apathetic, I could tell that the call was going nowhere. He did make clear however the website’s policy regarding bill payments, stating that funds must be available 24 hours BEFORE even setting up a bill payment. What is not clear to me is where it says this on the website, and why that is not how it was ever done for me in the past. Finally, he noted that there was nothing anyone could do anyways until the fees actually hit my account.
At this point, I decided that the only way I would find a person who actually might take an unbiased, honest look at my account and treat me like a human being was to talk to a bank employee face to face. What a relief I felt when I went to the Bristol Plaza office and sat down with ****. With patience and a caring, helpful demeanor, the Customer Service agent looked over the whole situation and I got the feeling she agreed that this was not fair what was happening. She even expressed surprise when she saw that they had taken the funds out online that very same afternoon that I posted them. *** didn’t however, have the authority to remove any of the charges. Mind you, at this point, my fees for paying a bill with a check on hold were now up to $259. She told me that she would show a printout to the Branch Manager and discuss what happened with her the next day.
That next day was today, April 23, 2009. Shirley left me a message on my phone telling me that the Manager had decided to remove 3 of the fees, for a refund of $111. This was a so-so relief, as I felt that if anything, I should have had all but two removed; the two for the payments I made online not realizing that the money had to be readily available. I was happy though that at least the Manager had taken the time to look everything over and relieve some of the excessive fees.
Then I came home and went online. Two MORE $37 fees had been charged to my account! This was not a mistake. I called customer service right away, and they explained that those fees must have posted yesterday and the ones that the Manager rebated will appear tomorrow.
How in the world did two more transactions post to a “non-available” balance yesterday when the check MUST have cleared because funds were available to take their 7- $37 overdraft fees??
I am absolutely outraged. This practice is excessive, and it is predatory. With these additional fees, minus the two that were credited my account has been charged a total of $333! I’m being penalized $333 for trying to pay some bills with money sitting right in the account? I don’t know about the rest of Webster Bank customers, but I do not have $333 to throw away. Because of this, I do not know how I’m going to stay on track with new bills that will be coming in.
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