By Jolie Vitale
Jolie Vitale was an intern last semester with the Quicken Loans Marketing team. She did such a great job, she is no longer an intern – she’s a full-time team member! Congratulations, Jolie on joining Quicken Loans and on a well-written post about bank overdraft fees.
Who hasn’t at least once received that statement, screen shot or letter with the dirtiest of all dirty words: “overdrawn?” It is an unmistakably memorable moment, usually filled with the proliferation of other dirty words, a heated urgency to find your transaction register and racing feelings of anger, stupidity, denial, confusion, hope and surrender. If you haven’t experienced this moment, I am going to venture a guess that you represent about 3% of the checking account-holding population. If you’re part of the other 97%, including myself, you know all too well the ensuing routine: you call the bank, are ambiguously told what went wrong, try to fight for the return of your precious money (let’s pause to reflect the timeliness and pain of this process…ok) and usually end up losing- even in the event that the mistake was on the bank’s part. The institution’s stern reaction to your default is a bombardment of fees that devour your balance and propel your savings into debt before you know what hit you.
My latest slap on the wrist totaled $70.
Amidst the bills were two brief, vague letters that told me absolutely nothing except that my new bank, Charter One, had found a reason to snatch my money for itself. When you’re an intern paying for a one-bedroom apartment, a copper penny becomes a giant bar of platinum. Losing 7,000 of those copper treasures is enough to knock your breath out. Having learned the hard lesson of account management too many times before–and knowing that I couldn’t afford to be negligent right now–I was dumbfounded. I was positive that I hadn’t overdrawn my account and terrified that my evil bank would find some way to justify their seizure of my money. And they did.
It is a very long and confusing story as to why my money was gone. My “teller” wasn’t much of a “story-teller” and I was left puzzled and irate over the weekend. The good news was that I still had a positive balance. The bad news was that I had a week and a half until my next paycheck. I stewed all weekend and meticulously prepared my case. I wrote down phone numbers for the Better Business Bureau, Charter One’s CEO, and Detroit Channel 7 local news anchor Bill Spencer who was “On My Side”- anyone who could get me my money or defame the bank.
I woke up early Monday to wait for my lunch hour. I called the regional VP, whose business card I took from a sign that said “Every client, Every transaction, Every time”. Voicemail. I called the manager of a different local branch. He was busy. At around 3:30, the call came in. I was ready for battle and my statements and other weapons were conditioned and in order in front of me. The branch manager introduced himself and informed me that he had researched my account before calling me. He called my supermarket branch, spoke with the two employees there and had the charges reversed.
Wait, what? Surely this is the part of the story where I wake up, get ready for work and begin the long ordeal to reclaim my money. Nope. Fifteen seconds, in-and-out and my wealth was mine again. To sweeten the deal, twenty minutes later the VP’s assistant called to tell me that her colleague was out of the office but that she would do her best to help out. The profoundly emotional moment when all was right in the world once again- that moment when I was glad that another company worked as hard as I did professionally to make sure that their clients were treated right- that moment was brought to me courtesy of “The DIFF”. And “The DIFF” feels amazing.