From Pine View Farm

Watching Ova Ya 0

And then pouncing:

In the space of just three days, Wachovia Bank hit (Benjamin) Cohen with $630 in overdraft fees for what the bank said were 18 overdrafts, all for use of his Visa debit card.


But here’s the thing: Cohen, for all his youthful foibles, was a savvy enough consumer that he had already taken the very step the Fed says all bank customers deserve. After an earlier taste of penalty fees, Cohen had opted out of Wachovia Bank’s system of routinely covering overdrafts at $35 a pop.

There are some complications to the story which I won’t go into to, including a transfer into his account that wasn’t credited until the next day; considering the timing of the transfer, I think the timing of the credit was quite reasonable.

But here’s the kicker:

(Benjamin’s father–ed.) Alan Cohen says he spent at least an hour on the phone with Wachovia representatives, trying to understand the system and express his dismay at the charges.

“They’re barely able, if at all, to explain what happened,” Alan Cohen says.

Full disclosure: I bank at the same bank covered in the story and have received only satisfactory service ever since they gobbled up my preceding bank as long as I have been associated with them.

I almost never use my debit card for anything other than ATM withdrawals and deposits. When I see persons using a debit card to buy an $.89 cup of coffee and a $.50 newspaper, I wonder, “How the hell do they ever keep their checkbooks straight?”

I guess the answer is, “They can’t.”

Plus I have overdraft protection, as any sensible person should (I got it after reading a newspaper column that said, “Any sensible person has overdraft protection”). If I overdraw, the bank deposit a minimal amount of money into my account and charges it to a credit card as a cash advance. I like that far better than a plan I had once with another outfit in which, if I overdrew, the bank put money into my account in $50.00 increments and showed it only on my checking account statement–the dollars stand out on the credit card statement; the interest rate is higher, but it’s easier to manage, which I consider a fair trade-off.)


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