Banks are known for charging their customers fees for services, and most often, some of those fees aren’t necessary. What some people may not know is that certain fees can be refunded if certain steps are taken to get in touch with the right person who can help.
Specifically, I want to talk about the overdraft fee that banks tack on when a charge or purchase is made with an account that does not have sufficient funds to cover it, and then goes below a $0 balance. This is one of the ways banks make money off their customers. In my opinion, there should be allowances. Overdraft fees can be as high as $39 per transaction! Different banks have different policies, and some are even changing the way transactions post to an account. Some banks also provide overdraft protection or opt-in choices for customers who would like the bank to pay overdrafts for them if and when they do occur. However, not all customers qualify for overdraft protection which use lines of credit. For the times that an overdraft or two occur, there are ways to politely ask to have the fees refunded for the mistake.
The first thing that needs to happen is to call the local branch where you visit and do your banking most often. Ask to speak with the branch manager. It will help if you have established good rapport with the branch tellers, bankers and specifically, the branch manager. Explain your situation, in a way that can be empathized. Explain that you made a mistake with calculating your balance, and also be sure to apologize for going into the negative. It will also help significantly if you have the funds to cover your balance and get it back into the positive range on the same day you speak with the manager. Show them that you have the cash, not a check, to deposit and bring you back above $0 that day, if they are able to refund one or two of the fees assessed on the account.
More than likely, the branch manager will want to look into your account and take note of how many fees have been refunded within the last calendar year, if any. If fees have been refunded in the past, how many were refunded, and how frequently did it happen. It will be to your advantage if you haven’t been into the bank once a week for the past month asking to have fees refunded. Don’t take advantage of the service and favor the manager may be about to provide you.
If the manager agrees to refund a fee, be sure to say thank you and prepare to make a deposit immediately. A grateful attitude will help tremendously if you run into the same situation in the future and need to return to the same branch. In a lot of cases though, if you are a frequent overdrafter, the manager is going to say no. Then, you’ll need to proceed to the next step.
In today’s world, social media has a great pull on the way companies want to make their customers happy. For example, in the past, I have written complaints on my public Twitter feed, explaining my dissatisfaction about a certain product or service, ensuring that I include that company’s Twitter profile with the “@” symbol into my tweet. When a company sees an unhappy customer’s tweet in their feed, especially one with many followers who are going to see their public complaint, they will do their best to make it right and help the best they can. Companies have their own social media teams that are exclusive to responding to complaints such as this. In the last year, I used Twitter to make it known that I was very dissatisfied with my bank’s overdraft policy and amount of fees I was charged. Within 3 hours, that bank responded to my tweet, followed me, asking me to direct message them with further information, which I did. Soon after, I received a personal phone call from the chairman’s office of the bank. The representative immediately rectified the problem, refunded all 3 overdraft fees I was charged, and gave me their phone number in case I had any additional problems. I highly suggest trying this route for anybody who is trying to get a bank overdraft fee refunded. People in offices that high up have the power to refund any fee they want. If your local branch manager can’t help, give social media such as Twitter or Facebook a try. I cannot guarantee it will work for everybody, but it is worth a try. If either source does not want to refund the fees, politely explain that you will close your account and search for another bank. A threat to lose your business is good incentive to make you happy and refund those fees.
What I don’t recommend is calling the generic 1-800 customer service number of your bank, and speaking to just any representative who answers your call. Also, do not just speak with any teller at your local branch. These types of people don’t have much decision making power when it comes to fee refunds. In fact, they almost always would need a manager’s override for it to happen. So, it makes no sense to speak with anybody who isn’t management.
Tips to keep in mind that I suggest: Shop around for your bank, and look for banks who are lenient on their overdraft policy. Huntington Bank is a great example of a bank who makes it easier to avoid overdraft fees. They offer a 24 Hour Grace program, which gives their customers a full business day to get a deposit in before overdraft fees are assessed on a negative balance. I love this policy and think many other banks should do this as well. Not everybody is able to get to the bank between 9-5 hours, and not everybody banks with branches that are located inside supermarkets with extended hours.
If you are stuck with overdraft fees, give my tips a try. Be sure to keep an eye on your online banking, checkbook and opt-in practices to stay on top of your banking in the future!