Bank Account: Story of a Mini-Bailout

We begin long ago and far away. My interest in collective nouns collided with my reverence for William Archibald Spooner to coin the phrase a wunch of bankers.

Here and now in the USA and in 2009, my opinion of banks and bankers is rather lower. I’m still seething* about the incident of Citi, Citizens, and the mortgage payment. The mortgage was, and still is, with Citi. It was paid automatically from an account at Citizens.

Earlier this year, I instructed Citi to take future mortgage payments from an account at Bank of America. Citi’s website, though which I made the change, gave no indication that there would be any problem. I also closed the Citizens Bank account.

I was rather surprised, then, to find that: Citi attempted to take the next payment from Citizens; Citizens attempted to make the payment; and that Citizens then charged the account due to insufficient funds. I called Citizens about it, and was told that I was responsible for the fees incurred, since I had authorized Citi to take payments from my Citizens account. It didn’t matter that I’d closed the account, and that I’d told Citi not to take any more payments from it.

The Citizens Bank agent on the phone advised me to contact Citi and take the matter up with them. It seemed to me unlikely that Citi would agree to pay for its system’s mistake. “What do you think Citi will say?” I asked the Citizens agent. He told me that he didn’t know, and that was precisely why I should call Citi. I must admit that he sort of had a sort of point.

I recently paid off Citizens, because it has the power to hurt my credit rating if I don’t. Yes, I might well be able to get the credit rating corrected. But I probably shouldn’t spend too much more time and energy on this matter.

Instead, I will let the healing power of blogging* banish the beasts of banking from my brain, and move on. I would like banks to pay for their own mistakes, but don’t really expect them to do so. I regard my payment of $100 as being a sort of cross between protection money and a mini-bailout – one dwarfed by the trillions involved in the big bailout.

I currently use Bank of America. BoA isn’t perfect. For example, its website won’t allow a transfer from savings to checking. Right now, it won’t allow me to pay bills online (due to scheduled maintenance).

BoA also mixed up some details of my account and my downstairs neighbor’s account. I know this because they have called me at home and asked for him. I hope and think that the landline number is the only thing that’s somehow leaked between the accounts (which share the same street address, but have different appartment numbers, and certainly different account holders).

Thanks to Jason for the photo of the old bank vault (and the old banker). Thanks also to the competent and helpful bankers, who are more plentiful than the above might suggest.

* I’m serious about the healing power of blogging. After writing this, I’m not seething any more.

Two Examples of Political Intelligence

globeiqGallup recently surveyed Americans on what the federal government should do about banks. A majority of Americans (54%) favor a temporary government “takeover” of major U.S. banks.

So most Americans would support bank nationalization? Not exactly: when Gallup used the n-word (nationalization) itself, support dropped to 37%.

If, in the search for political intelligence, we turn to our local Boston broadsheet, we find, in today’s Globe, new of Michelle Obama’s sleeves, or lack thereof.