Consumer Retorts: Wachovia

Why is my bank hitting me with multiple overdraft fees?

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CONSUMER RETORTS

Consumer Retorts

Wachovia

AMERICANS GET slapped with $17.5 billion a year in overdraft fees. That’s partly because 8 of the country’s 10 biggest banks process customers’ daily charges—checks, withdrawals, debits—not in the order they’re made, but from the largest to smallest amount. So if you overdraw with your rent check, any smaller purchases you made earlier in the day will be processed afterward, resulting in multiple overdraft fees. Mother Jones reader James Gordon of Haworth, New Jersey, asked us to look into this “intentional thievery.” We called his bank, Wachovia, where a customer service rep guessed that this was “to get more money out of customers maybe?” Not so, explained corporate communications manager Eileen Leveckis: “Our research has shown that customers prefer us to pay the higher-amount bills such as mortgage, car payments—the really important bills that will impact credit.” Maybe she didn’t get the memo. According to an internal document obtained by USA Today, last year Wachovia told employees that overdraft charges “make up a big percentage of our revenue and is [sic] a HOT button among leadership.”

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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