The illusion is that corporations exist to serve our needs, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are self serving. It’s not wrong or selfish, just a matter of course in a capitalist society. However, ethics do come into play when corporations manipulate the delusion to take advantage of trusting customers. Bank of the West revealed just such a deceptive, greedy facet when it used its position of privilege and responsibility to strip me of funds it had not earned.
Weekly, I received my payroll check and duly deposited it in my account to meet my financial responsibilities which were all automatically and electronically handled. Being a construction foreman, I was on the road and spending my summer in North Platte, Nebraska 5 hours from home. On October 22, 2007, I deposited my weekly check via ATM. On October 25, 2007, I purchased some books at WaldenBooks for the sum of approximately $68. After swiping my debit card, the clerk of the store informed me that there was an online coupon available and I opted to utilize it. Canceling the transaction, she swiped my card, but apparently there was some sort of mistake so she canceled again and ran my card a third and final time. I had my books and was on my way.
A couple weeks later, consistently depositing my checks each consecutive week, I noticed on my receipt a major incongruence with the balance. Making my way to a retailer offering free WiFi, I accessed my bank account on my laptop and noticed that 3 days after my October 22 deposit, I had been assessed a $99 fee on my account. I immediately called the bank and waded through confusion with a representative until I was able to get a Supervisor on the line who was able to inform me that it was my 2 canceled transactions totaling approximately $130 from WaldenBooks that was the source of the problem. Unfortunately, when a transaction is canceled, the funds are still put on hold – a common and understandable process, in itself. With those funds on hold, the account lacked sufficient funds to support 3 debit card purchases with respective amounts of $2.78, $5.11 and $10.83. In other words, I had incurred a $99 fee for minute purchases because a debiting program associated with Bank of the West accounts failed to recognize the difference between insufficient funds and practical precautions. Hearing this absurd revelation, I informed the supervisor that I wished to challenge the fee as well as the incidental $264 in cumulative fees the following 2 weeks due to my ignorance that I was short the initial $99. The supervisor, affable and assuring, granted my request. Sadly, a week later the problem was not only not resolved, but my request had been denied. I was told to call my branch manager, which I did. Manager of the Harlan, Iowa, branch said that she had been unaware of the circumstances of the challenge, but regardless would not be able to reimburse me of the fees, now $924, residually. Instead, she suggested that I approach the retailer who has no more fault than that entailed with anyone following standard procedure(after all, had I used cash, the retailer could have canceled a million transactions and the only funds I’d be liable for would be the sum of my purchase).
Regrettably, I am now forced to pursue the matter in court. However, I believe it to be only fair that such impersonal and selfish possibilities, though rare, be brought to public view. Hopefully, my own inconvenience will serve as a catalyst for change in a program that indiscriminately and automatically strips a blue-collar worker’s hard earned income despite extenuating circumstances. It would be one thing to charge me for a service rendered, but in this case I have forfeited $924 in lieu of funds that never left the bank When the illusions get so thick that a bank is able to appropriate 100% of a person’s income for solely self-serving purposes, it is time to cast some light on the situation and incite consideration for those whose only worth to a bank is that of a fraudulent or ill-begotten gain.