I am not exactly what you would call a stellar money manager. Like many banks, mine offers overdraft protection and I end up being hit with overdraft charges more often that I’d like. My bank charges me $25 per overdraft. That’s essentially very high interest on an extremely short term loan, since the bank requires me to bring my balance positive within 30 days. Sometimes, though, it is worth it and I overdraft and pay the fee.
The October 5 edition of USA Today features a couple, Felipe and Racheli Vidal, whining about how the mean old bank is taking advantage of them by allowing them to overdraft,
The [overdraft] penalties came out to nearly three-quarters of the amount they overdrew. Sometimes, the fees were more expensive than the actual transaction: An $8.40 meal of Wendy’s chicken nuggets and rinks in April ended up costing the Vidals three times that amount in penalties.
“I’m admittedly poor at managing my bank account, not knowing where my money is,” says Felipe, 36, who lives in Miami Lakes, Fla., with his wife and two daughters. “People don’t pay attention, and frankly, institutions are taking advantage of that weakness.”
That’s right, it is the bank’s fault every time the Vidals try to debit their account or write a check for more money than they actually have in their account. Felipe would have been much better off if the bank had declined his debit transaction at Wendy’s or bounched his check, neither of which would have inconvenienced or caused even bigger problems.
And it is not like this Wendy’s issue was a one-time event for the Vidals, where the bank perhaps had signed them up for overdraft protection without informing them that they would be charged $26 for each overdraft. According to the USA Today, the Vidals went through 35 overdrafts from July 2004 to July 2005 — almost three a month. These folks apparently don’t have a clue at any given moment how much is in their account.
Sorry, but your horrible money management skills are not the bank’s fault. Instead of whining to USA Today, these folks need to get their bank balance under control or ask the bank to just remove the damn overdraft protection.
But, of course, the American way these days is always blame somebody else, and the Vidals have that routine down pat.