Sara Wars – The Phantom Bank Charge

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Always pass on what you have learned – Yoda

Soon for me to have another post it is. But Kristen Lamb suggested blogging about my latest triumph – and what kind of padawan would I be if I didn’t listen to the master?

I got paid today (yay). I logged into my bank account, only to find I’d been overdrawn for a week. Not having a lot of them, I’m a little anal when it comes to my finances. I *hate* getting failed direct debit / automatic payment fees. I *hate* going overdrawn when I haven’t seen it coming. So it doesn’t happen much. These incur fees and fines that are more lost money on top of that already lost.

Last week, I specifically called my internet company because I knew the funds weren’t currently where they needed to be to pay my direct debit. I paid by card from a different account. And then confirmed at least 3 times that the direct debit wouldn’t go out this month.

Having checked and doubled checked on the phone – I then didn’t check my bank account to see if they lied to me. They did. They overdrew me. Meaning bank fees would ensue at the end of the month. So I called the bank to find out when these would occur and how much they would be ($15 – but that’s not the point!). I then called the internet company to have a fight and try to reclaim the fees that hadn’t yet happened. And I’m usually epically nonconfrontational (which apparently isn’t a word – but should be).

We had a little row about whether the customer service person I spoke to previously even know I was on a direct debit and wasn’t just paying by card. I explained that the whole reason I called was to make sure the direct debit could be averted. I had even asked if it was too late and if I should physically move cash around by foot from one bank to another (quicker than an internet transfer here in NZ, trust me) to make sure the payment could be made as usual. I was assured it would be fine.

The lady on the phone shot me down. But said she would review the call to see if my wild claims had foundation. My account being in credit, I could ask for a a refund. By this time, I’ve been paid, so I’m not overdrawn. I don’t mind being in credit with them, I just mind the impending fees for having been in my non-existent overdraft through no fault of my own.

There’s a lot going on at the moment. I’m a bit overwhelmed with work and life… The lady on the phone upset me far more than she should. By this point, I knew it was a case of $15. It was not the end of the world. I’m not even sure it met the threshold to be a matter of principle. But for some reason, it was. I was disproportionately incensed at the injustice (first world problems, ey?!). This reaction was the first hint that I need to take a chill pill, a step back and possibly a valium and calm down. And address the real issues I’m upset about at the moment.

The second clue was the unreal jubilation I felt when the lady called back and, apology in her voice, backtracked and said she’d refund the bank fee, having listened to my call of the week before. Could I send proof of the bank fee? Well, no. It hadn’t even happened yet.

But when it does, I’ll get it back 🙂 Victory is mine – I have won the battle!

To win the war, I’m going to have to get some perspective. Not to belittle my jubilation, but there are bigger victories to fight for right now.

Is anyone else outraged by unjustified bank fees? Has anyone had a similar little triumph give them a boost at exactly the right time? I think it’s ok to do a little victory dance. I definitely did one… And it was fine, since I then resolved to regain my perspective and get back to work! 

11 thoughts on “Sara Wars – The Phantom Bank Charge

    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Thanks Diana 🙂 all about beating the system, one reclaimed bank charge at a time :p

  1. swiveltam

    I hate when that happens. You did the right thing to fight for RIGHT! I think that is what it’s about.There are things that irritate us and we need to chill, like someone NOT waiting their turn at a 4-way stop, or someone having 14 groceries in the 10 Items or Less lane. But money is money and hard earned! I say WTG. Victory dance well deserved!

    I haven’t been feeling that way lately, but I’ve been battling petty jealousies within myself. Sometimes small victories like yours can help us let go of things and people we have no control over 🙂

    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Thanks Tam 🙂 haha those people in the 10 items or less queue *shakes fist* You’re completely right – we need to not dwell on our defeats but dance at our small victories. That’s the way we win in the end!

  2. Deborah Makarios

    Ah, the burning sense of injustice! A toast to righting the little wrongs (crunch crunch crunch).
    What really used to aggravate me was how utility companies invariably changed my details to read ‘Ms’ when I told them every time I was ‘Miss’. I mean, what’s the point of offering people the option if you’re not going to give it to them? Strangely, I haven’t had those problems at all since I became Mrs.

    1. saralitchfield

      haha yeah it doesn’t make any sense to offer the choice if you’re not going to honour it :p well trumped by matrimony! 1 more week until I get my bank charge reversed – a toast indeed!

  3. Aussa Lorens

    Ugh, I’ve been there. And while its “only” $15 it feels like a lot more when you’re having to fight someone for it! I know there are “policies” and such but it seems to me that people ought to err on the side of treating each other well and try to be as helpful as possible in these situations! When I worked at AT&T I’d do anything to get people’s overage charges credited– it doesn’t take any money away from the worker to help someone else out. So, here’s to your victory: Huzzah!

    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Lol thanks 🙂 If only more people were like you! It’s so true, and if I ever get the chance to liberate a tiny amount of money from a corporate entity that won’t even notice the difference, at no loss to myself, but with the bonus of making someone else’s day better – I’ll be all over it!

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