What a surprise, it was BofA's fault...
Nov 10, 2006

This morning I went down to my local Bank of America branch to discuss yesterdays' problem. I would have gone yesterday afternoon, but I was more than a little peeved at the time and decided that it would be more productive if I went this morning with a level head. As was very evident to me, and which I tried mightily to beat into the head of the woman I spoke on the phone with yesterday, it turns out that it is not normal for my available balance to go down, even when a hold is placed on a deposit. Normal procedure would be for the deposit to be made and the money credited to the account. Because it was a large deposit, they put a hold on it so they could wait for it to clear. A hold works the same as a debit, but is temporary. So if you deposited $10,000 to you account, there would be a $10,000 credit, followed by a $10,000 hold / pending debit. This has the effect of raising your balance but not your available balance so you can see how much money you will have when it clears without being given access to the money the bank doesn't actually have yet. All perfectly reasonable and logical. What happened with my account was that it was deposited, and the teller who processed the deposit put a hold on it. Then some other branch of the bank saw that I had a large deposit to my account and went and put another hold on it. The result? An $11,000 credit, and a combined $22,000 debit. From there it's pretty obvious what happened to lead to all of my money in savings being transferred as overdraft protection for a debit that was far more than I could handle. The nice man at the bank that I talked to removed the second hold, and therefore the extra $11,000 debit, and refunded me the overdraft fees (which I had already been promised would not appear in the first place). I will say that they did a very good job of handling the problem quickly and efficiently when I went in and talked to them in person. However I am still more than a little angry that this happened in the first place. It was, without a doubt, a screw-up on their part. And a pretty massive screw-up too. And not only was there the initial problem, but when I talked to them on the phone they were completely unhelpful and didn't even acknowledge that there was a problem (How anyone can fail to realize that a deposit should not, under any circumstances, lower your available balance I don't know). If I weren't lucky enough to be self-employed and able to just run down to the bank to handle this, not to mention savvy enough to recognize that no matter what they said on the phone it was most certainly a screw-up on their part, I would have been stuck with no available cash other than what I had in my pocket ($6) until the funds were released and the hold dropped. I also would have been stuck with the overdraft penalties and possibly other penalties for dropping not only to a zero balance, but a negative balance across all accounts (the remaining $20 that had been in my savings account went to overdraft protection this morning before I went in to the bank). It also would have been a massive blight on my bank statements (and may still be), which could cause problems when providing the documentation for the mortgage I will be applying for in the near future. So overall I'm still pretty upset with Bank of America. When all this is over and all my money is accounted for and put in my high-interest account, I'm going to go talk to someone at Citizen's Bank and see if I'd rather keep my money with them.
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