Charter One - Charter One preventing me from eating for 35 days

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2009 at 8:42pm CDT by 48839a8d

Product: Checking Account

Company: Charter One

Location: 1215 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH, 44114, US

URL: http://www.charterone.com/

Category: Other

On 05/11/2009, I placed an order with an online merchant for $70.48. The merchant accidentally authorized my debit card with Charter One twice. Even though the merchant didn't actually charge my debit card twice (it only shows up one time on my statement) Charter One considered this an overdraft. Because other items posted the same day, I wound up with $149 in fees. Without the $70.48 being held twice, I had +$38.81 in my account, so there would have been no overdraft fees.

I believed I was covered by the advertisements of no liability for unauthorized transactions by Charter One, so I went to see my branch assistant manager, PJ. PJ told me since the merchant didn't actually charge my debit card twice (only authorized it twice) that the fees would not be reversed for fraud. I explained (and the merchant explained over the phone as well) that I only authorized one $70.48 transaction, so I shouldn't have liability or overdraft fees for it. PJ told me his hands were tied, and that I could try contacting toll free customer service. They refunded me $75, but absolutely refused to refund the remaining $74. I told PJ that toll free customer service didn't resolve the entire issue, so he told me I would have to contact Charter One's regional manager. I called her every day for two weeks, leaving messages, and to this day have never herd back from her.

While still trying to get my $74 back, on July 3, Charter one charged me $234 in fees. (That $0.94 pop turned into a $40.94 pop, unreal.) No overdraft would have happened if I hadn't been charged the $74 in fees in May, or had been given them back. They refunded $39, but refused to refund the remaining $195.

At this point, I decided to file a small claims lawsuit for the remaining $269.

On 07/20/2009, I did an online transfer of available funds from one account to another. I even have a printout of the transaction posted to my account on online banking showing the date of 07/20/2009. On 07/21/2009, I was charged $156. The overdraft notice didn't show the online transfer, so I provided the printout that I had. (Also note that no overdraft would have happened if I hadn't been charged the *original* $74 in fees in May, or had been given them back.) Kathy, a supervisor at toll free customer serivce, said the transaction happened before the daily cut-off of 11:30pm, however my session "timed-out" after the daily cut-off of 11:30pm. (After making the transfer, I stayed online for a while to download copies of statements and checks to get them in Quicken.) She said the transfer had mistakingly been marked as the following day since my session persisted past the cut-off, even though the transaction happened early enough. However, she said I would have to go through my branch to get fees. At the branch, they insisted that the transaction happened after the cut-off, even though I had a printout showing it was timely, so they wouldn't rebate any fees. Too late to amend my amount for the small claims lawsuit, so I figured if I won the first one, I would file another.

On 08/04/2009, PJ told me Charter One's legal department was going to give me a $269 check if I would dismiss the small claims lawsuit. They wouldn't pay the additional $156 since it wasn't on this lawsuit. I had him put this in writing first, then had the case dismissed. I received Charter One's check on 08/19/2009. Then, I received a letter from Charter One on 08/20/2009. It stated: "We pride ourselves on providing legendary service. Because of this, Charter One Bank routinely reviews customer accounts. Recently, we received the above referenced account(s) and have concluded that we no longer are able to maintain our banking relationship with you. Effective immediately, all the deposit acounts listed above with Charter One Bank are closed. We will be mailing you a cashier's check for any remaining balance(s). This check will be mailed to you at the address indicated in our records at the close of business on Aug 31, 2009. For your security, do not write checks against your checking account(s) as they will be returned unpaid."

Great, I have 14 outstanding checks, and had sufficient funds in the account to cover all of them plus some. I went over immediately and explained to PJ that giving me no notice was going to cause a lot of checks to bounce, generating more fees both in my account at Charter One and in the account of the person who deposited them. He had no knowledge that Charter One was closing the account, and said he would contact corporate on 08/21/2009 to see about having the account kept open a bit longer to avoid any checks bouncing.

On 08/20/2009, I also called toll free customer service and spoke to a supervisor named Pam Demitras. She told me that the account was scheduled to be closed on 08/31/2009, and that the branch administration department would have to handle my account. They were closed, so she suggested that I call back on 08/21/2009 to see what they would do for me.

Well, I never heard from PJ on 08/21/2009. I called toll free customer service and this time spoke to a supervisor named Donna Llomb. She said the account was scheduled to be closed now on 10/05/2009, but that there was a permanent hold on all funds that were in the account or would be deposited into the account. I thanked her for extending the time the account was open, and asked her if checks presented to the account would be paid noweven though there was a hold on all funds. She said with the hold, they would be returned non-sufficient funds. I explained to her that pushing back the closing of the account while still bouncing the checks didn't help, but hurt me. Now, I wouldn't receive the money from them for an additional 35 days, which would make it impossible for me to provide replacement checks to people, pay my rent, or even buy groceries. (All our money is there.) She agreed this didn't make any sense, and said I would have to call back Monday on 08/24/2009 when the holds department was in.

On 08/24/2009, I called toll free customer service again and spoke with a supervisor named Carol. She said the fraud department was handling the hold. So, I spoke with Maurnie Phillips who is a supervisor in the fraud department. She said even though there wasn't any fraud, that her department also handled holding funds on accounts that were being closed. Whatever. She said that her hands were tied -- the closing date couldn't be moved back to 08/31/2009, that checks would be returned non-sufficient funds (NSF) generating more fees, and that I couldn't have my money until 10/05/2009. I asked her what the justification was for the hold on my funds, since they were all cash deposits and direct deposits, and had even been in the account available for a while. She gave an excuse that activity needs to stop on the account so they can close it, and if the amount they need to give me at the end keeps changing they can't figure out how much to give me at the end. (How about giving me the money that the final balance is on 10/05/2009?) (Or, my debit card doesn't work anymore, so what about giving me the difference between the money in there and the pending debit card authorizations?) She said the only thing she could do was escallate the issue to the priority response department, which operates under the Charter One Chairman's office. She said I would hear back within 24 hours, and I pointed out that wouldn't help for any checks that tried clearing overnight.

Also on 08/24/2009, I called every person that I have outstanding checks to. About half of them have deposited my check in the last business day or two, so they are going to generate fees on my end and the depositor's end.

So, unless the priority response department steps in and fixes this, I'm stuck without money until 10/05/2009. I'm not holding my breath. And, I won't even get all my money back because they'll be able to take hundreds of dollars in NSF fees for checks even though they have cleared funds in my account that should be available but are being classified as being not available.

What's my best way of (a) getting money earlier than 10/05/2009 so I can eat (their letter said I would get the check 08/31/2009); and (b) forcing them to refund NSF fees they are going to charge me and reimburse me for NSF fees I have to pay people I wrote checks to?


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