Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bank of America: The U-Haul of Banks

I fought the Man, and I won. Behold, my story of triumph (this is a brief and much more comedic version of a longer, sadder story, the full writing of which would be too emotionally wearing. Just hearing the word ‘deposit’ could conceivably bring on a nervous breakdown).

One sunny, unseasonably carbon de-oxygenated, ozone-depleted day in December, I skipped to the bank to deposit a check from my mother, who was graciously saving my ass from overdrawing my bank account. I had been very sick with laryngitis for the past few days, and was strung out on DayQuil, hence, I had a senior moment and neglected to actually put the check in the deposit envelope. That night I realized my mistake and deposited the check again, for real this time.

Fast-forward three days. I try to use my debit card and am denied by the woman at Wholesale Liquidators. “This is a mistake,” I tell her. “I have plenty of money in my account.” She seems unmoved.

I return to work and look up my account balance online. My balance is $-888,888.88. Something is amiss.

I call Bank of America. They helpfully* explain that the bank suspects me of defrauding my account by falsely depositing funds. Apparently, when the bank suspects this, instead of calling you up, they take $888,888.88 from your account without asking. Apparently this is routine. When I helpfully* ask if they are trying to give me an aneurysm, for Christ’s sake, they hang up on me.

*In these cases, “helpfully” means “not at all helpfully”.

I go to Bank of America. The tellers there cannot help me. They give me more phone numbers. Each person I call is less sympathetic than the last. One even tells me that people “deposit empty envelopes all the time. You’d be amazed.” That said, I am still suspected of fraud and my bank account is in the process of being closed.

“You can close someone’s bank account without calling them?” I ask incredulously.

“A letter was sent out today, m’am,” I am told.

“Why not just toss a note in a bottle and pitch it into the Hudson?” I ask. This gets me the dial tone.

At the urging of my mother, I sit down and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I write outraged, articulate letters to the CEO and President of Bank of America. I drink champagne and clutch my last remaining $40, cash, while indulging macabre fantasies of my disgraced credit score leading me straight to debtor’s prison, which I imagine to look like the bowels of the Delancey Street subway station, outfitted with cells.

A few days later, I open an account with Commerce Bank, which I know must be nice because they have a mascot with a cartoon face and legs. Bank of America has an American flag; I should have known I was doomed. As soon as I get to the office after opening my new account, I get a call from someone named Matthew, from the CEO’s office at Bank of America. He tells me that he’s received my BBB complaint. He tells me that he’s personally overridden the decision to close my account. In fact, it’s open now and all of my money is available. I thank him and hang up. And then …

And then, a strange feeling comes over me. I feel powerful. I feel like I just kicked someone’s ass. I feel like the luckiest wretch in all of Christendom (and of Jewdom). There’s a skip in my step. I buy myself a celebratory Peppermint Mocha, pay my overdue credit card bill, and fantasize about closing my account with Bank of America, possibly wearing a fedora, possibly throwing around words like “morons” and “good-fer-nothins”.

I beat the Man, and I must gloat. One little letter from an indignant customer who never has more than $1,000 in her checking account and they fold like a bunch of pansies. Let this be a lesson to us all:

Bank of America got beat up by a girl.


  1. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Una, you're not alone! I just Googled "Bank of America $888,888.88" and came up with your post, and that was about it. But I'm going through a very similar issue with Bank of America, and was wondering if you would mind sending me the names and addresses of the people you wrote to get the better of this awful bank.

    I deposited a couple checks last friday, thinking nothing more. Then on Saturday I went shopping for a new dress for New Years Eve. I try on practically every dress in the mall before I decided on one, but then my debit card gets declined. I have no cash on me, so I go to the ATM, and sure enough, it spits out my card and won't even let me access my account info. So I call the bank to hear my balance, and just like you, I discovered it was -$888,888.88! I thought I had been identity thefted, so I call customer service, only to be told I have to wait until Tuesday to call a number, they can't help me. I was so upset, to have zero in cash, and can't do anything about it for days. I still can't believe they did that on a Saturday before a three day weekend! Anyway, Tuesday arrives and I call them at a little after 4pm, but it turns out they only take calls until 4! So yesterday I finally get ahold of someone, and they told me that I had deposited a fradulent check, it was from a closed account! I ask for details, and they will only tell me the amount of the check. I realize that it's the check from my roommate for rent, and I ask the Bank of America person how I'm supposed to know if a check is from a closed account, and why they're closing my account. They just say it's their policy, and I'm supposed to know who I'm dealing with. Then I couldn't help myself, and just start yelling, and get hung up on, which as I've learned from your post, is common practice for this bank. Anyway, it turns out that my roommate accidentially wrote me a check from his old account, and just didn't realize it. It's an understandable mistake, since his old checks are identical to the new ones, except the account number. But I've never heard of a bank stealing all the money out of your account, including almost $1400 from a direct deposit from my employer, without notice or real, valid reason. A few years back I got a bad check from someone who purchased something on ebay from me, and I deposited it into my Washington Mutual account, and all they did was charge me a $27 fee for a bad check, and that was it! So now I'm completely broke, and probably going to have to get one of those payday advance loans just to make it until my next payday! Anyway, now that I've ranted on and on, I was wondering if you could send me the addresses and names of the people at B of A you contacted, so I can try to rectify my issues as you did. Heck, if you could, please send me copies of the letters you sent, as I'm curious to see what you said to get that person in the CEO's office to reverse you account closure. I would really appreciate it! Thanks so much, Morgan (mbhinch@gmail.com)

  2. Anonymous7:21 AM

    I have filed my complaint with the BBB - they have done the same to me without any warning. May I experience the same success as you did.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Anonymous5:43 PM

    I recently had a battle with GreenZap and Mipayment.biz for withdrawing $39.90 from my bank account. I called up BOA and told them I didn't authorize the e-check this company had sent for a withdraw and claims hung up on me. Then the following Monday, I went to the bank and sat down with one of their representatives. She called up claims and told me there wasn't anything she or the lady at claims could do and that I should either pay the money or try and get it back myself. So after 2 weeks of trying to get my money back from these people I call up claims again, get through, and am transferred to check fraud. The lady there was very nice and called me back the next day and told me my money was returned to me and that I could close my account and reopen a new one. That was on 9/18. I just now today logged into my account and I see the same amount withdrawn on my debit card which is $-888,888.88. Is this because the lady at check fraud had my account frozen and gave me my money back? Does this mean they don't trust me or think I'm scamming them? Regardless BOA is unbelievable. I would go to another bank but unfortunately I don't have that option.

  4. So, I got a text saying, "WTF, why is the account overdrawn $900k".
    I chuckle and reply, "ummm, you mean maybe $8.89 ?". SHe replies, "NO, WTHell are YOU DOING"!
    This is my Ex, btw, and we just havent closed our joint account that we've had opened an unused for a while now.
    I can't login to my BofA Online access anymore.... that's wierd, says my SiteKey is wrong.
    Call up BofA and all they say is, "We cant help, we suck balls my friend; our CEO is laughing at you write now". "And that $888,888.88 negative in your account is just a 'Code' to scare you and to get you to talk to us 'cause we're closing your accounts.
    Let me say this; the VERY first thing that 'Helper/faggot' said on the phone was, "You can Never bank with Bank of America again!".... Okay, thanks, How are you today?

    I mean, fuck em.

    I'm currently looking to sue for 'charging me $888,888.88' on un-authorized, false pretences.

    I'm going to sue them for, $888,888.88

    Just feels right.

    The joint on my account is a lawyer and is pissed, maybe she can help.

    Ode to Banks, dont get a Bank and don't invest in America.

    `Us Citizen


  5. Anonymous1:58 PM

    i faced the same problem yesterday........i dont knw wat the fuck is going on...bank of america has morons in their staff.

    i hope they get fucked up in recession.....if i get my money back i'll keep just 1 dollar in my account since im a student i can do tat...so they can suck my balls wid that dollar!

  6. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am an International Student. I just opened an account with BOA on 8/28. I read you post about BOA 888888.88 problem and wanted to know if you can help me about BBB. I got this problem last week only and i want to know how to put a complain with Better Business Bureau. I wanted to know that in BBB should i give BOA local address where i live or Company's Headquarters address. I would be really glad if you can help me with it. Please reply soon. Thank you, Joe.

  7. Hi Joe,

    Go to bbb.com and follow the links to file a complaint. I filed online and also found the corporate addresses for the CEO and sent written complaints stating that I had filed a complaint with BBB.

    Hope this helps!

  8. Hi! im an international student. its 9/11 today. when I checked my online acc at 1.00 am. its showing $888,888.88 charged and it is on debit hold. I have opened the accont 10 days back. and did few transactions with my debit card at various outlets, where the total transaction did not exceed 60$. What do I do.. please help me.. I m dyin out.

  9. Avinash, all I can tell you is to call the bank and complain, file electronic and written complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and write to the CEO of B of A telling him that you filed complaints with the BBB. It worked for me, and it seems like a lot of people have had the same problem, so if the Better Business Bureau is flooded with complaints maybe B of A will stop doing this.

  10. The Better Business Bureau is the best option available in such situations as the policies of these financial institutions are so rigid that even if a employee wants to help you out he will stand the risk of loosing his/her job.

  11. what do i do this just happened to me my balance shows -$888,888.88 dollars no i cant use the balance i had what can i do

  12. Going through the same thing myself. Wrote a blog article on my experience at http://blog.dotnetdude.net/2012/10/bank-of-americas-million-dollar.html

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