The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Letters to the Editor

March 19, 2013

Beware of banks' 'courtesy payments'

Big banks were finally brought to court in class-action lawsuits for their surreptitious fee schemes. Neighborhood-friendly credit unions, swelling with defecting customers, got on board and simply changed the marketing rhetoric of their schemes by making the fees optional: “Opt in (the magic can’t-sue words) to our overdraft service and never fall short again.”

Credit unions call this program “courtesy payment” to describe the $25 charge incurred every time you overdraft your account: it’s better to have an overdraft paid for $25 than to be charged $25 and not have it paid. What the banks don’t tell you is that they re-order all your debit transactions from highest to lowest; by charging through the highest transaction amount first, the banks wipe out your balance, then charge through the myriad smaller transactions so that they can extort, for example, 10 fees instead of one; whereas you, acting wisely, charged all the little items first, then made the one big charge that would incur the fee. Once you opt into this service you lose all control over how you do your banking.

When the unwitting customer asks a teller why so many fees were charged for one incurring transaction, the arrogant teller stares at the stupid customer and informs him that he needs to be more careful with his money. Some tellers explain it by saying that the bank’s internal methods of debits and charges are “classified.” Not one admitted to the practice of rearranging the debits, but once pressed, one stated that the bank has no control over the practice.

In rural depressed Otsego and Delaware Counties the credit unions have a lot to gain by marketing this service to the high percentage of poor customers from whom the most money stands to be extorted.

Kathryn Kurtz


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