There’s a reason Bank of America has such a terrible reputation. They are a scam. The only reason they’re still around is because they suck on the government teet, and that’s not the point of this story. They also prey on lower income clients, through late fees, overdraft fees, interest and probably flat out theft, but I can’t prove that. Here’s my story. I’ll start with why I haven’t had a Bank of America account for years.
I used to have a Bank of America checking and savings account, when I was in college. Bank of Americas were everywhere. Branches when I was in Boston, branches when I was home in Connecticut. This all happened 5 years ago. While the storyline is true, some of the dollar amounts might be more generalized.
I needed money. About $2500. More than I could withdraw at the ATM. I had to use a teller. Well, my account wasn’t eligible to use the teller. I would need the not student checking, which was something like $12/mo. So I had to pay $12, just to get my own money. Seemed ridiculous to me. The only way to get the money all at once, without incurring a fee, was to close my accounts. So that’s what I did. I moved to Cambridge Trust Company and have been much happier for my day to day banking needs.
Fast forward to September, 2018. I’m looking to get a train ticket to New York City. I see there’s a special for Amtrak MasterCard. I take the train relatively often enough and always think I’ll be traveling more, so I signed up. Thirty thousand points if you spend $1000 within 90 days.
When I opened the card, I put two train tickets on it, $202.00 total. The bill was due 10/20/2018. No problem. I don’t like dealing with that kind of stuff, so I set up autopay. All my bills are on autopay.
October 21, 2018 rolls around and I see that the money has not been withdrawn from my checking account. I log in and see there’s no autopay set up and my bill is a day late. I immediately pay the statement balance of $202. A day late. But it’s the weekend, so it goes through 2 days later.
Next up, I log in to check things out and see that I was charged a $25 late fee and $16.39 interest. What? For one day late on my first payment? And over $16 in interest for a $202 balance? That must be a mistake. I get my next statement in the mail, with all of this in writing. It’s explained that the $16.39 interest charge is 24.99% APR on $798.19. This is obviously a mistake, my statement balance was $202.00.
I call the bank, and am on hold for nearly an hour. I look online, and see the option to make an appointment to stop in a branch. Perfect. That’s much easier. I make an appointment for later that day.
I walk into the branch at 440 Boylston for my 3:00 appointment. A man introduces himself, takes me to his office and asks how he can help me. I explain the situation above. He says unfortunately, he cannot do anything with credit card accounts, he has to call some call center. I find this funny, because on his desk is a brochure for selecting the right Bank of America credit card for you. I’ll let you in on a secret, the answer is none of them. Anyway, I ask him, why the brochure if he can’t do anything with credit cards? He explains that it’s not that he can’t do anything. He can open credit cards and accept payments. He was also able to tell me that it takes 2 months for autopay to actually pay your bill, after it’s set up. How does that makes sense? I set it up right through Bank of America. There was at least no obvious warning.
He calls through to some help line, gives all his ID codes and explains my situation. He hands the phone to me. The woman explains to me that nothing can be done, that interest is charged on the entire balance on the card, not the statement balance and it’s my own fault. She was extremely unhelpful. She was unable to transfer me to anyone else. I was pretty upset, raised my voice and swore at this woman. She said her name is “Sue,” probably not true. She was unable to transfer me to anyone else, has no identification number, no extension, the poor woman doesn’t even have an email address! She will tell me no more than that she’s in Pennsylvania. So we proceed to close the account.
At the beginning of the call, she indicates that it may be recorded. If the call is recorded, I am legally entitle to a copy. I ask her. She gets flustered. Puts me on hold. She told me her supervisor Denise Richards is going to call me within 48 hours. However, because poor Sue doesn’t have an email address, she can’t confirm the appointment in writing. Her supervisor is apparently also too busy to confirm the call.
The man in the branch was extremely nice, although unhelpful. I understand that it’s not his fault. He probably has to deal with irate customers everyday, considering the company. Once I calmed down, he opened about what it’s like to work there so I really couldn’t be too hard on him. He was nice enough to accept the payment to my bill due 11/20 which I already paid interest on and said he will be escalating my complaint. I bitched about having to wait in line to see a teller after all the non sense, so he offered to take the payment and settle up. He actually took my check and waited in line with everyone to see a teller to pay off the balance.
I am shocked that autopay takes 2 months to kick in. I’m shocked I’m charged a late fee for a one day late payment. I’m shock I’m charged interest after a one day late payment. I’m shocked that I’m charged interest on payments that aren’t even due yet. I cannot wait for Denise Richards to reach out to me, if she does. Who wants to make a bet that my phone call with that poor woman Sue wasn’t recorded?
My only advice is, to stay away from Bank of America. There’s a reason none of my friends have accounts there. It’s a shitty business operation.
Karen from Executive Services gave me a call today. She offered to refund the late fee of $25, and confirmed that the call was recorded, that she listened to the recording and that I was being charged interest on purchases with payments that were not yet due. I’m waiting for their legal team to reach out to me regarding a copy of my initial call with Sue. However, I would also like to get a copy of the call with Karen. You would be amazed at the verbal gymnastics she tried to use to get around saying that I wasn’t paying interest on balances that were not yet due. Eventually, through asking simple yes or no questions, she was able to confirm that interest is charged on the entire balance on the card, not just that the statement balance. Never had a card like that before. She also reminded me that there’s absolutely no grace period and a fee and interest are charged the second your payment is late. At least she was able to give me a case number. God, it must suck to work for Bank of America.