So my latest financial crisis is that on Monday, someone posted in a Mexpat group on Facebook about Bank of America changing their banking fees. The way it's been for as long as it's mattered to me is that if you swipe your card anywhere you would be charged a 3% fee. But, if you withdrew money from a Santander ATM there were no fees, no extra charges, and you got an up to the minute exchange rate. It was fabulous and made bill paying in Mexico a breeze, funds permitting. As of November 8th, you are now charged the 3% for ATM transactions as well.
When I heard about the change, all I could think was, "Thank God someone told me!" I never would have known if this little announcement hadn't been made. I was really irritated that B of A didn't notify their customers in some way because 3% is kind of a big deal. 3% more for rent, utilities, internet, security, groceries... Ugh, whatever. It makes me sick just thinking about it. I went about my business, was kind of pissed off, but well on my way to getting over it.
Then I woke up Wednesday morning to a text message from Bank of America, letting me know that my available balance was -$42.33. Fuck me. I am super careful with our money, and maintain my check register like a saint. People tease me about it. I'm that asshole at the grocery store, writing down the purchase that I just made. Then, I've got my phone out, using my XE app to see the exchange rate and calculating 3% of the purchase, so that whatever I subtract from my register is accurate.
I have to be anal like that because we truly do live check to check and use almost every penny. Actually, when I got that text from the bank that my account was overdrawn, I thought my balance was $.76. I immediately assumed that I had forgotten to write something down but I had trouble imagining that. I never forget! I was totally freaking out at this point because I had 3 more transactions processing, one of them being international, which meant I was headed for 3 or 4 more overdraft fees. $175 dollars out of my pocket, and I certainly do not have an extra $175 lying around.
So as I sat in line to cross into the US that morning, I began to go through each transaction and compare it to my register. Everything matched up. Until November 12th. I saw that when I withdrew our rent money from Santander, I was charged 3% for the new international ATM fee that I had heard about from other expats. #FacePalm.
I was livid. I called the bank and the gentleman told me that he would see what he could do about reversing the $35 overdraft fee but he couldn't do anything about any future fees and I would need to call back. He apologized and then he said it. "Well ma'am, all you have to do is deposit $11.00 into your account and then you wouldn't risk being hit with any additional fees." I lost it. I'm laughing as I type this but I really lost it then.
Mister, I thought I only had 76 cents in my fucking checking account, do you think I can just pull eleven fucking dollars out of my ass?!
As soon as I said it, I felt horrible and began apologizing profusely. It wasn't his fault. But shit, when you're stressed financially, sometimes it gets to you and you do or say things you wouldn't otherwise. This is what life is like for the exiled Americans, even those of us who are living on the border and earning half a normal household income. Ni modo. It is what it is, right?
The bank rep didn't really know how to respond at that point but after a long, awkward pause he said, "Let me see what I can do for you." At this point, I was crying, and it was so embarrassing. But you know, I've done countless customer service jobs over the years and I've had people get to that point with me before as well. When you're in a position where you have just enough to cover your bills, or maybe not enough to cover them, it's a constant stressor.
I hate to give money so much power, but it really does make the world go round. And no I don't think that money makes you happy but what does that notorious Someecard say? Money doesn't buy happiness but I'd sure feel better drinking a margarita outside my beach front mansion?
Money stresses people out! I felt bad for this poor guy because he had to listen to me. But, he was very nice and extremely professional. He ended up refunding the overdraft charge, and to prevent any future charges, he also refunded the $10.26 charge that started this whole mess. He didn't skip a beat or even put me on hold to speak with a supervisor.
I apologized again and let him know that I was just spread a bit thin and rambled on about keeping up with everything when you are banking in 2 countries and keeping all the fees straight. Clearly he could see our account and the position we're in and he told me that he completely understood and hoped that everything would work out for the best for us. It was quite sweet.
He certainly represents the bank well and types like him are the exact reason I have stuck with Bank of America since I was a teenager waiting tables and babysitting on the side. I know a lot of people have had issues with their mortgages and B of A but I have always had a positive experience with them.
In the end it all worked out but UGH. Fucking 3%