Like all good Americans, I pay my taxes. Well, at least I try to anyway. When you work as I do for a dozen different publications, sometimes things run awry.
Such was the case in '07 when I'd forgotten to file on a W9. I didn't know I'd forgotten, of course, but I had. And, some months later, the IRS was sure to remind me. In fact, when I didn't reply to the letter they sent (which went to the same address as the forgotten W9), they put a levy on my bank account. They were determined to get their money. And they will.
Conversely, when I found out I'd forgotten to file on a W9 from '05 which would have entitled me to a refund, they weren't having it. Seems they only owe you for so long; but you owe them forever.
Anyway, between all this hullabaloo with the IRS and the recessionary media market, my bank account has fluctuated wildly. Sometimes it even fluctuates in the red. And the minute it does so, Bank of America has been there - with a $35 overdraft fee.
Lately though, BoA has gone one further. Instead of merely hitting me with a $35 overdraft fee when there's the odd accounting irregularity, they now put through charges even if there are insufficient funds to cover - and then they hit me with overdraft fees for those too. So, say, my monthly $11 Netflix charge comes through when I'm already overdrawn: I get to pay $46. Even better, BoA will hit me for charges that were made even before the account went in the red. So, say the Netflix bill comes through at 2pm and I've used my ATM card three times earlier in the day, they'll assess me overdraft charges for every transaction.
Over the six weeks BoA has charged me $420 in overdraft fees, I've paid $42 for two packs of cigarettes. $45 for $10 in gas. $50 for $15 worth of groceries. And when I inquire about any of these charges I get boilerplate gobbledygook like:
"Making a deposit or transfer after items have overdrawn your account will not prevent the items from being returned as unpaid or fees being assessed. The funds must be in the account before items are presented in order to avoid overdraft fees."
Oddly, BoA only accepts charges when there are two or more pending transactions and the new charge will overdraw my account. If there is no activity on my account, they won't put the charge through. Now if you ask me, that's downright underhanded. And it's decidedly unfair.
I don't even want to go into the many monthly fees that seem to be increased and/or tacked on willy-nilly every quarter.
And it irks me. Here I am, one of the taxpayers who helped give Bank of America billions of dollars; hell, helped them buy Merrill Lynch for Zeus' sake! And still they fleece me every chance they can get.
You'd think they'd be a little more grateful.
(Do you think Bank of America is bad for America?)