Thank you Crikey, you’re my hero. I had post-dated a cheque but the bank cleared it two days before it should have, sending my account into overdraft. The bank paid the cheque but slugged me $45 for the overdraft. The next day an $80 cheque was bounced — and the bank slugged me $50. If the first bigger cheque had not been cleared there would have been enough cash for the second one. The next day my pay went in which would have meant enough for the bigger cheque too. I did everything right — the bank stuffed up and expected me to pay. With Crikey’s article fresh in my mind I confronted the bank. My teller was very helpful but the supervisor was trying to get out of it. I explained the fees were not enforceable and used your analogy that just because you tell a person you’re going to hit him doesn’t mean you can do it. A day later the bank wrote to me and told me they’d put the $95 back into my account … so there’s my Crikey subscription paid for next year. Whoo hoo. — Brian Mitchell
I had a similar experience with St George waiving a $25 fee on my credit card for not paying the minimum monthly payment on time. I paid the account in full a day or so after that date but found the $25 fee on my next account. I rang them up, all apologetic (it was my error) and they promptly said “OK we’ll waive it this time but next time it will stand etc etc” I was actually thankful then (you don’t often get those sort victories), but now I’m less so. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. — Peter Rule Yippee, just read your article on bank fees and rang NAB about a $30 fee we had been charged for overdrawing our account by $90. Was told to go to our local branch with photo ID and it would be reversed. — Lynn Grove  I have always successfully challenged any kind of penalty fees on the few occasions these have been levied. In the past it always seemed to need a request to speak to the supervisor or even their customer complaints section before the refund was agreed to. Lately they seem to be much more prepared to waive them without having to argue the point. I have in turn asked the bank for a fee when the error is theirs, usually $35 or $50 and they have paid up several times. Their first reaction is disbelief but when they know I’m serious they behave differently. Sometimes I’ve had to use the tactic of telling them I’m in dispute and asking what the dispute resolution process is. Mid-level supervisors and managers hate that, they know it will get escalated to area management and will generally accede to avoid that happening. No-one it seems wants to explain why they couldn’t fix a small customer satisfaction issue. — David My Commonwealth Bank savings account went $40,000 in the red after I failed to cover an EFT deduction. I covered it as soon as I found out [the bank called me]… but it resulted in $105 in fees. These were all refunded after a quick phone call. In fact — they offered to refund them before I even had a chance to ask! — Anonymous Your reports surfaced just after NAB charged me $30 for being a few days late on a credit card payment. I was late because I had not received a statement, but when I first asked at the branch I was told it was my bad luck. When I returned with a letter saying I thought the demand for $30 had no legality, the $30 was refunded. Purely for goodwill, of course. The bank official said the branch had received a circular on this issue which she had not yet had time to read, but she was well aware of the customer revolt in the UK. — Joe Boswell I have on a number of occasions rung the bank and requested a reversal of bank fees, particularly on my cheque account which I rarely use so keep a small balance in it and it sometimes overdraws. Polite but insistent — fees always reversed. Same with ANZ — got a new credit card with the $50 annual fee already on the first statement without spending a cent. Left it until I used the card and got a $50 late payment fee!! Rang up incensed and they reversed it cheerfully. — Mick Slocum
Call your bank and tell them that you never received your statement in the mail and hey presto late payment fees are refunded. — Rick
After opening an internet banking account linked to my main business account I miscalculated twice within a three month period. The overdraw on each occasion was under $1,000 and rectified the same day. Each was charged at $38 as an “Honour Fee”. On receiving the second I rang and asked for both to be reversed…  There was much delay as [the gentleman] claimed he needed to refer to his supervisor, several times. The upshot was they claimed that they could only credit the second of the charges which they did. The first charge could not be credited as it was over three months old. After pointing out it was in fact just under three months, they then claimed that they are only authorised to credit one charge (pick a reason, any reason). To take it further I would need to personally speak with my local branch manager. The manager was away the day I called but my message would be passed for her to phone me. I’m still waiting. Time for an email to St George I think. — Barry Smith I recently complained about a late payment fee to the ANZ Bank. The fee was imposed because I had missed a credit card payment, however, after checking I realised that I had not received the previous month’s credit card statement. At first I was told that there was nothing they could do as it is not their fault I didn’t receive the original statement, and as I had had a fee reversal in the past, I was told I was not entitled to another one (the previous reversal was due to the bank computers being down when I made a payment and it was processed a day too late). After insisting on speaking with someone else in charge, the customer service representative came back to me and told me they would reverse the charge (this was without speaking to the Manager), but that would be the last time for 12 months! How many people that don’t follow these issues up with the bank are being ripped off! — Matt Cater I rang the Commonwealth Bank to query a $35 overdrawn account penalty fee charged in December when I couldn’t remember having been overdrawn. It turned out the charge was for a brief (1 day) overdrawn period in September, for which interest (12c) and an overdrawal approval fee ($30) had already been charged. The fee was reduced to $9 but still represents “money for nothing”. — Sonja Davie Those who’ve recently had their penalty fees waived were extremely lucky. Sometime last year I, for one day, dropped a little below $500 in my account and was slugged an outrageous penalty fee by Police & Nurses Credit Union. I rang to complain and was basically told it was in the Terms & Conditions, so tough. I’ve been with them since 1984/85, have a stellar credit rating with them, but they couldn’t a rats … I’m only sticking with them now because they’re all much of a muchness these days, and I figure I should do OK in any demutualisation (or whatever it is for credit unions) — and rest assured, I’ll be voting to sell no matter what. — Crowey Don’t bother trying to get your late payment fee deducted with BankWest — I can see why a recent study rated them one of the worst credit cards going around. You can make a payment off your credit card in a month but if it is not within their so called “statement period” which is about 14 days from issue of the statement for that month you get hit with the $35 fee. If you make a payment within the 14 days but they deem it was for the previous month’s payment they will slug you again. Funnily enough I had a recent (separate) problem with AMEX and after a series of phone calls they offered to credit back the “interest charges” on my Charge Card of approx $550, even though I was in the wrong and had paid the amount after the due date. — Rob About 18 months ago over a five month period I had a very frustrating time with Westpac, and after an off the cuff comment from a bank officer that I appeared to have been overcharged some interest and fees I sought further advice, but to no avail. Eventually I lodged a complaint which was referred back to the Head of Complaints at Westpac. During the process I noted that I would abide by the outcome of his research, which took some months. The end result was that Westpac found that, due to an error on their part, over several years I had racked up over $1,100 in previously undebited fees — a result I ultimately did not dispute. I offered to pay the money but indicated that I would be reviewing my banking arrangements. Westpac immediately offered to waive the fees on the understanding that I remained a Westpac client. I remained with Westpac, and the $1100 was waived. Although my initial dealings with Westpac were extremely frustrating, to say the least, I found the Head of Complaints to be extremely courteous and professional, and we ended up with a sensible, rational outcome. — Anonymous I once had a credit amount on one of my credit cards (I’d overpaid one month), so subsequently I withdrew most of the positive balance from the credit card at an ATM. The bank charged me a fee for a cash advance from a credit card (even though it was my own money). After some protests over the phone, this was reversed. — Wayne Robinson A few years ago I withdrew more money than I had in my savings account, and was hit with a $30-something penalty. Since it wasn’t a credit account, I wasn’t happy that I’d been allowed to make the withdrawal in the first place. When I went in to the NAB to complain, they brought up some kind of options page on their computer and changed a setting — now if I try the same thing again, the ATM will tell me I have insufficient funds and refuse the transaction. It’s nice to know that the option is there if you ask for it, but surely it should be the default setting? — Robert Corr I don’t know whether this qualifies as forgiveness, but I was pleased at the outcome. A few years ago my bank lost an overseas cheque I had deposited a few days previously. They phoned and asked me to chase up another one from the UK-based client. Having just been stung by the bank on some ridiculous tedium charges, I informed the bank rep that I would do so, but that there would be fees. I guesstimated my costs: time at $100 per hour; overseas phone calls; cost of cancelling the cheque; cost to client of re-issuing another; cost of courier fees from the UK to Australia; cost to re-deposit; all in all, I invoiced them for nearly $300. The only thing they queried was the International Courier cost, which I had apparently over-guesstimated by around $15. Result, I got around $285 for chasing up their lost cheque. Tip, just send them an invoice for anything you think is an overcharge or a cost you have incurred in doing their bidding, on anything. — Duncan Several years ago a bank whose name starts at the end of the alphabet lost a cheque of mine. It was deposited by the payee in another bank, who had a record of receiving it, but when sent back to my bank for clearance it vanished without trace. After several months I received a letter from my bank asking if I would please write another cheque so the funds could be cleared from my account (the payee had demanded and received his money from his bank). I sent my bank a nice letter, under the letterhead of “The Banking Customer Corporation” (Trading as BankCusCo) explaining that I’d be happy to write another cheque, subject to the BankCusCo schedule of fees and charges. I used the bank’s own schedule of fees for issuing Bank Cheques, administration and postage fees, handling fees, late presentation fee etc. The original cheque was for $210 — I sent them a replacement cheque for $172.50 being the amount after deduction of the BankCusCo fees and charges. Never heard another word from my bank on this matter. — Michael Cooper Crikey welcomes any insight that bank insiders can bring to the penalty fee situation — and any other matters. Email [email protected]

Peter Fray

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