Don’t Be a Mule: Fees

by David Bakke

wells fargoOver the summer, I took advantage of one of those online checking account deals where they give you a cash bonus for simply opening up a checking account. I made a quick $50 doing it, and thought I did a pretty good job with the whole thing.

It didn’t require me to have any minimum balance, didn’t require me to leave the account open for any length of time-there were really no strings attached. And of course I was sure to ask if there were any set-up fees, activation fees, monthly fees, inactivity fees, and any fees whatsoever. I was assured there were none. I guess I can go ahead and say that the account was opened with Wells Fargo.

So, I opened up the account waited until the cash bonus showed up. The bonus was $50 and my required opening balance was $100. There aren’t any Wells Fargo branches where I live, so I was only able to withdraw $140 thru an ATM card (the withdrawal needed to be in multiples of $20). So, I had a balance of $10 left in the account, and I had already made my $50.

Well, at this point, I basically forgot about the account. At some point in time, I knew I would have to close it and get my last $10 back, but there was no need to be in any kind of hurry.

I decided to check the account the other day when I was preparing to do my taxes. Well, guess what? To my shock and chagrin, I found that my account had a negative $5 balance. After further investigation, I found that they had charged me a $5 inactivity fee for the last three months.

Well, I despise fees (and you should too). Fees of any kind. They are simply just a waste of money. Banks, cell phone companies and the like are notorious for them. When I saw these fees on my account, my blood began to boil.

Now, the “old” financial me probably would have just thought that it was only $15 and I should just send them the $5 and close the account. Well, the “new” was about to blow a gasket! I specifically asked them when I opened the account if there were any fees, and I was told they weren’t. So, I went into my “dispute” mode. I thought of everything I would say when I called to inquire about the charges, with raising my voice definitely being a strong possibility.

I called their customer service number and was told that there were in fact “inactivity” fees. Well, I told the person that I was never made aware of any fees, and I would like to get them reversed or taken off or whatever. As it turns out, I never even needed any of my so-called “heavy ammunition”. The CS rep easily took the charges off, told me what I needed to do to avoid them in the future, and, without very much stress or strain or confrontation, I had my $15 back.

Here is the moral to the story. First, Wells Fargo is not a bunch of rabid savages out to take any money that they can get their hands on. I actually gained a good deal of respect for them after my situation. Not too much respect, mind you, because I was never informed of the fees in the first place. The more important moral is this: You need to fight back!

You don’t think that it’s by design that these charges are minimal? There are small, because these big banks know that most people won’t fight them over it. Multiply the $15 they almost got out of me times the thousands of customers they have, and you get an idea of how much money they generate by this trickery.

Once again, kudos to Wells Fargo for a job well done-I had really expected a fight over this one. Finally, fight back on those fees! Don’t sign up for anything that has them in the first place, and when anybody, I mean anybody, tries to sneak them in on you, fight back with a passion.

Do you have a “fee” horror story? Share it below.

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news @ making money quick money » Don't Be a Mule: Fees
January 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm


1 Robert J. Fischer January 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I think hotels are the worst for this. You check out and a month later you get a charge on your credit cardfor $8 for a minibar charge when you know you never ate any of the $3.50 potato chips or drank any of the $6 bottled water. Sometimes it best to give them a cash deposit that you can get back at check out.

2 David January 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm


You are so right–I just paid an extra $6 for nothing at a hotel on Florida. It took so long for me to even get someone to talk to about it, that I just left in disgust.

Thanks for the comment

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