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I’m Just a Number at Chase Bank

I'm Just a Number at Chase Bank

'Upset Business Man" by nuttakit on freedigitalphotos.net

I am was just a number at Chase bank.

For about 9 years I banked with Washington Mutual and had no problems whatsoever. For the last 3 or so years I’ve been banking with Chase and had no problems, until this year.

The Beginning

I walked into my local Chase branch today with high hopes that they would understand my plight. The checking account that I held with them was an emergency checking account with about $900 in it. The truth is, I had attempted to close my account in 2010, but the banker that I spoke to at this location was pleasant and they talked me into keeping the account open with some emergency money in it “just in case.” They’re big pitch was that they had branches all over the United States and that there were no maintenance charges or minimums. I happily kept that account open.

Since that account was an emergency account, I didn’t keep up with it. After a few months Chase locked me out of my own online account due to inactivity. I didn’t think twice about this since I had no reason to log in to my emergency checking account. I was smart enough to set up text messaging so that I would be alerted to any transactions in case there were unauthorized charges. A few days ago I was alerted to a charge and immediately called Chase to regain access to my online account.

After logging in, I was surprised to see 3 months worth of maintenance charges. I knew about the debit card limitations that the politicians had enacted into law and I knew that banks were trying to find new ways to maintain their profitability. I figured the 12 years that this account had been open would amount for something and I would be able to get those maintenance charges back. Boy, was I wrong!

At the Bank

I sat down with one of the banking representatives. He was very professional and curteous and told me that he had a $35 limit to the amount that he could credit back. I told him I was fine with this since the charges amounted to a total of $36. I joked that the $1 difference would be the penalty I paid for not reading all the documentation that was sent about my account being changed. I admitted that it was my mistake, but I hoped they would understand my situation. He went to talk to his manager because the last maintenance charge was more than 60 months old and he needed authorization to refund it. I wrote out a check for $1,000 in front of him and signed it since I needed to get my account above the minimum to avoid the maintenance charge.

No Trust

Unfortunately he came back with bad news. The manager was unwilling to refund the last $11 worth of maintenance charges because it was more than 60 days old. I told the representative that I was willing to split up my direct deposit as I had done in late 2010, but I felt like I was buying a car at this point. All I wanted was my hard earned $35 back. The manager did not trust that I would do what I said and I was told that they wanted to see the direct deposit go through first. I entertained this thought. I asked them if they could offer a signed letter stating the conditions and the representative said they could not. At this point I am furious and starting to shake.

I was willing to do what the manager said, but I wanted to be assured that they would give me back my $35. They couldn’t even provide me with any assurance! This was getting a bit personal since they didn’t want to trust me and I couldn’t trust them. They had started off by saying they could give me back $35 and then they took that back. There was no way I could trust them after that.

In the end I closed my account and destroyed the check that I had written and endorsed for $1,000. They can keep my $36, but not my $900.


  • I laid out my situation, told him this was an emergency checking account, and that I had tried to close it once before but was talked into keeping it open by an employee at that branch
  • I wrote and endorsed a check after I was told that $35 out of $36 was refundable
  • The manager changed her mind in the middle of it all
  • I offered to split up my direct deposit as an incentive so I wouldn’t have to close the account
  • They did not trust that I would do so
  • I couldn’t trust them after they got my hopes up and changed their mind
  • My account was closed

Risk/Reward Analysis

There’s a risk/reward lesson here that I wanted to outline. I’m perplexed at the fact that the manager was willing to let me go as a customer over $36. This decision cost her branch about $900 instead of $36. I understand that she didn’t want to trust me, but lets do a bit of risk/reward analysis here.

Worst Case for Chase

Here’s the worst case for the bank. I get my $35 back and deposit $1000. I turn around and close the account after everything has cleared. They’re out $1000 + $35 + 900 = $1935.

What Happened

This is what happened. I didn’t get my $35 back and I didn’t deposit $1000. I closed my account right there and then. I consider the $1000 a lost opportunity cost. They’re out $1000 + 900 = $1900.

What Would Have Happened

If they would have trusted me, I would have been able to get my $35 back and deposited $1000. For the sake of keeping the math simple, I am going to leave out the direct deposit numbers. They gain $1000 + direct deposit.

  • Risk:  $1935 – $1900 = $35 + unsatisfied customer
  • Reward:  $1000 + direct deposit + satisfied customer
  • What Happened:  They lost $900 and I am hesitant to ever do business with Chase or recommend Chase again

The numbers can be tweaked to be more accurate, I know. The fact of the matter is, no matter how you tweak the numbers, the decision that this particular branch manager made was a bad business decision. I would think that keeping customers is more important than giving back three month’s worth of maintenance fees.

Categories: Banking, Personal Finance
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