We saw the red C of Commerce Bank disappear not long ago, and in its place, the greenish TD sign popped up. Glen said, "Uh oh, that's a Canadian bank, and in Canada, TD is the worst bank."
I just want to take a minute to apologize — and publicly — to Glen, for my skepticism. It's not personal. It's just my nature. While I had no gripe with Commerce, I figured a Canadian bank HAD to be better than any American bank. I've been to Canada, and I'm sorry to say (for us) that Canadians have it much better than Americans do, with regard to customer service, civility, and common courtesy — everything that's lacking from most of our businesses and institutions.
I opened my account with Commerce in 2000. I was struggling to pay my hefty car payment, rent, utilities, and living expenses on my salary. Saving dough at that time wasn't going to happen, since I needed to pay the above-mentioned bills. So, I opted for Commerce's no-fuss free checking. I liked the late night and Sunday banking hours. I wanted access to my money.
A lot has happened since then; I'm no longer working in the corporate sector, and that terrible car payment is behind me — it's been years since it was paid off, and it still doesn't quite feel real. But my largest freelance client recently shipped most of its work off to Asia, without even a warning for me. And we have a mortgage and other bills these days. I still have that same checking account, but because my paychecks are far more sporadic these days, the balance — while never dipping below zero — fluctuates pretty wildly.
No biggie, right?
I noticed in December, TD hit me with a "cycle service charge" of $15. It didn't totally sink in, though, thanks to the birthdays in my family, the holidays, and the fact that we went to Canada for a few days. But then, it happened again in February; Glen noticed it on my statement, and he about hit the roof. He did some reading, and found that TD charges their customers every time their accounts dip below $100. I shouldn't feel like I should have to justify why sometimes that account has less than a hunge in it; it's just the way we roll here. I complained to the bank, and said it was outrageous that they'd do that, especially in these economic times. Certainly someone with less than a hundred in their account is really gonna feel what amounts to the theft of $15. And what if that penalty causes an overdraft, and all those associated fees? What a nasty snowball.
I was told, essentially, "tough shit." My account dipped all the way down to $26 for a day or so in February, and after the penalty, plunged to $11. They offered me another type of checking account, one that costs $3 a month, plus a fee for every check over 10 written each month. They took an oh-so-helpful peek in my records and mentioned that I tend to make online payment transfers more often than I write checks, so changing my checking account might make sense.
When I opened the account, I signed up for FREE checking, so I am not really interested in their $3 a month account, with a limit on how many checks I write, even though I know I don't write that many. Instead, Glen and I have been making sure to keep more than $100 in that account.
I received my March statement yesterday, and I was hit again with another $15 "cycle service charge." I went back through my history, and at no time did my account dip below $100, not even for a minute. I contacted them yesterday and demanded my money back. They complied, but suggested again that I transfer my account to that $3/limited check option.
I'm not going for it. Glen is right. TD sucks. Why should I pay them ANYTHING to hold my money? With the amount I have in that account, it makes far more sense to keep my money in a shoe box in the closet*, and they can pound salt right up their skinny Canadian asses, eh.
* Yeah, I shouldn't announce that I have cash stored in the house, right? Whatever. Our closets are totally jam-packed full of stuff. So, if you can find your way to said shoe box, in one of our many messy closets, the $27.89 is all yours!