tl;dr – Overdraft Transfer Fee can be removed in full once. Half removed second time. Don’t know what happens after that…yet. And always call your bank to try to get fees removed.
A combination rant and warning:
Last week, I was hit with an Overdraft Transfer Fee of $10. This is what Wells Fargo charges to transfer money from my savings account to my checking account when I messed up my math. In this case, the minimum $25 was transferred to cover the overdraft, plus the $10 fee. Why the fee exists confuses me because the process doesn’t cost the bank anything. If I were to initiate the transfer one day earlier, it would be free. The bank has some nice software that does it for me, but it costs $10 to use. If that’s not extortion, I don’t know what is. Anyway, that’s not really the point.
In the five+ years I’ve been doing business with Wells Fargo, this has happened once before. It turns out that history is important.
The first time this happened, I simply called Wells Fargo and the politely removed the charge. This is exactly what I expect when a customer in good standing requests a nonsense charge be removed.
I happened to be riding past the bank and needed to get cash, so I thought I’d stop in to kindly ask a banker to remove the more recent fee. After some clicking, typing, clicking, and more clicking, “Oh, it isn’t letting me remove the charge.” I call bullshit. (No, I didn’t actually say “bullshit.”) The banker explains I should call the customer service line because they might have different policies for removing those charges. I guess that’s the first red flag in what I now see as a carefully crafted plan to send customers like me on a wild chase, ending with a person whose job is to deal with customers like me.
So I get home and call Wells Fargo’s PMA line. (I’m a current PMA account holder, normally they get better service.) The first woman I talk to is very nice and explains those fees are waived for PMA customers, BUT she needs to transfer me to a PMA banker.
WAIT a minute, I thought I called the PMA line. “Oh, our phones have been acting up today and calls are going to the wrong places. I’m sorry you got caught up in that.” Wow, if that’s not a rehearsed lie…
Next on the line is burly banker. He asks what he can do for me. I explain simply that I’d like the $10 Overdraft Transfer Fee removed. “Yeah, I see you were charged $10 there. Unfortunately, we can’t remove the entire $10, just half.”
“Oh, when did that policy change?”
“It didn’t change, we don’t disclose these policies with customers.”
It turns out that BECAUSE Wells Fargo has removed this fee in the past, they won’t remove it today. So the fee is really just a “Learn Your Lesson Fee.” So I ask what happens if I get another fee and call to have it removed. “We don’t share that policy with customers.”
Wells Fargo is so ashamed of its policies regarding fees that it will not even disclose them to the customers with which the policies apply!
I agreed to removing half the fee. After I got off the phone, I remembered the first woman on the phone stated all those fees are waived for PMA customers; I wish I would have remembered that while I was still on the phone, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered much.
Ultimately, I’m asking for the Internet’s help in reverse engineering this wacky Secret Fee Policy. I don’t plan on finding out what happens on my next Fee Removal Call, but maybe somebody else out there already knows.
Post your experiences removing bank fees in the comments.