Not Your Neighborhood Bank
ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- I have been banking with Sovereign for a few years. For the most part I had been quite happy with the bank and their services, many of times the "courtesy" of allowing an account overdraw has saved my butt from running out of gas on late night rides home.. in those cases I have been more than happy to pay the 33.00 over draft fee. I know its not responsible banking but nowadays you have to get by any way you can. Last week though, the course of events have left me with a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the policies of the bank. A few days before my issue I had my rent in the bank plus another 40.00 or so. I wrote out the rent check leaving me in my account ledger the 40.00.(I am excellent at keeping my ledger up to date, balanced and its never more that a penny off) I bought something for 2.50 on Thursday night, then gas on Friday morning.
Friday afternoon I went on line and checked my account and it stated after the gas and 2.50 I had 27.83 available. I then called the phone banking and double checked to make sure the numbers matched my ledger, and online- they did to the penny. To go one more step I even got a person on the phone to see if my rent check had cleared. He informed me that all their systems "were at least a day behind", but as far as he could see the rent was not presented. I went to the Atm Machine and took out 20.00 and paid the 1.95 for the foreign ATM service fee leaving my ledger at 5.88. I once again called the phone banking and what was available to my account was the amount of my rent plus 5.88. I checked the ATM receipt and all the numbers matched. I called my electric company and set up a payment knowing that in 30 minutes I would walk into a branch and deposit 2 checks. (they were my fiancee's payroll and income tax return check which he had endorsed over to me before going to work.. he is not on my bank account, but the addresses on his 2 checks are the exact same as the one on my account down to the apartment number)
I know from "bank policy" that if a check is deposited in to an account via teller by two pm 200.00 would be credited to the account right away. doing it in 2 transactions would provide 400.00 right away. I walk into the bank and give the woman the two checks, the woman looks them over and tells me they can not be deposited into my account because my fiancee is not with me. She say I should bring him down and either put him on my account or "he can open his own account with us" I leave very aggravated since I called in the payment already. deciding that there is nothing I can do about it, I decide to deal with it on Saturday morning, because the worst case scenario will be that everything will clear the bank except the electric bill and I would just as always eat the 33.00 fee that gets attached to it. The next morning I look at my account and find that my account had been over drawn 378.00. When I view it in detail I see that the rent was posted and cleared, and then they have the electric bill posted and overdrawn (+33.00) then the 21.95 (+33.00) then 10.00 (+33.00) then 2.50 (+33.00). I call the call center and get a very sweet girl on the phone who asks her manager if the charges can be reversed.
She tells me to go to a branch and talk to someone there. I go to the branch in Belmont MA, and I speak with the woman. After explaining everything to her (including the attempt to make the deposit, which she says was "company policy" She prints out my account activity and tells me that "from the bank's point of view this looks completely justified" (of course it will... its their point of view) She offers to call the bank I opened my account at and see if they will fix it, but the manager is not there. She then gets off the phone and tells me the manager will look it over and decide, but they will most likely say no. I thank her for her time nicely, and she tells me in the future that may be "I should be more responsible with my bank account and ledgers. This ticked me off beyond belief because accord to every other source I checked, it was accurate.. down to the penny. I left angered and insulted but still thanked her for her time.
Later that afternoon my boyfriend calls numerous sovereign banks and asks various people what their policy is in regards to endorsing checks and having having a person deposit into an account he is not on and is not present for the deposit. The first one he called said "that is not a problem at all as long as no one is trying to cash it" My fiancee then explains what happens and the gentleman starts trying to back out of it saying "oh in THAT case then no.." and then hung up on him. Davis Square in Somerville said "no problem" East Somerville said "no problem" He even called Belmont and they said "no problem"!!! Winchester's branch had no idea what the policy was, and chelsea had no clue either. (nice to know that some people don't even know what the company policy is) I then decide to try calling the call center again, and I get another woman. she pulls up my account and states the same "on our end this looks completely justified" (At this point I am beginning to wonder if they have that phrase on posters all over the place.)
Never once losing my temper or even raising my voice I ask her to explain how this even makes sense. She tells me that the bank arranges things when the come through the system from the biggest amount to the smallest amount. Not in order of when a card was used, or a check. All biggest amount to the smallest. I ask her why (if that is the case) does the money get subtracted from the available balance for the debits. she explains that that are pending but not cleared. They take the money away from the balance until they clear, but if something comes in the same night for a larger amount than that item will get posted first and anything smaller will be posted after.
I feel that policy is a little off considering that something bought three days ago will be put after something that came through the night before, but that is their "policy". I appreciated the explanation no matter how unfair I thought it was, and then I asked who do I need to speak to on a higher level to talk about the overdraft charges. She then told me there was no point in speaking to anyone, because if anyone reviewed my account they would see I have a "bad history of overdrawing my account." I then explained that the times it happened I never once disputed it, because I assume responsibility for it. I told her I would pay the electric bill amount and the 33.00 right away, but for the time being I was not going to pay the other 99.00 in fees. I thanked her for her time and ended the call.
On Monday I got a call from the Lowell MA branch, and she told me my account was overdrawn and I needed to correct it right away. I did not bother explaining anything to her because the only answer I was going to get is "on our end this is completely justified" I asked her if the payment to the electric bill was going to be honored or reversed and sent back. She said she was unsure. I asked her if it was reversed and sent back would that take away the electric over draft (she said no)if it is honored I told her I would make arrangements to get this paid off quickly. She went in to explaining that the bank reserves the right to charge me the 5.00 a day until it is paid for up to 60 days. (I felt that was also snide and rude, which finally prompted me to be snide and a bit rude back) I told her I understood that, and I was willing to accept the penalty. She then went on to inform me that after 60 days the account would then go into collections. (I stated that I would pay on the account on a regular basis which would avoid that happening) After a moment of silence she then informed me that I would not be able to open an account at another financial institution until the balance was paid in full.. I then informed her that I had already had a second account at another bank that was in excellent standing, so that would not be a problem either.
So in the end I explained that if they returned my payment to the electric company I would pay them for the overdraft fees and close my account, as soon as I made the payment to the electric company.
This has been a long ordeal, that has been quite frustrating. I know few people look for complaints against banks before they look for one, which is scary. I figured I would write out my experience and hope someone may come across it. if you have tons of money to waste, or have the luxury of never having to check your balances then this bank is perfect for you. If you have a limited income, bills and rent to pay, kids to raise, and you fall in to the category of living paycheck to paycheck, then don't choose this bank. You will find that their fees and "policies" (and/or lack of knowledge by employees of the "policy")will cost you much needed money to pay for more important things like food, shelter, utilities and clothing!