On April 5, 2010, I cashed a live check from my employer at a Sovereign ATM in Boston. The check was for $884, and usually the Sovereign ATM statements tell you both your actual balance, and your available balance, which it did. I then went home to my sister's for Easter weekend and made several purchases well under $884, not realizing that it would take three business days for my check to clear. (In the past, I had had direct deposit to my checking account, but with my new job, the direct deposit hasn't kicked in yet.)
The following week I was overdrawn in my account, but couldn't figure out why I was missing $280. When I received my monthly statement on my checking account, it showed that I was charged an Unavailable Funds Fee of $35 EIGHT times for purchases I had made after depositing my live check. I went to a Sovereign and explained that I had clearly made a mistake and wouldn't have intentionally overdrawn my account so much. (Who would?) I also said that I had been with the bank for many years and had been a loyal customer. Since I had cashed a check into my account that was on record, could they refund my fees?
The branch manager I spoke with said that Sovereign never returns bank fees unless it is an error on their part. Then she told me she would "do something I never do" (I'm sure that's part of her script with customers) and return HALF of what I had lost - $140. I agreed to this although I said it was not the best outcome.
I then asked if I could have the overdraft mechanism on my account stopped so that I would simply be denied at a store if there was no money in my account to cover the purchase. The branch manager seemed reluctant to do this and instead offered to open a line of credit for me, where the overdraft fee would only be $10. I agreed, pending approval of my credit, which will take up to a week. And now I am having buyer's remorse on that, because I'm not entirely sure this "line of credit" will ultimately benefit me or Sovereign more. What do you think?
Although I clearly made a mistake when I deposited a live check that took longer to clear than I anticipated, what irks me is that Sovereign ALLOWED me to rack up EIGHT overdraft penalties. What if I had made 20 small purchases before I knew what was happening?
Clearly, Sovereign makes a good income stream on its fees. But what they should do is have a limit to how many times a customer can overdraw their account before their card stops working. If I had been denied at a register while attempting to make my fifth purchase, that would have signaled to me that I had a problem with my account. It seems to me that Sovereign is in the business of making money and not protecting its customers if it can make buck$ off of them.
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 overdraft fee. I know its not responsible banking but nowadays you have to get by anyway 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 online 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 into 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 cannot 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 overdrawn 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 maybe "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 fiance 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. ** 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 overdraft (she said no). If it is honored I told her I would make arrangements to get this paid off quickly.
She went into 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 into 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!
MASSACHUSETTS -- I was hit with 14 overdraft fees of $35 each in two days time. I was told when signing on to the "opt in" program, I would have the OPTION of approving a "fee" if I wanted to make a transaction. This did not happen. Because I was not informed, my small purchases while holiday shopping all incurred fees. I had a direct deposit the next day which should have taken care of any over drafts and I should have been WARNED that I would potentially have fees to my transactions. My McDonalds dinner for $7 cost me $42. My daughters book I bought her for $8 with a store coupon cost me $43.
I was also told when signing on that it would approve only one or two transactions if over draft possibilities. This did not happen. I was shocked to see over $470 or so FEES and paid the bank back those fees the next day. I did not want anymore fees to incur so I paid it. The lady in the bank could credit me only $70 and that was it??? What kind of bank does that? Where is THEIR responsibility as a bank giving you fair warning. I don't ever bounce transactions and would have NEVER made a chicken sandwich purchase KNOWING IT WOULD HAVE A FEE... outrageous and ridiculous and silly to see 14 fees? What is that?
They have no responsibility at all to INFORM YOU? Even my children's bank accounts were incurring monthly $3.50 cent fees WITHOUT ME KNOWING IT until I looked further into our statement. I put a lousy $10 a week in their accounts. I was told that a direct deposit at least once a month would cover any fees and THAT WAS INCORRECT INFORMATION. It seems it is called a "transfer" into an account and it has to be done from one of your other accounts? HUH???
WALK AWAY AND DO NOT WORK WITH SOVEREIGN BANK. THEY HAVE BEEN A HEADACHE FROM THE BEGINNING. Now I have to go and fight for my money with whom I don't know. I did find there is a class action suit going with **.
LAQNSDALE, PENNSYLVANIA -- My review is about Sovereign Bank and their overdraft fees. I overdrew my account by about $19 a week ago. No one from the bank called me to tell me that there was a problem with the account. As a result my husband and I kept using the account to pay bills. Well guess what, we have been slapped in the face with 16 $33 overdraft fees. I am so angry right now it is not even funny. I wish I could use some expletive words but I won't. We have a baby on the way.
Is this the way they treat someone they think of as a good customer? I am paying this debt off and closing all accounts with them. All take what is left of our money to a credit union. I am totally done with the banking system and it's robbery of blue collar workers.