Regions/Amsouth Bank Informative - Suggestions for improvement of the bank's Checking Services
LITHIA, FLORIDA -- This is a letter I recently sent to Regions/Amsouth Bank. The sad thing is that their policies and procedures are standard for the industry. Perhaps if enough people contact the right organizations, things will change:
To Regions Bank
"Earlier this week, at the age of 52, I experienced for the very first time in my life, the humiliating experience of having three checks on my account returned to the payees for insufficient funds.
First of all, I am guilty. As such, I do not want a letter of explanation regarding your policies and why you returned my checks. I assure you that, having nearly 30 years of banking experience myself, I fully understand your policies and procedures. I also understand why the checks were returned according to those policies and procedures. According to your current policies and computer procedures, you had every legal right to do so, and I was in the wrong for trying to be sure my bills were paid when they were due. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on Paytrust, my online provider, delivering the checks three days before their published estimated delivery date. But that’s my fault, not yours.
The true purpose of this letter is to suggest changes in your computerized check return procedures which would be of benefit to your customers and probably more profitable to your stockholders in terms of lowered costs and greater customer retention, if not actual satisfaction.
1. In my recent experience, three checks were returned to payees for insufficient funds. This is because the four checks presented for payment on 11/28/06 were listed by the bank in the order of highest amount to lowest amount. Whether this was by design, or by coincidence, the order resulted in three checks being returned unpaid. If they had been listed in order of lowest to highest, a process requiring a simple sort function in your computer system available since computers first appeared, only two checks would have been returned unpaid. The result of this would have been:
a. An NSF fee to me of $72.00 instead of 108.00.
b. The need for me to only have to deal with two unpaid checks rather than three.
c. Savings to the bank in terms of the costs of returning an additional check.
d. Savings to the bank in terms of the reduced time and effort spent by the local branch staff assisting an irate customer to correct two NSF problems instead of three.
e. The bank would have extended payment on two checks totaling $265.00 instead of the one check for $321.00, which they paid instead. This would have resulted in $56.00 less expended by the bank.
2. While the checks were presented, I believe at midnight on 11/28/2006, my husband’s paycheck hit the account AND WAS AVAILABLE for use at 12:01 AM on the morning of 11/29/06. Yes the payment was late, BUT on the date the checks were returned, the funds WERE in the account and available. Those funds could have been used to pay the overdrawn checks. A simple computer program to check the available funds before final release of the NSF checks on 11/29/06 could have prevented return of the checks. The result of this would have been:
a. Overdraft fees charged. This would still result in the $72.00 - $108.00 income to the bank.
b. Savings to the bank for the costs involved in returning the NSF checks when it wasn’t necessary.
c. Significantly reduced time and effort spent by the local branch staff assisting an irate customer to correct NSF checks that didn’t have to happen. Trust me, a customer is much more likely to accept the overdraft fees, without significant complaint, if the checks were not returned.
Finally, and perhaps most important, in this day and age of mega-banks, with total computerization and dehumanization of the entire process, the above changes could be viewed as returning a bit of that humanity to a very humiliating struggle for consumers to have the right to some control over their own finances. Since local branch managers, like [Name Removed] at AmSouth Bank-FishHawk Branch, no longer have any control or leeway to assist customers in this manner, perhaps the humanity could be installed into the computer.
Thank you for your time in reviewing this letter. Again, I do not expect a reply. However, I would appreciate your careful consideration of the above suggestions and your filing of this letter with your Community Reinvestment Act files for access by other consumers at their request.