Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Closing the account — again

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on May 12, 2012

“No, they would have just thrown it away.”   

I paused to take this in, and then said  “That does not reflect well on Bank of America.”

As the two or three people who read my blog may remember, I canceled my Bank of America credit card last November, in solidarity with Move Your Money. I cut the card with scissors, enclosed it with my zero-balance bill, wrote on the bill “Please close this account” and mailed it in the envelope provided with my final – I thought – bill.

Since I paid off the complete balance and stopped using the card, I thought everything was in order. Silly me. I continued to get mailings from BoA, but since I wasn’t using the card any longer, I didn’t pay much attention. Promotions of some sort. Occasionally I’d get a bill showing a zero balance and wondered what’s taking them so long to let their computers know I’m no longer one of them. And then last week I opened an envelope from B of A and saw that I owed $78.94, and that total included interest.

Ok, now I’m not happy. Forget the phone, forget the mail – I drive to a local branch of B of A and ask to see a bank officer.

“I canceled this credit card in November, and yet I see that I’ve been charged $50.95 for Sirius XM” I told them, “and there’s also a charge for Blue Mountain. And interest charges.I don’t understand why charges were posted in March to a card I canceled in November.”

“How did you cancel the card?” the officer asked.

“I cut it with scissors, enclosed the cut pieces in the pre-addressed envelope, and wrote a note on the bill saying Cancel this account.”

“Oh, that doesn’t close the account,” she said rather nonchalantly.

“Why not?”

“Because that department doesn’t have the authority to close accounts.”

I replied with something that seemed obvious to me, but then what do I know. “Then shouldn’t they have sent it to someone who does?” I asked.

“No, they would have just thrown it away.”

I paused to take this in, and then said “That does not reflect well on Bank of America.”

As it happened, I was in the local branch on the same day that the shareholders meeting in Charlotte drew crowds of protesters. About 750 people marched from three directions to the Bank of America corporate headquarters, and six people had been arrested by 3 pm, according to The Charlotte Observer.

They’re protesting Bank of America’s policies on foreclosures, and the bank’s support of the coal companies that extract coal using mountain-top removal, a practice that benefits a small number of corporations while destroying homes, properties, streams, mountains, and health.

And the lavish pay package for the CEO of  “an institution with the worst rap sheet in town.  You don’t have to be good at your job to earn seven million dollars in a year. All you need is a few friends in the right places — places like the Federal Reserve, the Justice Department and the Treasury Department,” says Richard Eskow.

But back to my charges – I learned that a recurring charge will still be honored even after an account is closed.  I had actually tried to close Blue Mountain, but had learned, like many other unhappy users, that it can’t be done.  So I thought, ok, let them charge my account and the charge will be denied, since the account is closed.   Wrong.

And Sirius XM? Well, it seems the only thing of interest that I can get on Sirius is Thom Hartmann (with lots of commercials) or Pete Dominick. I say or, instead of and, because they are scheduled at the same time. So I can hear one or the other. Time to cancel.  Of course, Sirius XM also has good classical music, a symphony station, pops, jazz, and news,  but we can get all that from local FM radio stations.

And even though I thought I had closed my BOA credit card in November, I guess I don’t mind adding to the numbers of accounts being closed on the day of the big protest. Not that my one credit card account will be noticed. But it’s kind of like voting for president – we know that our one vote isn’t going to make a difference, but we do it anyway.

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7 Responses

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  1. Jim Wheeler said, on May 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    The way BOA treated you, Helen, is of course outrageous. As it so happens I had a somewhat similar experience with them. For many years we had an excellent money market account with MBNA in Maryland, but they were bought by BOA a few years ago. As soon as that happened the interest rate dropped like a lead balloon, the statements got hard to decipher, and they began talking about various fees. I transferred the bulk of our money by electronic funds transfer, but I found that I couldn’t close the account that way because there was no way to precisely calculate the final amount to be transferred right to the penny. It took me couple of months and several phone calls (after going through telephone hell of course) before I got the account closed.

    In my opinion this kind of thing is exactly why the country needs the new bureau of consumer affairs. BOA’s and other big banks’ behavior verges on the criminal. All these people tooting their horns for “free markets” and excess regulations need to sign up for BOA accounts and get a taste of unregulated, rampant “capitalism”. It would be good for them.

    BTW, just as a matter of interest and speaking of Sirius XM, do you use it in your car or at home? Reason I ask is that there’s a lot better way to do it at home. There’s an app for the iPad called “Tunein Radio” that will get you virtually any station of any kind you want, any time of day. Of course you need the iPad and wi-fi, but monthly charges for Sirius can add up quickly. Just thought I’d mention it.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on May 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Jim, we have sirius in the car, not in the house.
      And don’t have ipad. But it’s good to know of the alternatives to consider.

  2. Steve Osborne said, on May 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    This kind of story makes me so mad. It happened to me, it happened to Jim (above), it happened to my girlfriend, it happened to everybody BUT YET, how come we can’t do anything about it? A couple of years ago, we heard this “nice” President telling us that credit card companies and banks were not going to be able to abuse us anymore, but nothing has changed.

    • Jim Wheeler said, on May 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Cmon, Steve. Surely you don’t think the president can simply wave a pen and make everything better. This stuff takes time, and usually some kind of compromise between the two parties in Congress, something in very short supply on the Hill lately. The GOP fights tooth and nail against “excessive regulation” and you see the result. Nevertheless, by something of a miracle Obama and his allies did manage to create a new agency that is beginning to help.

      In the meantime, I suggest the solution is to do what Helen and others are doing – close the bad account and spread the word.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on May 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      I had high hopes for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and for Elizabeth Warren as its director. But the Republicans in congress fought and succeeded in derailing her appointment, and then, if I recall correctly, fought financing the agency, and are still determined to oppose any effective leadership. I’m not optimistic about where we’re heading from here.

      • Jim Wheeler said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm

        I had forgotten the GOP threat to starve it of funding and I can’t seem to find information about that now. However, their web site is up and operating and OB was able to use a recess appointment to install a director for the agency. For now, it appears to be operating.

  3. Jim Wheeler said, on May 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Sorry – my link above doesn’t work on this blog. Here it is: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml

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