I banked for years with Washington Mutual Bank. Even before they moved to the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Newport I was using their services. I was sorry when Chase took over their accounts, and when I physically went into the bank for the first time I thought I had walked into a gaming casino. All the gold, all the glass, this wasn’t “my” bank. What was missing was the tinkling of the coins announcing a jackpot!
Chase told us – at least me – over and over that there would be few, if any changes, to the Washington Mutual style. And, for the most part, that was true for the past year. But the letter I received yesterday changed all that. On the envelope was stated, “Important information about your Chase checking account(s).”
In the last year I have received similar correspondence from Chase. One was an encouraging letter to sign up to pay bills on line and get the chance of having my name pulled out of a “hat” and having the bill paid by Chase (odd, since I use on-line banking already and have for years). Another time there was a bank promotion and I was directed to talk to the folks at my friendly Chase Bank for some money-saving ideas. I went to my “friendly” bank, but they knew nothing about the promotion and were not able to check into it, they said. “Call the 800 number” – which I did and was promptly told to talk to those friendly folks at my branch.
This new letter starts out – “Thank you for banking with Chase, we truly value your business. (sic)” (A run-on sentence, to boot.)
It went on to say, “We wanted to let you know about some upcoming changes to your account, INCLUDING THE ADDITION OF A NEW MONTHLY SERVICE FEE.”
How nice of them to let me know this. They gave me several ways of avoiding the fee –
- Have one direct deposit of $500 a more each month or
- Keep a minimum daily balance of $1500 or more in the checking account or
- Keep an average balance of $5000 or more in a combination of deposit accounts with Chase and/or investment accounts or
- Pay $25 or more in qualifying account fees
If I do not qualify for one of the above I will have a $10 monthly service fee apply. It is so good to know that I will “ . . . not have to pay the new monthly Service Fee in any statement period during which you meet any of these criteria.”
Guess what? I don’t meet any of the above criteria. I called the number on the letter (1-866-610-7745) and asked how I go about canceling my account. The man I spoke to said, “don’t you have a direct deposit sent to the bank for $500 or more?” I said “no”. He said “don’t you have at least $1500 in your checking account?” I said “no.” “Well,” he said, “between all the accounts (ALL?) you have at Chase don’t they equal at least $5000?” He must have thought I was a complete idiot and couldn’t read the letter Chase sent out, because I again answered “no”. I had already answered “no” in my own mind as I was reading the letter. I didn’t give him a chance to explain to me what the $25 for a qualifying account fee was, because I don’t pay $25 to Chase for anything.
I again asked my question: How do I close out my account(s) before the service fee goes into effect on February 8th 2011. He told me that I can go into the bank and talk to the folks there – remember them? They could not answer my questions of a year ago. What makes me think they could answer my question a year later? I can cancel on the telephone as long as it is done before Feb. 8th.
Right. I am going to cancel my account on the telephone? And how am I going to get my $125 that I always keep in my checking account? Will that be before – or after – they assess the new fee? No way. My father didn’t raise any dummies – (my mother might have) – I was not going to fall for that line.
Here is what I am going to do. Around January 15th, I will go to the bank and take out all the monies I have in any accounts I have there. I will take the money in cash. I will then deposit it to my Credit Union account – Mission Federal – and on January 16th I will again enter the bank to close out all accounts. Not for one extra day will I let them keep my money, as small as the account may be.
Chase has certainly been convenient. But there is a Mission Federal Credit Union kiosk in the same parking lot as Barrons, Baskin Robbins, across from the Genie Car Wash. There is a MFCU on Linda Vista Road just up from Morena Blvd. and Costco; I can use my ATM card at any of the Federal Credit Unions free of charge. Who needs Chase?
That’s my plan. What’s yours?