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it’s not a mistake if we already do everything rong

My plans for today included laundry, eating, maybe going to the nail shop, taking a nap, and whatever the female equivalent is of laying on the couch and scratching one’s balls.

Instead, the mail came. And in the mail there was a letter from PNC Bank’s collections department.

Oh, yes they did.

I haven’t blown up like that in awhile. I was shaking. I was screaming. I confessed to wanting to do very illegal things to every PNC branch in the city. I called several different numbers (because of course they kept bouncing me around) and bitched at every single customer service rep I talked to. I don’t normally do that, because I know that most people are just doing their jobs and trying to scrape by themselves. But I now have a pretty decent amount of contempt for all bank employees, since this is some divide and conquer bullshit. Give broke people a somewhat decent job screwing over other broke people, all the while gambling away their retirement funds…it all makes me sick.

But what I found out from one poor woman who had the shitty fate of talking to me was that when I settled my account once and for all (or so I thought) about a month ago, the money that I handed over never went through and I was once again responsible for $137.74. That amount includes a $29.95 fraudulent charge that I disputed, the investigation fee (since they somehow found in favor of the merchant, which is a whole other WTF), and a couple overdraft fees thrown in for good measure.

“So I give your institution money that I can’t afford to hand over and which your institution does not deserve, all in the name of just getting you out of my life, and you guys lost that money?”

“Well, ma’am…” she said WITH ATTITUDE.

“Oh, well, that’s a real crackerjack operation you guys are running over there. Seriously. Awesome fucking work. I’ll go to the branch AGAIN and settle this AGAIN.”

When I got to the bank, I sat down with a guy (let’s call him “Skippy”) I’d dealt with at least two other times in this debacle and who had been a douche to me before. I considered the possibility that I would leave that building in handcuffs and charged with assault and like, terroristic communist threats or something.

As Skippy explained to me, when I settled my account the last time, they sent the general ledger credit slip to their collections department and that department rejected the slip for some reason. Skippy insisted that I had done nothing wrong and could consider myself free and clear.

“Oh. So you guys made a mistake.”

“Eh, no, it’s not a mistake,” Skippy replied. The collections department rejects these slips for any number of reasons, like the teller didn’t sign her name clearly enough or didn’t list all of the information on the slip.

“So you guys made a mistake.”

“No,” Skippy insisted. They had done everything correctly with my payment, just in a way that resulted in me getting a threatening letter from the collections department.

“I’m sorry, Skippy. I may be a writer and not a financial whiz like you kids here, but that sounds like you guys made a mistake.”

Skippy, ever the optimist, maintained that they had fucked up in the correct manner, and that if I received any more letters detailing their stellar operations to let him know, so that he and I could again discuss the details of the awesome way that they continue taking money from me and being idiots.

What’s really fucked up is that there is no “closing” my account with them. If PNC insists that I arranged payment to a merchant through them, they will re-open my account to “honor their agreement,” once again putting me in arrears. And considering I already had one fraudulent charge to a business that I’d never heard of and never received anything from honored by PNC, it seems reasonable for me to worry that they have the power to conjure up any number of charges that they can honor and bleed me for money for who knows how long.

All in all, trying to close my account has cost me close to $2,000, mostly in fees and trying to clear the new and exciting negative balances that they keep dreaming up. I never did get my hands on my economic stimulus. All of that went to PNC.

Do you want to know why we’re in an economic crisis right now? Because the people who run our financial institutions and businesses are shitty business people. They are stupid. They don’t understand how economics work and think that their crafty methods of screwing people over are brilliant moves. We have a generation of failures running this country.

4 comments to it’s not a mistake if we already do everything rong

  • kent

    have you filed a complaint yet with the better business bureau? I’ve followed this business for months now, and it sounds like you straight up got screwed.
    Take all the paperwork, print out all your narrative accounts of their shitheadedness, and dump it in their lap.

    They even have a Pittsburgh-specific website: http://www.pittsburgh.bbb.org

    It may not get your money back, but the bank will at least have to deal with some grief. And it’s illegal to key all their cars.

  • NGS

    This makes me terrified to ever close a bank account again. I’m sorry you had/have to deal with this and I promise you that PNC goes on my list of banks never to do business with ever, ever, ever!!

  • Frank Provo

    “What’s really fucked up is that there is no ‘closing’ my account with them. If PNC insists that I arranged payment to a merchant through them, they will re-open my account to ‘honor their agreement,’ once again putting me in arrears.”

    Since I started working for a credit union’s collections department, I have bashed my head into this “problem” far too often. I don’t think there is a bank in the land that doesn’t have this agreement with Visa, Mastercard, or their ACH processor. Basically, once you give another institution your approval to take funds from your account, they can pull funds whenever they want and the bank MUST attempt to process the request — even if the account doesn’t have funds or is closed. For POS transactions, it’ll go through and put the account negative. For ACH, it’ll probably bounce but still sack someone with a fee.

    Dumb as hell, I know. But the thing is, by law, any company that you authorized to charge your account in the past MUST also honor your request to stop debiting a bank account of yours. If they don’t, they are breaking the law.

    PNC sounds a bit hard assed on the whole process. Where I work, we lean toward reversing fees unless the member is an outright cock or has shown reckless use of their account. We also don’t charge an investigation fee when a dispute arises. I personally hate the agreements the banks have signed that force them to honor pre-authorized charges even when an account has been closed or charged off. All the time, I see dormant accounts hit with insurance company charges and it turns out the insurance company didn’t properly switch the person’s payment source. No fun calling a customer to inform them their account is negative because some company didn’t do its job right.

    Kudos to you for keeping on this and trying to remedy it, despite PNC throwing you under the bus. Do you know if they reported you to Telecheck or ChexSystems? You may want to find out. If the account was negative more than a month, they may have. If they did, you’ll have problems using checks or opening checking accounts in the future (it’s tied to your driver’s license and SSN).

  • Katie

    Send this to http://www.theconsumerist.com. Youd be amazed at the response you’ll get from PNC corporate (and no Im not in anyway affiliated, it’s just worked for me before!)

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