Why Your Customers Are Way Less Excited About "Courtesy Pay" Than You Are.

For years, overdraft fees have been the bane of my existence. 

When I was a young, fresh out of high school college student, I opened my first debit card account with a bank. 

Since I didn't have much money in the first place, the only time I used my card was to withdraw money at the ATM and to get balance inquiries.  One week near the end of my first year, I received a notice that I was overdrawn by about $140. Because of my aforementioned lack of funds (I lived on campus, had a meal plan, and my only expenses were an occasional meal off campus once or twice a month) I knew something was amiss.

On my next trip home I had an appointment with the same woman who had helped me open the account. Gone was the perky, helpful service rep who had guided me through the steps necessary to get my card. When I informed her that their ATMs consistently told me I had plenty of money in my account, she told me that it was my fault that I was overdrawn and that I shouldn't count on their ATMs to show me an accurate reading of my funds.

So of course I paid the balance and closed the account that day.

As of August 15, "overdraft protection" is no longer automatic; financial institutions must get your consent to opt-in for this service, which is less of a gesture of goodwill towards customers and more of a $38 billion side business.

Since the legislature has been slowly looming, my mailbox has been inundated with direct mailers (and you KNOW how I feel about those) telling me that I have the oppurtunity to "opt-in" to something called courtesy pay.

Now, I know marketing speak. I studied it for a few minutes in college. Courtesy pay is simply another term for overdraft fees, but! The word courtesy is in it! It can't be farther away from the word fee!

This is stupid.

No one - and I mean NO ONE that I know (and I know a lot of people - check my credentials) thinks overdraft fees are a courtesy. However, we do think its kind of sneaky that you persist in trying to foist this moneymaker on us.

How can you do better? Do like Coastal 24:

We're doing our part to put an end to "$30 cups of coffee."

On August 15, we began offering a new overdraft forgiveness program. Instead of getting a $28 fee each time you overdraft, Coastal charges a fee of just one cent per overdraft, provided you either:

  • correct the overdraft before 11:00 PM that day or,
  • had a small overdraft that does not take your end-of-day account  balance into the negative by more than $10.

Any account that remains negative by more than $10 after 11:00 PM will still be charged a fee of $28 per overdraft.

This is rawkstar. Do this. TIMES A MILLION.

Now, for all the proponents of "courtesy pay."

If forced "courtesy pay" is so awesome, why did you wait until it was illegal before you gave me a choice of whether or not I wanted it?


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