Illinois Teen Blindsided by Major Bank Fees

by | December 14, 2011 at 9:59 PM | General

A lesson in responsibility turned terribly wrong for Melinda Ganziano and her son Daniel after the 18-year-old ended up owing nearly $230 in bank fees on an account that only held $5.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Melinda convinced her son to open his first checking account with the local TCF bank in order to teach him more about managing his finances.

But the experiment quickly turned ugly when 18-year-old Daniel stopped paying attention to the funds in his account after discovering he was unable to retrieve the $4.85 from an ATM.

The teen left the account all but dormant until he received a letter on October 6 saying that he had been charged a $9.95 “monthly maintenance fee” because his account did not contain enough money.

The $9.95 fee, which Granziano was informed of six days after the money was taken out, caused his account to be overdrawn by $5.10.

Daniel was informed that TCF policy is to charge any account overdrawn by more than $5 a fee of $28 a day.

Daniel told his mom about the banking dilemma, and the pair quickly paid TCF a visit to close the account.

However, the bank attendant told them that they would have to pay the fees accumulated on the account, a total of $229.10, in order to close it.

Melinda requested that the fees be waived because of the obvious error, but TCF said they would only take off one of the $28 charges.

After several unsuccessful phone calls back and forth with TCF corporate, Melinda begrudgingly paid the $229.10, requesting to speak to a supervisor. She was told someone would call her back to address her concerns.

Melinda was never contacted by the bank.

“They would just not cooperate,” she told ABC News. “We were trying to teach him the right thing. If he had overdrawn by himself I would have made him pay the fees, but it wasn’t him.”

Melinda eventually contacted Chicago Tribune writer Jon Yates, who publishes a weekly “What’s Your Problem” column, to take her issue with TCF public.

Soon after took on her story, Melinda was contacted by a TCF bank representative who agreed to refund her in full.

Jason Korstange, a representative for TCF, says that the banks recent switch from charging $35 a day in overdraft fees to $28 a day for up to 14 days was the cause behind the error.

“If we had done it by hand, someone probably would have said, ‘Oh it’s just 10 cents, let’s not worry about it,’” Korstange explained. “But we process millions of transactions a day, and there has to be a cutoff number.”

“We’re learning from it too,” Korstange added. “We hope not to make these mistakes again.”

As for Daniel? He wants nothing to do with the banking world anymore.

“He just said, ‘Mom, I can’t have a bank account,’” Melinda said. “I said, ‘You can Dan. We just need to find you a good bank.’”