Aug 17, 2011

Being a banker must be nice

Trying to close my FNB (First National Bank) account here in South Africa I got a visceral reminder of what kind of service banks are providing the average customer.  First, just to close the account requires a fee of about R50.  I had left about R20 in there, but as it turns out FNB had charged me a bunch of fees that put me in the hole, and then a R88 "service fee" which I assumed was from being forcibly overdrafted.  I suspect there's some kind of automatic procedure that trips a bunch of fines if you ever let your account balance get to low so they can then charge you for overdrafting.  Anyway, I had to pay to get my balance up to the correct amount, and pay an additional deposit fee to allow me to put money into my own account.

The best part, though, was after waiting about twenty minutes for the deposit to go through, they had one more fine of R9.50 waiting for me on another screen, so I had to pay the deposit fee again to finish the process.  I considered throwing a howling fit, but it seemed unlikely to pay off.  In any case, be warned.


  1. A couple of years ago, my teenage son's account had a 50 cent balance when he checked his account at an ATM to see if a $25 check had been credited. It hadn't, and he was not aware that the bank charged $1 for the balance inquiry, overdrawing his account. That cost him $35. The next day, assuming his $25 check had cleared, he used his debit card to pay for a subway ticket (about $1). Since the bank had taken all of the $25 check because of the $35 overdraft fee, the $1 ticket cost another $35 overdraft fee. This set off a series of overdrafts. By the time his $200 paycheck from his part time job got deposited, he owed the bank about $300. When I went to the bank with my son to try to get some fees refunded, the bank only agreed to waive 2 of the overdraft fees, meaning the bank got to keep the entire $225 my son had deposited. They prey on kids and low income folks. The US financial reforms last year helped the problem some, but now Wells Fargo is instituting a debit card fee. In order use your card to access your money, you will now have to pay a monthly debit card fee. Yes, being a banker is nice.

  2. Good Grief, what a horror story. Like Ryan, I went to close my FNB account as part of the COS procedure. I had an overdraft of approximately R100 and had to pay R387 in order to close my account. There was not even an itemization of the fees, just the receipt for R387. Like Ryan, I assumed silence was the better part of valor. B