How many of you remember Washington Mutual?
Along time ago in a land far far away, Moses (me) had a Washington Mutual account. I had just moved to Washington state and was in need of a safe place to put my money. Seeing as WAMU had ATM’s all over the place, it looked like a good decision to bank with them.
It was a rosy relationship at first. I put my money in their hands and they let me have it when I wanted it. Everything was great at first, but that all soon changed.
At some point in 2002, I noticed a nefarious trend. When I deposited money it would go in right away. Usually a day or two later for a cheque. IF I WITHDREW MONEY however, even from the ATM it wouldn’t show it going through.
Say I have 200$ (at this point in my life I’m not rich)
I withdraw 20$ from an ATM and my statement should say 180$ right? WRONG. It would say 200$. Pulling money out of an ATM would take a day to register.
IF I wrote a cheque to a friend and he cashed it the same day I wrote it, the money would be withdrawn from my account UP TO 5 DAYS LATER.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Moses whats the big deal? How could this possibly be bad?” The answer my friends, is that if you are trying to get people to overdraft this is how you’d do it.
At 35$ a pop, and hearing the lame excuses from their customer service department, “Oh it just takes a few days for the funds to withdraw.” Its pretty obvious that they were overdraft farming people like me. You can imagine my reaction when I’d written a cheque and completely forgotten about it 4 days later; Then going out and buying a Starbucks drink for 39$ (that’s right, 4$ plus the 35$ overdraft fee)
So fast forward some years and I’ve spent SO MUCH MONEY on overdraft fees. It got to the point where I was so scared to do anything with my bank account.
To those people thinking, “Oh Moses you just need to learn to manage your money better.”
I did learn, but not without a heavy cost. Let me also remind you that tricking people into over drafting is outright evil. Slowing down the available funds process to get me to forget and overdraft. NOT COOL WAMU. Besides you shouldn’t have to balance a cheque book for a measly 100-200$. No wait, apparently you do with WAMU.
It all doesn’t matter. In the end WAMU got caught up in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. They gave out a ton of mortgages to people who couldn’t repay them and those people ended up going into default. WAMU effectively went bankrupt in 2008.
My reaction to this awesome piece of news
To those of you wanting to know, this story has an even more awesome ending. I am currently in a long term relationship with a credit union. We’re madly in love, and will be forever.
Do you have any stories like this one? Please share. Please please please oh please.