Expensive Lesson

I like my American Express card because there’s no annual fee and I get cash back on purchases I make. They pissed me off royally today, though.

It’s my fault. I know this. I have two checking accounts — the old one I don’t really use anymore, and the fabulous, new, interest-bearing ING account I’ve mentioned before. A few weeks ago when I scheduled the payment of my American Express card, I wasn’t paying attention, and scheduled the money to come out of the old account (which is nearly empty) instead of the new one. So this week the payment hit the old checking account and was denied. I was charged $32 by the bank and $38 by American Express. I called them immediately, and they were kind enough to remove the fee, but said they couldn’t do anything about the fact that the request for electronic payment would be sent to my bank two or three more times. I paid the balance of the card from my ING account (which was the original plan), and called the old bank…

…I sat on hold for thirty minutes (multitasking all the while, of course), and decided to take an early lunch and drive down to the branch…

They also removed my fee, and offered to put a stop payment order on the transaction for $30. The catch is that the stop payment order wouldn’t go into effect until next Thursday, so if the payment was resubmitted between now and then, it would be denied again, resulting in another round of fees. I can transfer money from my savings account and have that by Thursday, so I opted to do that and save myself the $30 stop payment fee. So… More than likely the second request for payment will hit the account before the savings have transferred over, and I’ll pay one more overdraft fee. American Express said they’d waive any further fees, but the bank wouldn’t. I feel so… trashy or something, like I’m working the system, even though I’m not. Even with all of this pain-in-the-ass stuff, I’m still going to come out ahead — I should only end up paying a maximum of $32 for the whole ordeal, and I’ve earned more than that in interest and cash back on purchases this year.

But still. It’s annoying that “automatic” can be synonymous with “out of control.”


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