Citizen’s Bank Overdraft Fee Scam

Nine years ago, I signed up for a checking account at Citizens Bank in Flint, MI. Since then, I have been a happy customer… until now. If you are looking for a bank to do business with DO NOT CHOOSE Citizens Bank. The trouble isn’t worth it, and there are MUCH better banks out there.

Here is what happened to me:

Monday morning I had 200 dollars in my checking account.

On Tuesday I used my Visa check card 3 times:
– Once in the morning for a 4 dollar purchase at a coffee shop
– Once later in the afternoon for gas.. a 21 dollar purchase
– Once for lunch: 10 dollars
– Once in the evening at Meijer for 180 dollars (groceries, clothes, etc).

Ok, at this point you can see that I went into the red. I spent more money than I had in my checking account. Well, because I had “overdraft protection” with Citizens, all 3 charges were approved. Now, there is obviously going to be a fee associated with me spending more than I have in my checking account. But how much do you think it is? 10 dollars? 30 dollars? Not even close.

On Wednesday of that week, I was charged 7 fees totaling 231 dollars.

How can this be? Well, according to the customer service representative I spoke with, Citizens bank charges 33 dollars for both pre-authorizations AND the actual charge on the account! That’s right, they charge 2×33 for each charge made on the card for EVERY charge the day you went over. Pre-authorizations are “holds” that are put on your account at places like gas stations or restaurants, where they want to make sure the card isn’t going to be declined before the services are provided. They do not show up on my online account or my monthly statement.

I would have expected ONE fee, my last charge that day, that put me over, not 7 of them. I asked the customer service rep what would have happened had I used my card 20 times that day for small purchased. You guessed it. I would have been charged 40 fees for 33 dollars totaling $1320. Scary to think about. I’ve used my card 15 times in one day before.

Anyway, I wrote them an email stating that I would like all of my money back that they took for these outrageous charges, or else I will be closing my personal AND business account with them. I got an email response about 5 minutes later with instructions on how to close my account. This just proves to me that after 9 years, they really don’t value ANY customers.

In my email I also asked how I am supposed to be aware of data that I have no access to. I have no idea how much the gas station pre-auths my check card for, same with restaurants. Do you know how much your card is preauthorized for? Have you ever even heard of a pre-auth? Since they don’t show this information ANYwhere, I feel that it is unfair that I am penalized for not knowing it. Their only response was that I should “just estimate twice as much as what you spend will be on your card”. The rep actually said that. Great. Now in order to spend 100 dollars on my check card, I need 200 dollars in it because the pre-auth doesn’t clear for 3 days. SCAM.

After some internet research I saw that in this last quarter’s prospectus they mentioned to their investors that they have modified the fee structure and have made if more difficult for “customers to get fees reversed”. Wonderful.

Beware of Citizens Bank. They lost this long-time customer because of one outrageous incident, and I hope they lose many more.

Jailed for a cell phone call

Judge Norene Redmond sentenced Carmen Granata of Eastpointe, MI to 30 days in jail because someone made a phone call from her porch. Thank goodness the police aren’t out dealing with real crimes in Detroit!

Check out Carmen Granata’s story. This was also featured in the Detroit Freepress, among other places.

Man, I’m glad I don’t have neighbors like hers. People that call the cops for that kind of thing make me sick.

Graydon’s Crossing, Grand Rapids, MI Review

I have visited Graydon’s Crossing in Grand Rapids, MI twice now, but I will never be back.

A short backstory: I moved to Grand Rapids this last week, and I now live within a mile of Plainfield Ave. Tonight, my roommate and I were looking to spend some money (payday!), drink some liquor, and watch the Tiger’s game. Well, that did NOT happen at Graydon’s Crossing tonight.

Since it was a PERFECT night out, we were looking for somewhere to sit outside to have a few drinks before moving inside for the game. We walked in to Graydons, and the sign said “Please wait to be seated”. I waited for about 20 seconds for someone to show up at their post, but nobody did, so I went looking for a seat myself.

Graydons has two levels. The first level on the outside was already full, so we doubled back and went by the hostess station again. No hostess there yet, so we took a gander upstairs. Plenty of room! We started moving towards a two-person table out on the deck but were intercepted by a young woman.

her: “Are you guys meeting anyone up here?”
us: “no… just here to drink”
her: “well, are you going to eat an entree?”
us: “umm….. what?”
her: “well, you have to order an entree to sit outside up here”

Now… there are some things you, the reader, should understand about this situation:

1. We were sober, and well-dressed.
2. There were PLENTY of open tables upstairs.
3. It was almost 9pm. I don’t think too many people are coming for dinner at Graydon’s Crossing after 9.

Needless to say we both walked back down the stairs and left the establishment, never to be back again.

Overall, I’m glad this happened, because I found an AWESOME bar just down the road. We walked about a block north and found Sazerac’s. Great food, a wide selection of beer, and an awesome bartender/owner. We watched our game there and had a great time. So take my advice: skip the English Pub and head over to the cozy pub with a New Orleans-style flair.

Summary: BOOOOOoooooo! Graydon’s Crossing turned away probably 100 dollars of business tongiht. The place has potential if they would stop turning away customers.

Can’t connect to Google on T-Mobile

I love my T-Mobile MDA Cell phone, but one thing I don’t love is the network’s inability to connect to ANY of Google’s networks.

The first site I tried when I turned on my T-Mobile data plan was www.google.com. Time out.

I tried about 10 times over the next few days and then finally called support, just thinking that my data service wasn’t activated yet.
Well, the Tmobile tech asked me to go to cnn.com, which I did, and it worked fine. I tried Google again, and when it timed out, the tech on the phone said that “connecting to Google over our network has been a known issue”.

Great. So, no google search, no Gmail, no google Maps.. nothing. Iwas hoping this issue would have resolved itself by now, but it hasn’t. Nearly 2 months later and I am still unable to connect to google.

I can’t connect to google even when I tether. It still just times out. The only way I’m able to access google is when the wi-fi is in use.

Please fix your problems, T-Mobile.

Google’s Gmail – Server Error

I have been unable to access my main gmail account all day. I get a server error message.

It seems that I’m not the only one having problems with gmail today. Just another sign that I shouldn’t be using Gmail for critical data storage or communication.

UPDATE:
Someone in the google groups reported getting this back from Google after reporting their account was locked out:

“Thank you for your report. We apologize for any confusion or
inconvenience. For your security, we may temporarily disable access to
your account if our system detects abnormal usage. Abnormal usage
includes, but is not limited to:

– Receiving, deleting, or popping out large amounts of mail (via POP)
in a
short period of time
– Sending a large number of undeliverable messages (messages that
bounce
back)
– Using third party file-sharing or storing software, or software that
automatically logs in to your account and that is not supported by
Gmail
– Multiple instances of your Gmail account opened
– Browser-related issues. Please note that if you find your browser
continually reloading while attempting to access your inbox, it is
likely
a browser issue.

UPDATE #2: Within 5 minutes of me submitting a ticket, the problem has been fixed and I can log in.

Grammar lesson: Its vs It’s

You know what pisses me off? When people mess up the words its and it’s.

You know what really pisses me off? When this mistake is made on something that a lot of people see. Restaurant menus, posters, websites, billboards… what is going on America? It’s not that hard!

Here is a grammar lesson for those of you still messing it up:

It’s is a contraction for it is or it has.

Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it.

There is no such word as its’, dummy.

Still not sure? Go get help. You’re retarded. Or test it:
If you can replace it[‘]s in your sentence with it is or it has, then your word is it’s; otherwise, your word is its.

Examples:

It’s been my pleasure to educate your dumb ass. Contraction: it has

It’s fucking annoying when people mess up contractions! Contraction: it is

The retard howled when it got its arm slammed in the door. Possessive pronoun: its arm = the retard’s arm

Credit scoring influence on insurance scoring in Michigan

Ok- So it appears I was wrong about Jenny Granholm.

In Michigan, a Circuit Court judge ruled on April 25 that banning the use of credit information as proposed by the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) was illegal, invalid and unenforceable because the Office was attempting to rewrite the Insurance Code through administrative rulemaking. The judge said that the evidence shows that policyholders with low credit scores present a higher risk than policyholders with higher scores and that one of the basic principles of insurance was that higher risk policyholders should pay higher rates. The OFIS is appealing the ruling. The lawsuit stemmed from a decision by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Insurance Commissioner Linda Watters, announced in April 2004, that the state would ban the use of insurance scoring in personal lines insurance as a rating factor and in underwriting. The two officials said eliminating the use of credit would produce lower base rates and make insurance more affordable but, in fact, because more people benefit from the use of insurance scoring than are penalized, most people would have seen a rise in rates. Auto insurance rates are higher than average in Michigan, in part because the state’s auto insurance system provides generous medical care benefits.

And another from Insurance Journal:

Michigan’s Granholm Moves to Ban Insurance Scoring

By Kevin B. O’Reilly
May 17, 2004

When campaigning for her current office, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm made it clear she detested the use of credit in rating and underwriting auto and homeowners insurance policies. Still, that was back in 2002. It was during the campaign. Industry observers thought that, perhaps, her anti-scoring fervor had somehow cooled.

“Evidently we were in error,” said Robert Pierce, CEO of the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA).

After a year of negotiations with House legislators, a bill to regulate what are called the worst abuses of the credit-based insurance scoring system in Michigan was introduced in mid-April. Largely based on the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ (NCOIL) model act on credit with a few wrinkles specific to the Wolverine State’s situation, HB 5803 appeared to be a breakthrough. Staffers from the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) were even in on the negotiations.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Granholm and OFIS Commissioner Linda A. Watters announced in a televised news conference a week later that not only would they not support the House bill (or its similar Senate version) but they would shortly propose a rule to ban the use of insurance scoring altogether. Maryland bans insurance scoring for homeowners insurance while California’s ban applies only to auto insurance. Every other state allows insurance scoring to some degree or another.

In a statement, the MAIA called the move “abrupt” and Pierce told Insurance Journal he was “surprised and disappointed” by the governor’s announcement.

“We feel that by proposing a rule this is the most effective way to provide base rate reductions to our consumers,” Watters told IJ. “The bottom line is that insurance rates in Michigan are just too high. We have seen since credit scoring began to be used in Michigan in 1996 that base rates have increased for auto insurance between 45 and 90 percent and for homeowners between 86 and 162 percent. So we do know that that’s a factor.”

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has ranked Michigan’s auto insurance rates 13th highest at $872 annually, compared to the national average of $817. Homeowners insurance rates are 30th highest at $487, compared to the national average of $417.

Watters said OFIS had been pushing for a 10 percent limit on the amount an insured’s rate could be discounted due to credit, but when the department did not get its way the administrative option had to be pursued. She also said the ban would bring base rates down between 10 and 45 percent. Both she and Granholm blamed discounts to insureds with good credit for raising base rates.

Doug Cruce, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan, estimated that 50 to 60 percent of insureds are currently receiving a discount, “and they’ll all receive an increase proportionate to the discount they’re getting.”

Michigan already bans the use of insurance scores to raise an insured’s rates, a common feature of the NCOIL-based laws around the country was inapplicable here. Insurers are only allowed to use insurance scores to offer customers discounted rates. Earlier this year, Watters called on all auto and home insurers to file certain loss data with OFIS for a study on whether the rates being charged were justified by insurers’ losses. The study is scheduled to be issued in late summer, but Granholm and Watters felt comfortable moving forward without the study’s conclusions.

“We felt no hesitation to wait until the findings are in,” Watters said. “This is an opportunity for us to eye reductions for consumers. The rule-making process takes four to six months. The results of the study will be out before process is over. So we’re not pre-empting our study by taking this action.”

Watters and Granholm argued that pushing the ban via the administrative rule-making process instead of moving it through the Republican-led legislature is legitimate because insurance scoring violates the state’s Essential Insurance Act by not applying discounts uniformly to all persons across the state. The pair also argued that the unreliability of credit reports and the lack of uniformity in insurers’ scoring models make the practice illegal.
http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/midwest/2004/05/17/features/42641.htm

In either case, my car insurance went up 56 dollars this year.

Another 5 American soldiers dead in Iraq

Call me a libtard or a pinko or whatever you would like to, but it seems like the American people are finally beginning to wise up after having the realities and costs of war battering them over and over. Here we have another 5 soldiers who have died for this war. President Bush is seeing the lowest approval rating of his entire tenure. The latest Gallup polls show that 67% of the American people disapprove with how the Commander-in-Chimp is running this war as well as saying another 63% support a partial or complete withdrawl of our forces from Iraq.

These are indeed dark days we live in.

By Jonathan Finer and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; 9:48 AM

BAGHDAD, Sept. 20 — The military announced the deaths Tuesday of five U.S. soldiers in three separate roadside bomb explosions, pushing the number of U.S. fatalities since March 2003 past the 1,900 mark.

Four of the soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. They were “conducting combat operations” and died in two separate incidents, said the military, declining to provide further details.

A fifth soldier belonged to the 18th Military Police Brigade and was killed 75 miles north of Baghdad when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, according to an official press release.

According to the Associated Press, the number of U.S combat deaths in Iraq stands at 1,904.

The details.

Katrina brings out flaws with the Bush Administration AND Christianity

Newsweek had an excellent article that pointed out some serious flaws with how this country handles Christianity.


Katrina has reminded us that Christian morality should be about responding to the wretched and loving the unlovable—not about other people’s sex lives.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9342324/site/newsweek/

How much more money is going to be spent censoring pornography vs. committing to a poverty program that isn’t totally horked?

Personally, I’m against spending any federal dollars on rebuilding New Orleans. Here are some reasons why:

1. Spending money on rebuilding only encourages people to build their houses in a flood zone again.

2. The federal government is going to spend about 200 billion, at last count. That is 400,000 dollars for every family in New Orleans. Why so much?

3. We could easily absorb these families into the rest of the cities in the U.S., because the U.S. economy is producing about 200,000 new jobs every month.

4. Another hurricane WILL hit N.O. within the next 20 or 30 years. Maybe it will be as early as 5 years, or perhaps next month…no one knows.

Here is a good editorial about what is being spent by our government, and how some of the recipients are wasting the money:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007278