Remember how I said closing my account at Chase was really easy? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. A week or two later, I'm going through the mail and there's all this mail from Chase—overdraft notices for my Chase checking account. Which is supposed to be closed. The notices are for two debit card transactions and two auto-pay electronic checks. Instead of the payments not going through, like you would expect of a closed checking account, all four were paid by Chase, which then added an overdraft fee of $34 to each one, meaning $136 in overdraft fees. So I called Chase's 1-800 number and spent about half an hour arguing with them on the phone, and they kept telling me that while they had received my "request" to close the account, the account had not been closed, and that if I wanted to close it I had to go to the branch in person, which I kept saying I'd already done. At the end of the call he said, "Thank you for choosing Chase." It was too late to go to the branch right then, which is good, because I probably would have brought a bazooka.
Next day I called the branch to speak directly to the guy who'd "closed" my account. Why was my account open again?
"One of the things that we were talking about is I asked you if you had any items pending," he said. "And there were."
I reminded him that we had looked to see if there were any items pending and he admitted, "When we looked at it there weren't any items pending."
Anyway, there were items pending—two small debit card transactions I'd made days before closing the account and had forgotten about—and he explained that debit card transactions can take three or more days to show up and that debit card payments are guaranteed by the bank—"we can't not pay them"—so if a debit card transaction comes through on a closed account the account opens right back up again so Chase can start dinging you in overdraft fees again. That's why two and a half weeks after my account was "closed" Chase was still paying out long-ago setup auto-payments that I hadn't switched over yet. I asked why no one called to tell me my account wasn't closed anymore and he said, "I don't routinely go back and make sure something closed, its just not something we do."
He agreed to waive all four overdraft fees, and I got out my new BECU debit card to pay off the balance on my formerly allegedly closed Chase checking account, and he said, "Can't take it over the phone." Huh? The biggest bank in America doesn't have the technology to take a payment over the phone? "Can you come down and we can do it here?" he said. Do they get paid by how much of my time they waste?
So I trudged back to Chase, waited in one of those stupid chairs for the guy who'd closed the account before, and waited in another chair at his desk while he stared into his computer screen. After a bit I asked what he was doing and he said, "Refunding the fees. One by one. Takes a minute." Then he walked me over to the teller, told the teller what to do, shook my hand, and agreed to call me the next day to confirm it had been closed. Mercifully he did not say, "Thank you for choosing Chase."
Moral of the story: Don't use your debit card for a week or so before closing your checking account. If you're participating in National Bank Transfer Day on November 5—and you really should, if you haven't already transfered from a for-profit big bank to a non-profit credit union—you should get out cash and stop using your debit card right now.