Chicagoland teenager Daniel Ganziano thought he was doing the right thing when he opened an account last year with TCF Bank near his Illinois home to learn how to handle money responsibly. Instead, Ganziano learned that bank fees can very quickly spiral out of control — in his case, to more than $229 in less than two weeks. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ganziano had stopped depositing money into the account and had a balance of $4.85. Unbeknownst to him, the bank hit him with a $9.95 monthly maintenance fee, and that’s when the trouble started. The fee kicked his account into the red, which triggered an overdraft fee, which triggered another overdraft fee and so on.
By the time the unfortunate kid got the letter in the mail from the bank letting him know about the first fee, that tiny balance of less than five bucks had ballooned to a debt of $229.10 because of $28 overdraft fees the bank applied every day. The kicker? The first overdraft fee was triggered when Ganziano’s account was overdrawn by $5.10. The bank charges that $28 daily fee if the account is overdrawn by more than five dollars.
Ganziano’s mother Melinda tells the Tribune she dug into her pocket for the fees the bank made them pay before they would let him close out the account. She tried asking that some of the fees be waived — seeing as how he hadn’t known about the accumulating negative balance until he got the letter in the mail, several days after the meter had begun running, and because the account was only 10 cents over the threshold that triggered the fee.
The bank’s reply? They removed only a single one of the $28 daily charges, and told her there was nothing more they could do. Ganziano’s mother paid to have the account closed, then contacted the Tribune after a promise of follow-up by a regional supervisor went nowhere. Only after the paper got involved did the bank yield, promising to reimburse the Ganzianos the $229.10. A TCF spokesperson told the Tribune it had recently lowered its overdraft fees from $35 to $28 — a change that probably doesn’t make Daniel or Melinda feel any better about their ordeal.