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Calling BS on Chase’s Safe Deposit Box fee

August 25, 2010 7 comments

I have had a safe deposit box with Washington Mutual, now Chase, for several years.  This year I decided to close the box since we weren’t using it.  When I went into the branch to turn in the keys I noticed that it was the first day of the new year’s lease – Bummer, my procrastination was probably going to cost us.  Sure enough, I was right.  The damage?  $45 for the *entire* year’s rental.  There was simply nothing the banker I was working with could do about the fee.  Knowing how big banks work, I figured that part was probably true.  I expressed my irritation, advised the banker she should find a job with a more customer friendly bank, and walked out the door.

Now, it’s a couple of days later so I decided to give the branch a call and see if a branch manager could refund at least part of the fee.  After a short discussion with a person named “Jenny”, she offered to call me back after conferring with the “home office”.  Oh brother – A “branch manager” at Chase is so neutered that she can’t even issue a refund without permissions from the “home office” – wherever that is.  Anyway, long story short, “Jenny” calls me back and says that the $45 fee was actually for *LAST YEAR’S* box rental.  I actually laughed and said that I didn’t believe that to be the case.  After all, what bank on this planet, or any other, would extend a safe deposit box to a customer for an entire year on credit?  After checking my records I found the following charges for my Safe Deposit Box:

8/28/2007 – $45
8/25/2008 – $45
8/24/2009 – $45
8/23/2010 – $45

Since I rented the box in 2007, they are obviously charging the fee up front, not at the end of the year as “Jenny” has said.  In other words, Chase is lying to me.  I know, surprise, surprise.  But wait, there’s more.   In searching my records, I’ve also noticed another interesting thing:  Chase short-changed me a minimum of 1 day of rental fees since the renewal date moves up by at least one day each year.  It may only mean 12 cents per year, but given the size of Chase and the number of safe deposit boxes they have, I suspect it adds up to a lot of money on their end.

Are you banking with one of the big banks?  Have you been nailed by one of their stupid, and extremely high, fees?  Are you tired of it?  Here are some banks and credit unions that I either do business with now or have come across:

Verity Credit Union – I really like these folks.  If I use my debit card 12 times in a month, they will reimburse $20 in “foreign ATM” fees and pay me 1.55% interest on my checking account.  Pretty good deal, although I don’t take advantage of the ATM fee refund – I stick to affiliated credit union ATMs which are free and save Verity from having to refund those fees.

Everbank – This FDIC insured bank out of Florida, has an excellent rate on their “High Yield Money Market” account.  Right now it’s 1.51% although they do have a 3 month teaser rate of 2%.  A good deal if you have cash to stash.

Woodstone Credit Union – Here’s another local (to the Seattle area at least) credit union with a great interest checking option.  3% if you jump through a couple of hoops – I’m going to stick with Verity but this is another good option.

I still have credit cards with Chase since our frequent flier mileage plans are associated with them.  However, I’m looking for any opportunity I can find to dump those as well.  I’ll keep you informed if I find any good deals…

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