Over the weekend, I wrote a short post on my personal blog that I called “Another Banking Ripoff.”  I asked for justification for the ‘service fee’ we’re all tagged with every time we get cash from an ATM.  While I wrote that rhetorical post somewhat tongue in cheek, it generated a tsunami of personal emails.  

Most people really missed the point and told me to switch banks.  I have banked at USAA since 1967 and will maintain my loyalty to it.  USAA has always treated me fairly and respectfully.  USAA reimburses the rip-off ATM charges that other banks stick me with.  Financially, it’s a wash.  I get my money back at the end of the month with an ATM rebate from USAA. 

The question is: why do banks charge the ‘service fee’ in the first place?  The best answer comes from Honi “no baloney” Garvin, my former hang-gliding partner in Alaska.  Honi hit the nail squarely on the head:

Everyone charges whatever they can get away with.

Think about that; everyone charges whatever they can get away with, and whatever they can get away with rarely equals what is fair.  How sad as we approach the bottom of the barrel. 

Last week, I tried to cancel one of three cell phone lines, a line that is never used.  I have been a cell phone customer of AT&T for eight years, and they told me I would incur a $60 fee to cancel that unused line.  Are you kidding me?  I think back to Honi’s response, “Everyone charges whatever they can get away with.”

I recently read a quote by New York Times best-selling author Matthew Kelly:  

“The Modern Western Empire is in decline.  It will soon die.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s not the end of humanity.  It’s just the beginning of a new era.  A new civilization will emerge.  And what will this new civilization be like?”

Matthew Kelly from Rediscover Catholicism

Don’t let the money brokers define this new civilization.  Take a stand for what is right and what is just.  What will this new civilization be like?

It’s up to us!

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2 Responses to Rip-off

  1. Sally Green says:

    I’ve never been charged an ATM withdraweal fee. As I have lived in MA, NC, and FL, maybe the east coast is different than the west, or maybe more bank competitive.

    I have had a recent negative interraction with my bank when I was transferring money to another financial institution and they tried to charge what I thought was an exhorbitant amount. When questioned, they said that because the money was in a trust account, it was considered a business transaction. All they had to do was transfer the money into my checking account and the fee was reduced by 75%.

  2. Brad says:

    Honi said it right. I’ve been reading a lot lately about different things that tend to define peoples’ outlooks on life and society in general. Thankfully I believe that at 30 years old I am finally starting to wake up and smell all of the coffee I’ve been consuming. ATM machines are cash cows, an easy way for banks to add billions, not millions, rather BILLIONS of dollars to their bottom line. I also use USAA but I never take out cash despite them refunding me–have you noticed that they’ve changed their policy as well? Now they’ll refund “up to $15.00” in ATM withdraw fees.

    One solution? Reduce the need for cash–minimalist living like you are already working towards better than most people I know.

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