Do you wind up paying bank fees because you’re introverted, shy, quiet, or just too well bred to complain about such things? There’s no need to pay the fees. Here’s how to get out of them.
I recently bounced a check because I chose the wrong account in the online bill paying process (I have two accounts with that bank, one of which I rarely use). I had tons of money in the other account. I got hit with a $35 fee and a warning that they would hit me with another fee if I did not make the account cash positive in five days.
This fee annoyed me. I started with this bank in 1998, how dare they charge me anything?
I decided to get out of the fee, with a modified version of the script from the best personal finance blog ever. I say modified because the past few times that I’ve used Ramit’s script verbatim it hasn’t worked, so I changed it to fit the situation and my conversational strengths.
Here’s what I did
First I put money in the account to show good faith and put myself on the moral high ground. Then I waited two days.
Then I called, somewhat awkwardly (I’m not great at this sort of thing, but I’m getting better) and asked nicely for the bank to remove the fee. The customer service rep very nicely refused.
- Explained what happened, telling him how I made an innocent mistake
- Told him I have money in the other account, (politely saying I’m not a deadbeat)
- Reminded him that I demonstrated good faith by putting money in the account (politely saying I won’t bounce another check)
- Told him that I expect the fee to be removed (politely saying I know my position in the relationship with them)
- Went into a detailed history of my dealings with this bank for the past many years
- Name dropped (I made up the names) the people I have dealt with at the bank over the years
Then I come to a full stop and enjoyed the silence, waiting for him to move next. Note, I did not end with a question. This is key. If you end on a question, people can give you a short answer. If you bury the question within a wall of statements, people feel obligated to refute your entire argument (which took me about five minutes to deliver). Did he check with his supervisor if it was okay to refund the money “Just this once”? Yes he did.
Why did all of this work? I emphasized
- I was a good, loyal client
- Management notices when long-standing clients leave
- I was nice
- I was long winded
- To tell me no again would extend the call by at least ten minutes, I clearly had all the time in the world and he had no clear reason to hang up on me
- All it would take to get me to go away is the refund
If they are going to bend the rules for someone, they are going to bend them for me, so they did.
The takeaway:– If you’re long-winded and don’t end with a question you make customer service do more work, which they don’t want to do, so they give in. Try it out.
PS – the code word for this type of fee forgiveness is “Relationship Refund“.
This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog – as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.