Giving It To The Little Guys

Last modified on September 15th, 2009

I tweeted about some rather recent banking problems I’ve been having, so I thought I’d tell the whole story.

About five years ago (probably longer to be honest), I opened a business account at TD bank on Broadway in Vancouver. I was going to start doing a little consulting on the side while doing my master’s degree, so I thought having a business account would be a good idea. At the time, I also got a small mastercard as well.

I never really ended up having time for the consulting, so the account kind of just sat there for a few months. Eventually I ended up cancelling that mastercard and (my recollection at least) was that the account was shut down.

Jump ahead to about a month ago (five years later), and I get an statement in my mailbox from TD for that account. I was obviously surprised, since I haven’t even thought about that account in about five years. Despite not having a line of credit, the account was showing -$329.78 in the hole. Apparently they’ve been continuing to charge monthly fees on the account, even though there has been zero usage, and none of the statements (assuming they were ever sent) made it to me.

I called TD on the phone and ended up talking to the national support centre. I asked them if it was TD’s official policy to, despite not having any money in an account, continue racking up monthly fees despite lack of account usage or any contact with the account holder in five years. Obviously they didn’t have an answer to that. After bouncing between agents for a while, I eventually got to talk to a girl who offered to reduce my amount owing by three month’s (which would amount to about $45). I said that wasn’t good enough, and that I didn’t think I should have to pay anything.

TD’s main argument is that apparently they didn’t have an updated address for me, so they couldn’t send me any statements. Once again I argued that had they mailed anything to me, the statements probably would have eventually been returned to TD, which means they deliberately continued to charge me even though they knew I wasn’t receiving any documentation.

I can’t really think of a single service I’ve ever subscribed to where the company will continue to charge your account nearly indefinitely in a situation where you haven’t paid. For example, I’ve had Visa statements bounce before, and the very first thing they do is to disable your card so that you have to call them. It’s a precaution for both parties involved, and forces you to update your information. If you don’t pay your cable bill, they terminate your service. Same goes with phone, hydro, heat, etc. Apparently though banks will continue to put you into the red, despite not talking to you for five years or (worse) not having any money in your account to pay for the fees.

Even if one were to buy their argument that they didn’t have an accurate address on file, I’ve actually been a TD customer for several years now. I own a TD travel visa, which has my accurate address (been using that for about 18 months now), and BraveNewCode banks with TD as well (and also has my accurate address). So definitely within the computers at TD is an accurate address and phone number for me.

I’ve tried calling the branch in question three separate times now, and each time I’ve asked to speak with a branch manager. Each time I was told a they would call me back, and so far I haven’t heard from one. The last time I called was this morning, and basically said I was going to blog about it, and that the Vancouver Sun also indicated a bit of interest in the story. I’ve been assured someone will call me back today, at which point I’m hoping to finally have some resolution to this.

To add insult to injury, I received another account statement this morning, this time with an additional $12 in account fees, and $5 in overdraft interest. Despite calling TD several times and putting this account in dispute, they continue to rack up the charges on this account.

If they seriously want me to pay, I’m going to ask them to provide official documentation that it’s their policy to charge people into overdraft on accounts that haven’t been used in years and where contact with the owner hasn’t been possible. If they fail to provide me any documentation to that affect, or that I authorized an indefinite overdraft on this account, I’m not going to pay it, at which point I’ll have to come up with another method to resolve this.