Overdraft: The (short) movie

By Felix Salmon
September 17, 2009

For those of you who prefer your overdraft journalism in video form, here’s a short documentary by Karney Hatch about overdraft fees. It’s very good, partly because it actually tells you what to do if you’ve been dinged by these things and the bank won’t refund your money. Small-claims court is your friend! And works!

Update: This is just the trailer, it turns out.  The short version ran on Current TV; the long version is available on Amazon.


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Thanks for linking to this video.

Are you going to start the stampede by going further and suggesting that people take their claims to court?

“I’m mad as hell and not going to take it any more” can be the rallying cry.

You are influential. Please do this and ask your blogging buddies to join. In fact, get NBC Nightly News on board. Their recent stories tell them this is a huge story.

I’ve posted this on my blog and it’s time to spread the word.

Thanks for the heads-up on this issue.

Below is a paste up of a letter I sent to
Customer.assistance@occ.treas.gov. As of yet I’ve received no response. It’s quite possible that those guys are yet another friend of big money / big business masquerading as public servant type bureaucrats. In any event, it’s no wonder folks get pissed when the only laws enforced are those that individuals allegedly break. Meanwhile the individual must bear the expense of seeking justice on their own even though there’s a bureaucrat out there getting a paycheck for running interference for the fat boys when his supposed job is to protect folks from theiving big shots.

Aug 4, 2009

I believe that Wachovia uses deceptive and unfair policies when customer overdrafts occur.

I viewed the Wachovia customer website on Sat, Aug 1, 2009. The information there reflected an account balance which agreed with my own. The following Monday, my wife inadvertantly used the Wachovia account to make a purchase. Tuesday, Wachovia assessed my account with three individual overdrafts when I was liable for only one. My conversation with a Wachovia representative resulted in a refund of 20% of the $105 taken from my account. I expressed my wish that the amount of $70 be returned to me but that request was denied.
I view the 20% refund as Wachovia’s deference that I had been wronged but have no recourse but to make this complaint. How our records can agree on the first of the month and after making only one transaction in the interim, result in three penalties is dishonest to say the least. If the debits against my account were taken chronologically, my liability would be for only $35.00. The method employed by Wachovia was to debit my account for the largest amount first (regardless of chronological sequence) and place previous debits in the category of overdraft to capitalize on the maximum amount of penalty monies. This banking sleight of hand is highly unethical and very easily seen through.

Please advise me as to whom I might contact to see about having Wachovia’s predatory policies held up to scrutiny and hopefully have my money returned to me.

Posted by RH Pyle | Report as abusive

To RH Pyle,

I doubt the government will help.

Did you try sending this as a letter to the editor of the newspaper where you live?

Response to Mr Wolfinger:

I’m right now chuckling to myself because of the glaringly obvious truth of what you said about the helpfulness of our government.

As far as the local newspaper is concerned, the bigshots at the bank and paper dine at the same restaurants, golf at the same club, and look down virtually the same nose at guys like me.

My reluctance to use the paper as a tool by which I can expose Wachovia and Wells Fargo stems from a fear that retribution would be swift and terrible. In this society an individual without a bank account is handicapped at every turn. Knowing this, banks have become increasingly predatory and proven adept at punishing depositors.

Thanks for the reaction to my post.

Posted by RH Pyle | Report as abusive

Thanks for the mention, Felix. This is actually a short version of a full-length documentary I did on the subject, “Overdrawn!”, which will be having a screening on Capitol Hill at the end of October.

Details at: