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August 19, 2008

An open letter to Wamu regarding overdraft "protection"

August 19. Day 50.

Dear Wamu,

Here is a letter to say thanks for agreeing to cancel my overdraft protection.

As your telephone banker requested (see the last two paragraphs of yesterday's posting), I drove over to your branch and asked for a form so I could opt out of overdraft protection. It took a good twenty minutes in traffic, but what's twenty minutes when the results are greater fiscal efficiency for us both? Hey, I even found parking right out front!

Lucky me, there was no line, so I hopped up to your first available teller and asked her for this magical form.

But wait! What's this? You've say there is no such form? I can't opt out? I misinterpreted what the phone teller told me?

It's not me, it's you?

Wamu, I feel hurt. Emasculated, actually. How else can I feel, when you've taken away my power of decision? Shouldn't using protection be a joint decision, after all?

Your resourceful teller feels bad -- she never meant to hurt me. In fact, she has a solution!

"I can decrease your overdraft limit, from $1,250, but if you overdraw, you'll still have to pay the fee," she incants.

I explain I don't particularly care what my limit is -- make it $0 -- as long as Wamu will never pump funds into a transaction my checking account can't cover and then charge me $33. Basically, I'm not interested in that so-called service anymore.

"Well, you see it's a really more like a fine, not a service. It's meant to punish people for dropping below zero."

Now we're finally connecting. A moment of truth. Your function is to punish me by charging $33, rather than provide a fiduciary service! Thanks, Wamu! And so cheaply, too. Those kinds of "arrangements" usually cost much more on Craigslist.

I haven't overdrawn in more than a year, so this is more a battle of principle. And in principle, I agree that people who don't manage their bank accounts shouldn't be rescued by their banks. But to charge money for a service they don't want, rather than simply not allowing the transaction to go through... below the belt, Wamu.

Perhaps I'll take this up with your corporate headquarters, but more likely, I'll trade up and smile with satisfaction, rather than pity, when I read about your billions of losses on Wall Street.

La Roxy

Gained: Confirmation of my lingering suspicion that Wamu is an inferior banking institution. Time to find an alternative.

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