Dear Credit Union…

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I promise I’ll drop this and stop posting about it, but I just had to share this e-mail that I wrote to our credit union today at lunch, after a very unsatisfactory phone call with the manager of our local branch that ended with me in tears in my car and walking around work this afternoon with very red eyes and makeup that’s been washed away. This will end it – I’m sure it won’t affect anything, but it helped to write it and know that someone out there at the credit union will at least read it.

I have talked with the manager of our branch and I know that you have helped us in the past and that you have no reason to now. And that your policy is to help once and that’s it. I know that the error which was made, causing the snowball effect that took place in our checking account on Monday, was mine. I know all of these things. But I can only hope that you will help us anyway.

Yes, our account was overdrawn a lot in 2005/2006. We got ourselves into a horrible financial mess that took months to climb out of. In August of 2006, you helped us by waiving a lot of fees that had incurred when we hit rock bottom. We were behind on everything. We almost lost our house. In August, I found a full-time job, my husband changed jobs and we began to fix things. Since that time, we have been able to bring all of our bills current and to work out our mortgage issues with our company so that our mortgage loans are finally back in good standing. We are still struggling but have been trying to build up a small savings account as well as an account toward Christmas gifts for our 3 children this year. We have been trying to think ahead.

Last week, I made a mistake. Actually a couple of them. I forgot to record a check for $312.50. Therefore, when I went to pay our 2nd mortgage payment of $379, I mistakenly thought that we had more money than we did. It was my error – I should not have made that house payment. We may still have gone overdrawn (mistake #2) but it wouldn’t have been at the scale of what happened this week. However, when both the check and the mortgage payment cleared, it started a snowball effect where every small debit card purchase that we made over the weekend (before we knew there was a problem) caused massive amounts of overdraft fees. At this time, our account is over $700 withdrawn.

My paycheck tomorrow will bring us back into the positive. However, this check was meant to pay our regular mortgage payment for July, with only a few dollars extra. Instead, it will have to go almost entirely to clean up my mess. Yes, my mess. I caused it, I know that I should fix it. But it isn’t just affecting me. My father-in-law is lending us money for a few days to try and bring the account positive, but we have to pay him back on Friday. My husband is taking as many overtime hours as he can get in order to earn as much money as possible to cover the amount I cost us. My kids don’t see their father enough as it is, and now will see him even less. Our daycare provider is being wonderful and letting us pay her late this week and next, but that affects her income and ability to pay her own bills on time. And the couple of hundred dollars that we’ve been able to save so far toward Christmas this year will be completely wiped out to help cover the fees. Our bills will get behind again and I have no idea how long it will take to get caught back up again. I screwed up. Badly. You have no reason to help us. I only can pray that you will anyway.

Thank you for listening,
Deb S.

Here’s their response:

Your account has been reviewed and at this time, no additional fees will be refunded unless charged in error by the credit union. Please take advantage of our website at ** , Compu-phone (automated system) at **, and monthly statements to view and monitor past and current transaction activity. By reconciling the account frequently, you will avoid costly fees in the future.
Thank you,
Member Communication Center

I wrote them back the following and haven’t heard anything since:

I do reconcile our account frequently using the on-line tools – usually every few days. I had done so on Friday the 22nd and went into the account to do so again on Tuesday the 25th since debit card charges from the weekend usually take a day or two to show up. I don’t like the implication that we don’t monitor our accounts – we do. It just wasn’t enough this time. Everyone makes mistakes and I freely admit that this was mine. Apparently you do not care very much about your customers.

I am extremely disappointed – not so much that you won’t help us, I pretty much expected that. But the lack of a personal response and the curt, unfriendly tone of your e-mail that implies that we don’t know how to manage our money is very unnecessary. We manage our money just fine – we simply don’t have much to begin with. For an organization that bills yourself as a place where “You Matter”, I don’t get any kind of feeling that we matter to you at all. I find that very sad.

And that’s apparently the end of it. Now we figure out how to fix things.