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The policy of Citizens Bank concerning payroll checks is distinctly anti-citizen

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I discovered today, while checking my balance, that it is the policy of Citizens Bank to consider payroll checks in the same light as personal checks and, in accordance with that policy, place a five-day hold on them. This means, of course, that the grocery shopping and bill payment we had planned for the weekend will now have to wait until Monday so the funds I deposited this past Wednesday can clear. This has never happened to me with any other bank I have used and, I don't need to tell you, I am steaming mad.

Here is the letter that I am sending to the CEO of Citizens Bank, after a very helpful customer service rep gave me his address and indicated that all complaints should go to him.

I wish to register a complaint with regard to your policy of placing a hold on all checks deposited, including payroll checks, in accordance with the routing number.

In the fourteen years I have been employed and depositing checks, I have never had a hold placed on a payroll check. All banks with whom I have been associated (i.e. had accounts within) have made funds from payroll checks available immediately. Yet, when I deposited a payroll check at my local Citizens Bank branch on Wednesday, August 20, 2003, a five day hold was placed on it thereby ensuring that the funds will not be available until Monday, August 25, 2003. This practice is, in my mind, completely unacceptable.

As an example, below is a list of banks I have used in the past, all of whom saw the need to make funds from payroll checks available immediately:

Meridian Bank
Corestates Bank
First Union Bank
Wingspan Bank (online banking only)
PNC Bank
Commonwealth Bank

Most individuals who have the privilege to be working in this economy require the money from payroll checks to be available immediately in order to pay bills, and buy groceries and other necessities. I find the policy of your bank to be therefore "anti-individual" and "anti-community", which flies in the face of all of your claims to be a bank that cares about its customers. You are not only causing difficulty in budgeting by your policies, but are probably causing more overdrafts to occur simply because your customers believe funds are in their account when a payroll check is deposited.

As it stands, your policy is causing me to wait until August 25, 2003 to buy groceries for my family, buy school supplies needed for my son, and pay bills that are already scheduled through your online Bill Pay system. At this point, I have no qualms in telling you that I am seriously considering finding another bank that is truly in touch with its customers and their needs.

I hope that, for the sake of your customers, you will see fit to change the policy.


April <last name>

The address, if anyone else wishes to write, is:

Citizens Bank
1 Citizens Drive
Riverside, RI 02915
post #2 of 19
ACK! Switch banks and go to direct deposit if you can. We had problems with Allfirst bank here in Maryland. On Fridays, when DH goes to cash his check, AT THE BANK IT IS DRAWN FROM, who his employer has an account with, they charge him $5!!! And they need two forms of ID and a fingerprint! We do not bank with them so they told him to look around at the long lines and that those are CUSTOMERS who shouldn't have to wait while people like him cash checks. Might I add that his employer is a car dealership so I am sure they give the bank quite a bit of money!

I know how it feels to have to wait for the check to go through when you really needed the money for food. My suggestion would be to cash the payroll checks at the bank they are drawn from. If at all possible, definitely switch to direct deposit. Then the money is there instantly.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
The company I work with does direct deposit, but only after three pay periods. It won't start until Sept. 30, and by then I plan to change banks.

After speaking with DH about it this morning, we're looking into some of the local banks in our area. Part of what makes me so mad is that our original bank was bought by Citizens, and we never had an issue with the original bank. GRRRRR...
post #4 of 19
Unfortunately, I think this is becoming more and more common for those who don't use direct deposit. I know it's the case at my bank if you don't already have an amount equal to or over that paycheck amount. (Who often has THAT available when making a paycheck deposit?!)

Banks go through cycles - they start absurd rules and fees, lose tons of customers, then take them all back because they realize how many they are losing. Then when they get BACK a lot of customers, they tighten up again.

I've been a Bank of America customer since 1995 (back when they were still Nationsbank) but will be closing my account with them in the next month because the idiots are thinking I will go along with a *$10* service charge a month. They have GOT to be kidding me. (I already called them to tell them if they didn't waive the fee, I was gone, so looks like I'm gone as they wouldn't do it)
post #5 of 19
IMHO, this is a pure and simple pressure tactic to force people to go to direct deposit. Why would they do that you ask? Less of a paper trail, if there is a computer "problem" or problem with your employer they're not liable and you end up being the one having to provide the proof. Plus the government has an easier time tracking what is going on in the banking system and your account.
Banks are there to make a profit and we forget that at our peril.
post #6 of 19

I used to work in a bank. Did you ask to speak with the Teller's manager? Sometimes a new employee may not know all the rules. Generally, if your account is in good standing and you have been a customer for a certain amount of time, a manager will agree to waive fees & holds. I think its ridiculous to put a hold on paychecks!

Also, its sad but true, banks don't care very much about the small-time customers who have only one account with them, usually a checking that does not carry a large balance. Unless you have a savings account with a lot of money, have a business account or carry a really large checking balance, they just don't care if they lose you as a customer. Even if you have been with them for many years and don't bounce checks.

Generally smaller 'mom&pop' banks are nicer and care more about even small customers, but often they get bought by the bigger corporations who don't care.
post #7 of 19
Ever since we abandoned banks and joined a credit union, banking has been hassle free for us.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, here's what happened:

I faxed the letter over to their "Priority Response" department, and of course no one got back to me. So, I then went onto the website, cancelled all upcoming epayments (except for the ones coming out next week), and subsequently deleted those payees from our account (after carefully copying down the info, of course).

On the way home, I stopped at the branch and closed our two savings accounts. Granted, there wasn't much in them, but it makes it easier when we go to the new bank to open an account next Friday. The teller actually did ask why I was closing the savings accounts, but when I told her, she didn't offer to get a manager, or in any way ask if there was anything they could do. That clinched it, IMO.

So next Friday, with latest check in hand, we're off to a local bank that's been around for AGES to open a new account. We'll then close out our checking account with Citizens, and all ties will be severed.
post #9 of 19
I don't bank at large banks for that reason :LOL We bank at a small town bank where I know the people that work there. Only ONCE have they placed a hold on a payroll check, and that was b/c it was a handwritten check from Canada for over 3000.00. When I called and asked about it b/c I had house payment and car payment returned they released the hold and paid those checks, also paid the return check fees for me They just didn't realize it was a payroll check b/c it was handwritten and from out of state :LOL
post #10 of 19
I opened a checking account twenty-seven years ago at Hancock Park Bank. Later it became Fidelity Federal; now it is California Bank, a bank that I left after it ate up Surety Savings Bank and People's Bank two years ago.

When I opened the account, I had free checking, free checks, interest paying, free notary service, and tellers that actually seemed to like to be there.

Now I have tellers that do not even speak English well enough to answer any of my questions; when they call out the manager to answer my questions, the manager first asks for two kinds of identification and then proceeds to tell me she cannot help me.

Businesses like banks seem not to value loyalty anymore since the S&L scandal. I am in the process of closing my three checking accounts and four CD's there.

P.S.: All of you California voters out there - Bill Simon made his million$ in the S&L debacle. Keep that in mind on October 7.
post #11 of 19
Credit Unions
post #12 of 19
Very common...and here is the loophole, silly as it is, it works:

Check is for $100.00. On deposit slip write $99.99 or at least one cent less than the checks worth-let's make out $99.00 here-next to CASH on the deposit slip. Sign check and write account number. $99.00 will be deposited as cash immediately and go spend the $1 on yourself! (lol)

This works 99% of the time for me. Occasionally someone may try to give you trouble, but that should only be if you have had deposited checks bounce or you have less than what the check is for in your account. And even that is rare.

BTW, I depoosited my check as a check yesterday and it still hasn't cleared....seee what I get!
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, after speaking with my mother, I've decided to email the letter to the CEO, President of the bank, and the Board Members, with two additions:

(1) I'm emailing it because I can't afford a stamp since my check is on hold

(2) The Priority Response group (Complaints Department) must also have a five-day hold, since no one got back to me OR asked what my issue was when I called for the fax number.

post #14 of 19
Moving this to the Activism forum
post #15 of 19
Bank of America told me more specifically while I was in there this week that they do the fingerprint, $5 fee for check cashing on business account checks. I am already uncomfortable with the fingerprinting and they do that with all checks for non accountholders. I have moved my last remaining account to a local bank who's a Mercantile affiliate, along with our credit union account.

The chasm between the banking-enabled and not are very class-based. Immigrants (even legal ones), ones with past credit problems even if it's caused by a spouse, people that have bounced checks even if they've been paid, are quickly becoming excluded from banking, and ecommerce of any kind. What good is it to try to get banks into red-lined neighborhhods when none of them can qualify, or afford the fees!
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Clarity
The chasm between the banking-enabled and not are very class-based. Immigrants (even legal ones), ones with past credit problems even if it's caused by a spouse, people that have bounced checks even if they've been paid, are quickly becoming excluded from banking, and ecommerce of any kind. What good is it to try to get banks into red-lined neighborhhods when none of them can qualify, or afford the fees!
Odd how the banks set that up, isn't it? The ones who need the most help (low-interest business or housing loans, etc.) cannot afford the documentation or collateral it takes! Makes sense to me - put the bank in front of people who can't use it.

I get more and more disgusted with corporate America every day.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
So, just when I think it's safe to finish out my banking with these clowns...

Monday - they charge me an insufficient funds fee, based on the hold on my paycheck. A little screaming cleared that right up, and the charge was refunded within 10 minutes.

This morning - they charge me $140 for insufficient funds and rescind all online payments that were supposed to have been sent Monday. I, of course, lose it completely and call customer service again (mind you, this is the third time in five business days I've had to do this.) I demand to have the charge refunded, and after listening to a bunch of nonsense about how direct deposit would be so much easier, etc., I am asked if the rep can call me back while she speaks to a manager. I tell her no, that I would prefer to hold on because, judging by the abilities of the Priority Response team to return calls, no one at Citizens is able to do so.

So, the manager gets on the phone and refuses to refund all of the charges - she says she sees no reason to believe that it is a bank error, and will only refund half. Then, she informs me that the refund will not credit right away, which means not only am I out $70 now, but that I have 3-5 business days before the other amount will credit.

At lunch today, I am going to go and close out my account. I have so HAD IT with these people!!!!!
post #18 of 19
Meet with that manager in person. Make an appointment with her and close your accounts, switch your mortage too. Inform her that you will tell everyone you know about your shoddy treatment and their unwillingness to aid their bread and butter clients, and that you will encourage any and all to switch to a more client oriented banking service. Further inform her that she works for you and you have now fired her.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Not a bad idea. Unfortunately, the manager was from the customer service center and not in the area...

But, I did lodge a complaint with the BBB, and call the Priority Response center again. They were more efficient - refunded the money without a quibble, and tonight called to inform me that they'd tracked down the manager and reprimanded her for her behavior. Which may or may not be true, but it sounded good.

So, we go ahead as planned - start the new account at the new bank Friday and then, once all debits have come out of the Citizens account, we close that one completely.
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