Banking on fees

If you’re a long-time listener to Minnesota Public Radio, perhaps you had the same reaction as I did to the story of the judge who ordered Wells Fargo to pay back over $203 million in fees for overdraft charges. That is: “What took you so long?”

It was 13 years ago — 13 years ago! — that Minnesota Public Radio’s Bill Catlin documented Norwest Bank’s (Norwest became Wells Fargo) practice to “clear” big checks first so that — presumably — a bunch of little checks would bounce, at $21 a pop.

But it was hardly a process unique to Norwest/Wells Fargo. Many banks engaged in the practice.

Apparently, many banks still do, according to Green Bay financial consultant Mary Winingham:

So I called Associated Bank – a Wisconsin Based Bank-where I have my checking account and asked how they would handle this for my accounts. They use the same process as Wells Fargo. The manager at my local branch indicated that they do that so that your mortgage, car payments and bills – typically your larger checks – get processes first. Those are the transactions that have the biggest impact on your credit rating..

Another case similar to the Wells Fargo case is about to get underway in Florida where more than a dozen banks are accused of doing the same thing.

Wells Fargo intends to appeal this week’s ruling

  • John P.

    I’m sure the banks only have our interests at heart.

  • bsimon

    “I’m sure the banks only have our interests at heart.”

    They’re quite principled.

  • Lesli in Minneapolis

    I’m sure they’ll appreciate those sentiments.