What I learned from a $12.50 bank fee

Erin’s note: When I started this post, it seemed like a rant. But it turned out that I was sharing a life lesson. I’m glad I wrote it the way I did, I wanted to stay to true to the tone of piece which is why I didn’t edit my beginning. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

For the most part, I try to keep my blog posts positive and fun. I’m not going to lie. This a rant. Perhaps, it’s a rant, I will regret. But nonetheless, it needs to be said.

It blows my mind what banks are allowed to get away with. I recently had an experience where Wells Fargo charged me $12.50 to transfer money from my savings to my checking account. That’s right, I was charged to transfer my OWN money. It wasn’t Wells Fargo’s money that I was lent  because of an overdraft. It was simply a transfer fee. That’s utterly ridiculous.

When I called to dispute the fee, I was told that’s “how they do business.” Not in those words—more like “We’re sorry, unfortunately, this is a service that is charged according to the guidelines established with Wells Fargo”—which is just the polite way of saying that’s “how they do business.”

I was so furious; I sent an email to the company. Usually, I just huff and puff, and go on about my business. But I have recently had a string of incidents where companies have been charging me outrageous fees or just overcharging me. I’m currently filing an appeal with my insurance company about a hospital that overcharged me by $157. I went for an annual exam, and I was also charged for an office visit. When I asked why I was charged for an office visit, I never received any specific explanation on my statement or in any of the correspondence with the hospital. I had to take action.

I’m absolutely tired of companies overcharging people for services and getting away with it. I think as consumers we should be more proactive about disputing charges that aren’t justified for services we receive. If it’s not clearly spelled out on my bill, I’m going to start asking questions.

It’s time to fight back. Stand up and ask, “Can you explain what I’m being charged for?” Research. Google. Ask questions. Compare prices. Sometimes as consumers we just take the word of the “expert” or “professional,” rather than exploring the truth on our own.

I had a friend who was sick, and battling what she thought as a cold, the doctors were so nonchalant about referring her to a specialist. I kept pushing her to go. I told her if they won’t fight for you, fight for yourself. There are many fantastic health professionals and clinics in the world, but at the end of the day, health care is a business too. And if you’re sick, you’re going to keep coming back and that keeps business going.

It seemed that they were gladly pocketing her insurance money without really helping her to get better. She finally pushed back, and she was referred to a specialist. She found out she had a sinus infection that requires more medical attention, perhaps surgery.  She was sick for almost two months before she got to see a specialist. That’s insane.

I had a similar experience last summer, when I had to have emergency surgery to remove three uterine fibroids. For nine months, I kept going to the doctor explaining that I was having unusual symptoms—bleeding from the navel, severe cramps, incredible bloating—I was ignored. My symptoms were consistently dismissed. “Bleeding from the navel? You have a cut on your belly button,” said one ER physician. Seriously? A cut that doesn’t stop bleeding for months?  I was never tested; no one wanted to give me an ultra sound or even X-ray.

It wasn’t until I was in an ER for the third time, crying, visibly in pain, and demanding that I be treated that I finally got the help I needed. I thank God that those doctors helped me. That is one of the experiences that remind me to be grateful for my life.

I’ve already digressed quite a bit. Here’s my point: I fought. My friend fought. We have to fight.

We can’t always accept our bills, our diagnosis or our circumstances as they are.  We must dig deeper and question what’s being presented to us. Pray about it, seek spiritual guidance and let people know that you demand answers and clarity. It might not only save you a $12.50 service fee, it might save your life.

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