Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End of Whitney Bank

For me, anyway. I've been a Whitney customer since just after Hurricane Katrina, when my previous, friendly bank, Hibernia, was bought out by Capital One. I had a number of lost deposits and other strange incidents, so I moved everything to Whitney, because I wanted to support a local institution. I opened a savings account, and when the Sula Foundation was formed, the account was at Whitney as well. And I did all of this in spite of relatively small incidents that should have shaken my confidence, but for some reason did not. For example, the paperwork for the Sula account was filed incorrectly, then had to be redone. And the savings account was opened incorrectly and mistakenly given a checking account number instead of a savings number. Then there was trouble accessing the Sula account online, which required multiple phone calls and registrations and still doesn't work. In fact, there seemed to be a general lack of knowledge of exactly how to open any accounts.

But they were generally nice people. And it was local.

But this week, I deposited a fairly large check, and the following day discovered an erroneously negative balance in my account. In seemed that a hold had been placed on the entire amount of the check, and then the entire amount had been deducted from my balance. A double hold. So I called and the first person I spoke to thought that deducted the amount of a deposit made sense. I explained why it did not. Then I asked that someone call me back to correct the situation. No one called. Finally I got a hold of someone at a few minutes before 4pm on a Friday. Incredibly rude, the woman explained that a hold would remain on the deposit for eight days, and that no portion of the amount would released until then. I've never had a deposit in which no portion of the funds were available for nearly two weeks. But the rude woman explained that since the bank the check was drawn on was unfamiliar to them, they had no way of knowing if the amount would clear. This is nonsense. They do have access to this information, and the obscure bank she was dealing with was The Bank of New York. She suggested that I contact the Bank of New York myself, and obtain confirmation that the funds had cleared, and then they might credit my account. And I will do that. And then I'll withdraw all of my money, redirect my direct deposit, and do business somewhere else.

4 comments:

Jazz said...

I've never had any issues with Chase. Try them.

MHaus said...

Ken, Unless the account on which the hold was placed was 30 days or less old, OR Whitney had knowledge that the check you deposited may be dishonored (they have to have pretty specific knowledge, like confirmation from Bank of New York), OR the check was for more than $5,000, Whitney violated a banking regulation called Regulation CC. This is basic banking 101.

When you opened your account you would have received a disclosure called a "Funds Availability" policy or something similarly worded -- take a look at it. If you no longer have it, it has to be made available in their banking lobby as a takeaway brochure (it may also be on their website). In all but the case where the account is new, Whitney must make $100 of the funds available each business day until the full amount is made available to you. I believe the 8 days may be excessive.

Another possibility for an extended hold would be if the check was payable to someone else who then endorsed it over to the foundation (a third party check).

I would definitely suggest moving your accounts because the people, albeit nice, are definitely incompetent. A letter to their primary regulator wouldn't hurt either.

Bankers like that give the rest of us a bad name (as if it wasn't bad enough already).

Stick to your guns.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I too wanted to bank locally. Try Gulf Coast Bank. They loaned me money to fix my house when no one else would, and they've branches everywhere.

kfoz said...

The check was well over $5000 and it was written to me and deposited into my personal account--which also has a linked "reserve account" to cover overdrafts. It makes no sense to me that they wouldn't at least give me $100 out of the full amount.

Meanwhile, I went to Chase on Saturday and waited fifteen minutes without getting anyone's attention. Then I went to Regions and had a checking and savings account in ten minutes.