In this post, I told you all the woeful tale of dropping the budgeting ball and getting interest, late fees, and overdraft charges, all in the same month. (Oh yeah, read her financial advice. She’s obviously an expert! 😉 ) I told you how it happened, and what I learned but I didn’t really go into much detail about how I got help reversing these fees when I talked to the bank. I’d like to explain that process a little more clearly now because I’m sure many of you have found yourself in a similar situation or may one day. So read on for my tips for talking to the bank.
Don’t Do This Often
The best advice I can give you is this: Don’t let yourself get in this situation frequently or you will not be able to get any help. Bankers work really well with first time offenders. They are willing to work with highly infrequent (like, less than once yearly) offenders. If this is a monthly occurrence, or even once every couple of months occurrence, you will NOT be able to get help. At all. So don’t do that.
Talk to the Person
Yes you are talking to the bank, but the individual who answers the phone when you call is a human. They will likely be following some script or at least talking points and they will have protocols they are supposed to follow, but they are still a person. Don’t treat them like a machine (even if they sound like one) or they will act like a machine.
Get Them to Talk to You Like a Person
Jokewith them, ask them questions, make unusual comments based off something they say. Show emotion and interest. Get them to talk to you like a human so they will see you as a person rather than a problem that called in. This is probably the most important thing you can do to actually get help.
Be Willing to Plead
If there is one part of talking to the bank
that is hard, it is to suck up your pride and beg if you have to. Not like whiny, crying begging but real humble pleading. You have to specifically explain your situation and what happened and then ask, “Is there any way we can reverse this?” or, “Is there anything I can do to get you to help me undo these charges?” or something along those lines. Be specific in your question. Saying, “Can you help me?” or “So what do we do about it? rarely leads to the help you want. Content communicate (that is a link to an article I wrote teaching you how if you need it!) with the banker to get the outcome you desire. If you don’t ask to reverse the charges and only ask for help, they might do something like set you up (or check to see if you’re set up) with overdraft protection and declare you assisted without removing the overdraft charge.
Always Watch Your Tone
It’s easy to call with an unpleasant tone. You are in the middle of an unpleasant experience. Don’t let that show in your voice. If you need to have a “tone” let it be one of desperation and humility. If they sense even a hint of anger or annoyance, kiss your chances of a refund goodbye.
Thank and Praise Until You Feel Embarrassed
I believe I actually said, “Oh bless you!” at some point during this phone call. And that was after profuse thankings. Remember this when talking to the bank – they don’t have to help you. You did this to yourself. You should technically have to deal with the consequences. Anyone doing anything to help you out of the kindness of their hearts deserves all the appreciation you can muster. And then some.
My husband actually came up with this. So in my story, I over drafted an account AND forgot to pay off the credit card which resulted in late fees and interest charges. This is a bonus tip because it only applies to people with issues in more than one account.
Call in twice. Once for the account. Once for the card.
I mean, how many favors can you really ask of one person? They just saved your bacon once, don’t push your luck. Thank them ridiculous amounts, hang up, and call back to talk to another someone.
You might think, “Oh but I got someone nice enough to help me! What if I’m not so lucky next time I call in?” I answer you – risk it! If your neighbor wants to borrow your lawn mower, ok. But then they ask if you have some gas for it and how recently you changed the oil and sharpened the blade, it gets annoying. Don’t be that neighbor. Instead, borrow one neighbor’s mower and another neighbor’s gas. Then neither feels taken advantage of. (And remember the tip to not let this happen frequently!)
Talking With the Bank
If you follow these steps when talking with the bank, you should have much higher chances of success. I know that I have had better luck when using these steps than I did in college when I had no idea about financial ANYTHING and pretty much did it exactly opposite this list.
If you have any other tips that you’ve used when talking to the bank, drop them in the comments below so we can all benefit.