how to ask bank to forgive (correct) low balance fees?
December 11, 2019 10:35 PM   Subscribe

(This is a very bougie question. I apologize.) I stopped using a bank account, and didn't notice that Chase has charged me a couple dozen dollars of low balance fees over the last few months. I have multiple orders of magnitude more than enough money to meet the balance requirements in another account at the same bank. Is there any way to ask Chase to forgive my low balance fees, just to be nice to me? How would I phrase that request?

When I got married, my wife was much more financially literate, so she took over the family finances and consolidated everything into a couple of new joint accounts. I initially left enough in my personal account to meet the minimum balance requirement, but because I stopped reviewing the statements monthly (I know, I know) I didn't notice a couple of autopay things that nibbled away at the balance until I went below the minimum.

So I opened the statements up for my quarterly review, and found that I've been paying low balance fees for the last three months. I've instructed a transfer to bring me over the minimum balance, so the immediate problem is sorted.

People are telling me that I can just ask the bank to give me the fees back, but are unable to provide more explicit guidance than, "just ask for it?" Apparently, I'm rich enough now that banks will just do me favors like that.

Can the hive mind confirm that this is a real thing, and provide some model language for this request? I have no idea how to do this.
posted by meaty shoe puppet to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Hi, I saw $fees on my account. Would it be possible to reverse them this one time?"

Same with if they want to charge a fee for a service, e.g. a cashier's check. "Would it be possible to waive that fee this time?"

source: have used both; have also been confused by finances.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:42 PM on December 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

In terms of how, call the customer service number, tell them you were checking your statement and just now noticed the fees, you already arranged to move in enough money to come up to the minimum and ask if there is a way you could get fees waived on a one time basis.

You might also add (before you ask to waive the fees) that you have several joint accounts with them totally $x (in order words, as a customer you are worth to them than just the minimum.

Also maybe ask if there is a way to avoid the minimum balance fee based on the total amount of your accounts with them. Might not work since one is individual and the others are joint but it doesn't hurt to ask. I just opened some accounts with Bank of the West and they are set up for that.
posted by metahawk at 10:51 PM on December 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

Also, temporarily suspend the bougie guilt, it will stop you from asking in a convincing way. Ask it in a polite way that signals you find it a reasonable request. (And it is.)
posted by Omnomnom at 11:11 PM on December 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Psychologically, remember that they look at your account, see how much they're making off you, see what it would cost to retain you as a customer (i.e. waive your fee), and decide that it is a good business decision.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:31 PM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tell tem you noticed the fee, that you have more than the minimum in a joint ccount and ask them to link the accounts for fee purposes and to reverse the several months of charges.
posted by AugustWest at 11:37 PM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've had the best luck showing up to a branch in person, if you're able.
posted by 8603 at 3:31 AM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it helps with the nervousness about asking, when I was a broke college student with a student bank account I accidentally over drafted and incurred a $40 fee. Someone told me I could just ask to get it reversed as it was my first one so I did and they did without question or argument. There was no special wording other than saying it was the first and only time I had done that. I think maybe I also had to deposit enough money to bring it back to 0 but I can’t remember for sure. On another occasion a few years later I paid my credit card bill a few days late and was hit with late payment fees. I called them up and asked to have those forgiven as it was my first time and they did it easily. I think they have flexibility in these things to retain customers. You have a much better position than a careless student with limited income.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:36 AM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

In person will be better. Those folks at the teller are real face to face human customer service reps. If you're polite, happy, and a little self effacing they'll easily reverse and won't need any convincing. "Hi I'm meaty shoe, feel so silly for asking but in all the whirlwind of getting married i lost track of this account amongst the other my partner and I have with you as we merged things... Ughh such a busy time!! Anyway, I already moved money in to cover the overdraft and I was wondering since I've never done this before if there's any way you could forgive those fees? It would mean a lot to me!"

Not bougie at all by the way. Good luck!
posted by chasles at 4:32 AM on December 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

I do it ALL the time.

Remember: they are HAPPY to have an opportunity to give you great customer service that retains you as a customer.

"It looks like I got distracted and let that balance go too low. [Optional cute excuse.] Could you be sweet and cancel these charges? I would be so grateful."
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:36 AM on December 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have called my credit union numerous times to get fees waived. Some of this was their fault (enrolled me in auto-transfer automatically when they had a rollout, I would have preferred they declined my debit card purchase instead of pulling from savings and charging me $30 to make a $5 purchase). Once we had an issue with a check and our landlord and needed to stop payment (this was not rent - this was for a one-time use of a building amenity that was not available as scheduled). Once was with a Bank of America account that I had for international travel use when they changed their fee structure and started charging me.

In all cases, I guilt-free asked for a reversal/waiver of charges. My attitude generally has been "would it be possible to [waive fee/reverse the fee] for this issue this time," and there has never been an issue. In the case of BofA, which I thought would be an issue, they waived the fees, let me close the account, and sent me a check for the remaining funds.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:05 AM on December 12, 2019

I called Chase yesterday, prompt courteous customer service. I don't say that often.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 AM on December 12, 2019

At Chase, I was able to have a fee reversed over the phone the first time. The second time I did it at a branch, since I also wanted to change the type of account I had.

But both times, they were happy to do it. In fact, because I was switching to a type of account that didn’t offer free checks, they made sure to order new checks for me before making the switch. Easy, and I certainly didn’t have any guilt about politely requesting that a giant corporation help a longtime customer.
posted by elphaba at 8:04 AM on December 12, 2019

I have had various fees waived by customer service people over the phone just by asking nicely. Sometimes they need to escalate to a manager to approve the fee waiver, sometimes not. They will always warn you that it is a "one time courtesy." (By which they really mean "certainly not more than once within a year or two; don't make a habit of it.") You don't actually have to be particularly wealthy or have an extraordinary amount of assets with the bank to get this sort of favor, they will extend it to pretty much any customer who appears to be remotely financially stable.

Just tell them that you didn't realize that auto-payments had eaten away at your minimum balance and that you're horrified to see that you've now racked up fees. Say that you know that the fees are your fault, but is there any way they can waive at least some of them?

Note: There are some types of fees that simply cannot be waived. I don't think that low balance fees fall into this category, but if they say that it's truly not possible, don't argue.
posted by desuetude at 8:08 AM on December 12, 2019

fingersandtoes: " they are HAPPY to have an opportunity to give you great customer service that retains you as a customer. "

And remember -- you don't have to stay with Chase! If they're declining to do something reasonable like waive these fees -- prioritizing their profit over retaining you -- you should seriously consider going elsewhere.
posted by crazy with stars at 8:29 AM on December 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

If the "speaking with a person" part is contributing to your unease: if you can access this bank account online, use the chat feature to make your perfectly-reasonable request.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:03 PM on December 12, 2019

Wow, I have never been so pissed off to be treated politely.

I went to a branch and explained that I had made a mistake transferring some funds between accounts and dipped below the minimum balance. Before I could say another word, he asked for my ID, looked up my accounts, and started refunding me the fees. Then he gave me some promotional material for a fancier account, because my combined balance qualifies me for a bunch of perks like free checks.

My apprehension was not due to guilt over depriving the bank of its hard-earned fees. It was pessimism that they would give me the time of day, much less any money back if they had the slightest excuse to keep it. I have never previously experienced the bank as anything other than some adversarial entity trying to nickel and dime me at every turn.

Turns out if you have enough money, people fall over themselves to give you more.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:08 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Credit unions, rather than big banks, might appeal to you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2019

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