From our "Why Banks Really, Truly Suck" File:When I left Massachusetts, I kept one bank account open there. The bank with whom I had the account was promptly purchased by another, larger bank. The new bank, Citizen’s Bank, decided to start changing the structure of the fees associated with my account (from none to some, basically), so it became time to close the account.

My sorry tale begins in early August when I called the bank to determine the properly sanctioned bank procedure to close my account. After wading through touch-tone Hell, I spoke with a representative who suggested that I travel to my "home" branch in Somerville, MA and they could help me close the account. I explained that I was three thousand miles away, so my "home" branch wasn’t overly convenient. The representative then suggested that I write a letter to branch asking them to close the account and send me a check for the balance. This sounded reasonable, so I wrote the letter and mailed it. Three weeks went by with no sign of any check, so I called again. This time, after wading through touch-tone Hell again and explaining my situation to a different rep., she explained that any given branch more likely than going to actively ignore any mail that they got. This rep. suggested that I write myself a check for the balance of the account and the account would be closed automatically once it reached a zero balance for three months. I questioned whether this would really work since I’d then be credited interest on the account, and subsequently a balance fee, which would prevent the account from being at a zero balance. This rep. suggested that if I wrote and cashed the check before 11 Sep 00 that I wouldn’t be credited interest or assessed a balance fee. Of course, she was wrong or lying or both. I was credited interest and assessed a balance fee, which actually brought the account to a negative value. So, a third call to the bank. Touch-tone Hell, different rep. Explain the situation again. "Oh, we’re so sorry. I’ll take care of it right now. No problem." "How will I know that this has been done?" " Oh, you won’t. You just won’t get a statement." Today I got another statement. The previous rep. had credited my account for the negative balance twice, thereby giving it positive balance, which earned interest, and also another balance fee, which gave me another negative balance. Aaargh! Call the bank again. Wait for it…touch-tone Hell, different rep. "Oh, we’re so sorry. I’ll take care of it right now. No problem." "How will I know that this has been done?" "Oh, you won’t. You just won’t get a statement." "No, I’ve played this game before. How can I find out, definitively, that this has been done without traveling across the country to double check your work?" "Well, I guess you could call back in two weeks. It takes us about that long to close an account." And we wonder why banks don’t get the Internet? Two weeks is about 13 days too long for something as simple as closing an account.