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Illinois Teen Learns About Bank Fees the Hard Way

Daniel Ganziano's $5 bank account racked up $200 in fees.

ByABC News
December 13, 2011, 9:46 AM

Dec. 13, 2011 — -- Melinda Ganziano of McCullom Lake, Ill., wanted to introduce her son to the basics of banking, but he ended up with $229 in fees in two weeks with a balance of just $4.85.

Ganziano, a 55-year-old mother of five children, encouraged her fourth child, Daniel, 18, to set up a savings account at a nearby TCF Bank "out of convenience" due to its location.

Ganziano and her son discovered that the bank offered little convenience due to the growing number of bank fees, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

After he put money into the savings accont from his job, Daniel Ganziano's balance eventually fell to $4.85 and with such a small amount, he ignored it.

However, TCF sent him a letter on Oct. 12 informing him that it had charged him a $9.95 monthly maintenance fee six days earlier because the account had a low balance. That led to an overdrawn account by $5.10, which then led to a $28-a-day overdraft fee. The account was 10 cents over the $5 threshold for which the daily fee kicks in. Young Ganziano's account was now overdrawn by $33.10.

Ganziano, who works in the nonprofit sector, and her son went to the bank that weekend to close his account, the Tribune reported. But they first had to pay the accumulated fees, which totaled $229.10.

Ganziano, who banks elsewhere, asked for the fees to be waived, but the bank would eliminate only one of the $28 daily charges.

"They would just not cooperate," Ganziano told ABC News. "We were trying to teach him the right thing. If he had overdrawn by himself I would have made him pay the fees, but it wasn't him."

She also learned that her older son, who had a balance of $0, would also be charged a monthly fee so they closed his account, too. Daniel Ganziano wanted to fight it by not paying the fees.

"But we said we have to take care of it and get out," his mother said.

She decided to pay the $229.10 in fees for Daniel's account and was told a regional supervisor would call her. After not hearing from TCF by mid-November, Ganziano contacted Jon Yates, a reporter who writes the "What's Your Problem" column at the Chicago Tribune.

Soon, a TCF representative called Melinda Ganziano and agreed to send her a check for the $229.10.

Jason Korstange, a spokesman for TCF said the bank recently switched from charging people $35 for every overdraft to $28 per day for up to 14 days when an account has insufficient funds.

"If we had done it by hand, someone probably would have said, 'Oh it's just 10 cents, let's not worry about it,'" Korstange told the Chicago Tribune. "But we process millions of transactions a day, and there has to be a cutoff number."

Korstange said if the Ganzianos had gone to another branch, a different TCF worker might have refunded the overdraft fees when they first visited. TCF told ABC News it had no additional comment.

Ganziano said her older son learned "banks are not the way they used to be."

"You have to check them out really well," she said.