Why do banks nickel and dime us?!

I was very annoyed today in having to pay $12 to a bank to cash a check drawn from their establishment!

In an accounting error, my work direct deposit was not made into my credit union checking account. When I notified my boss, she promptly cut me a check… no problem, right? Wrong!

Because I had scheduled some autodraft payments today, I had to deposit cash into my credit union account to avoid a hold (which would have resulted in bounced payments). So, since my check was written from an Iberia Bank, I found one branch nearby, and went there to cash it. I happened to have my insurance reimbursement check on hand too – also an Iberia check from www.detroitharmonie.com. They charged me $6 per check to cash these.

I asked the banker what the fee was for, and here’s how the convo went

Me: Why am I being charged a fee, this is an Iberia bank and an Iberia check.

Banker: It’s like how we charge members for having a low balance. Same thing.

Me: I don’t have a low balance, I am asking for the cash one of your clients promised to me by signing this check. If the signee doesn’t have enough to cover the check, I am sure you will just not cash it – you wouldn’t lend them money to pay me, and then charge me $6 to do so, right?

Banker: Open an account here and I can waive the fee.

Me: But then I would have a low balance, because I don’t want to bank with you. I just want this money, and I don’t feel I am doing anything to support a surcharge to receive it.

Banker: ((Blank Stare))

Me: I am just wondering what my fee is covering. Nobody is doing extra work to give me the money, nothing is being “rushed,” I don’t have a low balance… I am not asking for an extra service.

Banker: I don’t know. But there is a $6 fee per check. I am sorry I can only waive the fee if you have an account here, even if there’s no money in the account.

Basically, he couldn’t tell me why I should pay them to give me money that one of their clients authorized. I don’t understand why bypassing the need for Iberia to wire money to my bank to give to me should cost me anything at all.

They wouldn’t waive the fee, and I ate it to avoid any bounced payments… but ugh! This seems totally illegal. How can you charge me for this Iberia (or any bank!)?!

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