Community Bank wrongly charged some customers ATM fees
Stars and Stripes May 19, 2008
SEOUL — A U.S. Army captain in Seoul says he was wrongfully charged ATM fees for nearly a month at ATMs on U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan, and believes other soldiers also may have been charged.
Capt. Blake Williams, an attorney at Yongsan and a Bank of America customer, said he was charged the $2 ATM fees on transactions made between March 27 and April 14. The seven transactions were made at ATMs owned by Community Bank. Those machines are operated by Bank of America at overseas U.S. military installations.
The money doesn’t bother him, but being told repeatedly by Bank of America that the charges were legal does, Williams said.
Asked about Williams’ claims, Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner said in an e-mail that she couldn’t discuss individual customer issues for privacy reasons.
However, she said Bank of America recently upgraded its ATM system, which "caused an internal coding issue not to transfer."
Because of the coding problem, she said, some military customers were charged extra ATM fees.
"As soon as we were aware of the situation, we took steps to notify and refund our customers," Wagner said.
Williams said he was never notified about the coding problems.
"Their messages were completely at odds" with the ATM fees being created by the so-called coding problem, he said.
Williams opened a Bank of America account in South Carolina before moving to South Korea in 2006, after a bank representative told him he wouldn’t have to pay ATM fees at Yongsan if he was a Bank of America customer.
"I said that pretty much locks it," Williams said. He said he never had been charged for using Yongsan’s Community Bank ATMS until March.
William recounted a series of e-mails between April 3 and April 18, during which the bank first refunded Williams $4 in ATM fees. After that refund, he was charged more ATM fees. And when he complained, bank representative repeatedly said he was being charged because he was using an ATM that was not a Bank of America machine.
According to paperwork provided by Williams, Bank of America customers don’t have to pay ATM fees when using "an ATM that prominently displays the Bank of America name and logo on the ATM."
The ATMs he used clearly state "Operated by Bank of America," he said.
Williams, who switched to another bank in April, told his old bank he might contact Stars and Stripes about the extra charges. Then, on May 1, he received a refund for all the ATM fees.