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I opened a bank account with Key Bank long ago when they offered a free iPod with each new account. I was maybe 13, 14? and pretty excited about the free iPod just for opening the account. $99 worth of free, and as a teenager, it was worth it all the way – and off I went to Key Bank to open my account there and get my first Credit Card.

I was pretty happy with the account over the years. Later on, however, things started to get a bit messy.

First, there was the method of avoiding the monthly fees. This required eight transactions per month to keep the account fee-free. So my banker helped me set up monthly auto-transfers, as they had been doing with most of their customers. So I had $10 going out and then back in my account, five times/month.

It was always a bit frustrating to sift through these transactions. When budgeting or looking over my account statements, there were eight additional transactions I had to look over each month. It felt a little silly that I had to transfer $10 in and out like that. After several years, I didn’t use my account much and this is what my statement began to look like:


It was a mess of transfers in and out.

Second, notice the $7.00 service fee on the 17th of March? That wasn’t supposed to happen. I called Key Bank to ask them about the charge and the customer support rep said:

“You have 9 transactions for this cycle, and you should not have been charged a maintenance fee.”

She tried to refund it, but since it was over three months ago, the system wouldn’t allow it. She apologized and recommend that I check my statement each month.

I felt so frustrated that I had to keep tabs on my bank to ensure they weren’t erroneously charging me fees.

I went into a local branch to see if they could help. The personal banker I spoke to said she couldn’t refund the fee. She verified that I had enough transactions in my account that month and should not have been charged that fee. She also only had access to refund fees three months back. She said she wasn’t sure who I should talk to, but possibly the branch where I opened the account. So I called the branch where I opened my account. They couldn’t help either.

Its not an issue of recovering an erroneously charged $7 maintenance fee. Its an issue of: “Can I trust my bank?”

To feel that I have to keep track of the actions they take is frustrating. At the time, I was billing at $75/hour. I spent several hours just researching whether or not these charges were correct – looking at my account, calling in, researching fees, etc. It wasn’t worth my time. Yet the principle of it bothered me.

ThirdI got an auto loan with Key and everything went swimmingly. The personal banker I worked with was great. However, when it came time to sell the car, pay off the loan, and get the title, it was a bit of a mess. There was such a long delay in receiving the title on my car. I dealt with a frustrated buyer for almost 2 months. He received a fine. I spent hours on the phone with Key, trying to learn the status of my title and to get it sent to me. It was stuck in processing for months.

Then there was the fact that I wanted to consolidate my accounts. I had another account that I was using as my primary account and when these things happened with Key Bank, I just didn’t see a need to keep the accounts opened. I believe finances are meant to be simple. And having multiple accounts, especially accounts that I wasn’t using and wasn’t happy with, made things more complex. So I closed my accounts. My checking, savings, and line of credit.

There were many good things about Key Bank, and I’m grateful to the many bankers and tellers who were great at what they did. Key Bank helped me many times and I’ve been very thankful for those. But when I started to use my account less and less, the negatives were things I just felt I shouldn’t have to deal with. These weren’t huge things, I know, but I was confident there was a better way when it came to banking.