Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why bank regulation authors will get the lowest circle in hell

A Burger King restaurant tried to correct a whopper of a mistake on a debit card charge, but of course, banking rules take priority over swift justice. As explained in this AP story:

Four burgers at his neighborhood Burger King cost George Beane a whopping $4,334.33.

Beane ordered two Whopper Jr.s and two Rodeo cheeseburgers when he pulled up to the drive-through window last Tuesday. The cashier, however, forgot that she'd entered the $4.33 charge on his debit card and punched in the numbers again without erasing the original ones _ thus creating a four-figure bill.

The electronic charge went through to George and Pat Beane's Bank of America checking account and left the couple penniless. Their mortgage payment was due and they worried checks they had written would bounce, Pat Beane said.

Not to worry, said Burger King. We'll refund the money to your account.

Not so fast, said the bank.

Terri Woody, the restaurant manager, said Burger King officials tried to get the charge refunded. But the bank said the funds were on a three-day hold and could not be released, Pat Beane said.

The hold is designed to prevent customers from spending money that no longer is available in their accounts and to let the bank confirm a transaction is legitimate before transferring funds, said Bank of America supervisor Joel Solorio.

Nevermind that Burger King was willing to vouch for the legitimacy of its actions. But at least the story ends well.

Burger King did not charge the Beanes for their meal, and the couple got their $4,334.33 back on Friday.

"For those three days, those were the most expensive value burgers in history," Pat Beane said.

The "three-day hold" rule has got to be the most asinine, consumer-unfriendly regulation on the face of the earth. Don't even want to hear about how the regulation originally was designed to correct some problem or another. It's archaic, it gives the bank three days of interest-free money it can play with, and it's just plain wrong most of the time.


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