Is there anyone out there besides me who wonders what the rules for the banking industry are? Other than to line it’s pockets at our expense, I mean. I can’t believe that, in this day and age, an industry so blatantly monopolistic and self serving has escaped anti-trust challenges.

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever had a disagreement with your bank? Of course you have. Have you ever succeeded in winning an argument with your bank? Of course not. Have you ever moved to another bank because of such an occurrence? Probably not, because no matter which policy it is you disagree with, they all have the same one. Want to bank after 4 PM? Not in this country. Want a higher rate of return on your savings account? Don’t bother, everywhere you go savings account rates are “calcuated at x% over the current federal lending percentage”, and oddly enough, “x” is always the same number.

And forget about using your ATM card without incurring a fee. This is quite possibly the largest piece of bait-and-switch ever foisted upon the American public. For years, banks touted ATM’s as the ultimate solution to after hours banking, convenience, and freedom from carrying dangerously large sums of money. After years of constant assault, we began to use, and eventually to rely on, these machines. We even bought into the concept of paying for our money when we went to a machine which didn’t belong to our bank. Then one day, people began receiving notices from their banks saying that from now on, there would be a withdrawal fee even when we went to our own bank’s machines. I, for one, began calling other banks immediately, only to find that all of them had instituted precisely the same policy at the same time.

Then came the day I bounced a check because an automated transfer from one of my own accounts went through only 23 hours beforehand, and 24 hours were required for the transfer to clear. Of course, I had no idea of this for two weeks, until they deigned to send me a notice, at which time I immediately deposited a check to myself to cover the bounced check for recashing, since I had already made purchases based on the ATM’s balance without checking my check book. Two weeks later, of course, I received another notice that THE SAME check had bounced, since they attempted to recash it less than 48 hours after I had deposited this second transfer. According to the rather smug person I spoke to on the phone, this new extended clearance period was because I had used a check instead of an electronic transfer to deposit the money.

With all this, I might still have been able to control my temper had it not been for the fact that this $50 check had now cost me $30 in fees, and the bill still hadn’t been paid; and to top it all off, with investments and savings, I had over $25,000 on deposit with this bank, but was denied overdraft protection on the troublesome account BECAUSE I HAD BOUNCED SO MANY CHECKS!

Upon contacting other banks, I found that all of them would have done exactly the same thing, so I had no hope of obtaining better treatment somewhere else. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems more than a little coincidental that all prices and policies in the banking industry are precisely the same from one bank to another. In any other industry, this would be considered monopolistic price setting, and the Justice Department would crush them.

Perhaps the answer lies in that the banks directly or indirectly control a huge portion of all politicians’ campaign funds?