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Please begin with an informative title:

I wanted to share a story about a problem with a bank (this is a rant and as such is not entirely logical but it feels good to get it off my chest).

2 years ago I received a UMB "gift card" for years of service from my place of employment. I almost immediately misplaced the card and rediscovered it earlier today.

Upon discovery, I said, "Yay - $75.00," and called to activate it. After waiting, navigating menus and speaking to someone who refused to spell my name correctly, I eventually learned that the value of the gift card (which I had never activated and still could not use) had been reduced to $30.00 due to inactivity fees.

"What the hell," I asked "is an inactivity fee?"

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The person on the other end explained the math (15 months of inactivity x $3.00 per month) had been subtracted from my "gift" because I was not using it during the time I had not activated it and did not know I had it.

I thanked the gentleman on the other end of the line for the math lesson, but asked for an explanation of why the fee existed. He could not answer and eventually passed me on to his supervisor at a call center in Iowa.

The supervisor helpfully explained the math again, but when asked why this policy existed all she could say was it was part o the terms and conditions and there was nothing she could do.  I asked who got the money - her business or my employer. She said "the bank" keeps the money. I asked, you mean "your bank - UMB bank?" and she said yes. I asked if she could explain why a fee was being collected for no activity on my part or the part of the bank. She could not explain it. I suggested that since this was my money and I let them keep it and use it for their various bank purposes, they should actually owe me interest, not the other way around. I asked why the policy existed and she said she could not explain it, did not agree with it (and would restore the value of my card of she could) but there was nothing to be done.

Well, there's always something to be done. In my case, I called my friend in Human Resources, told him about the experience (and no, I'm not the only one this has ever happened to) and suggested we find someone else to partner with in the future other than UMB bank. It may not make a difference in the long run, but it made me feel better.

So yes, on the one hand I have $30.00 left that I didn't know I had until earlier today. I certainly understand the perspective that I should be happy, use the card to go by dinner and let it go.

On the other hand, inactivity fees, in my opinion, seem to be an unethical business practice.  Now that I know UMB engages in this behavior, they will not get my business in the future.

So why waste your time with a story about $45.00 in fees?

As we look to leaders like Elizabeth Warren who fights these kind of practices, I think it would be helpful to make a list of these micro-practices that are designed to suck people dry one small fee at a time.

So, I will start the list with inactivity fees by UMB bank.

Anyone else have stories to share?

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