I recently received my bank statement from one of the passbook accounts that I own. My initial deposit of $200 was down to $152. Apparently, I was charged for having a "dormant" account which then put my total below the required minimum of $200. Because the account had fallen below this minimum, I now was being charged extra for having the account. Naturally, I was a bit upset. I thought that you put money in the bank to grow the account, not watch it go down.

I took my passbook and went out to the branch of North Shore Bank. The teller informed me that the woman who handled dormant accounts was gone for the day but she would be in the next morning. I left my passbook with my phone number and asked her to call. She did not call the next day.She called two days later and patiently explained their "policy" to charge dormant accounts and accounts that went below $200. I informed her that I had no knowledge of the dormant policy and my account wasn't under $200 until they dipped into my savings. She said, "With all due respect, the information regarding the policies was in the fine print when you opened the account."

"Oh, come on," I replied. "No one reads that."

"Well, regardless, there is nothing I can do. You must have activity at least once a year to avoid going dormant."

"Forward me to your supervisor, please."

The supervisor, Stephanie Miller then came on the line. She informed me that there absolutely was no way to do "anything" about 2008 but she could refund $10 for 2009.

"That's ridiculous," I said. "You can do anything you want and can easily adjust this."

"With all due respect (I'm getting a lot of respect here)," she said. "You are lucky I am doing this."

Well, I thought about all this and decided to take one more making this right. I called the regional office and left a message. I received a call back about 35 minutes later. The woman on the line, Kathy Storzk, informed me she had already spoken to the folks at the North Shore branch. I thought, "Oh boy, her mind is made up."

To my surprise, she said, "I told them to put themselves in the customer's shoes. We didn't even collect for dormant accounts until a couple of months ago. This is all new. And I'm sure no one explained it when you opened the account. I am refunding the full amount and flagging your account so this does not happen again."

You could have knocked me off the chair. That really is what customer service is about, especially in a slow economy. Think about what it is like for the customer.

I highly suggest that you look at YOUR accounts and make sure new charges aren't digging into your money.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.

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