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July, 2011

Jul 11

The introvert’s guide to getting out of bank fees

Do you wind up paying bank fees because you’re introverted, shy, quiet, or just too well bred to complain about such things?  There’s no need to pay the fees.  Here’s how to get out of them.

I recently bounced a check because I chose the wrong account in the online bill paying process (I have two accounts with that bank, one of which I rarely use).  I had tons of money in the other account.  I got hit with a $35 fee and a warning that they would hit me with another fee if I did not make the account cash positive in five days.

This fee annoyed me.  I started with this bank  in 1998, how dare they charge me anything?

I decided to get out of the fee, with a modified version of the script from the best personal finance blog ever.  I say modified because the past few times that I’ve used Ramit’s script verbatim it hasn’t worked, so I changed it to fit the situation and my conversational strengths.

Here’s what I did

First I put money in the account to show good faith and put myself on the moral high ground.  Then I waited two days.

Then I called, somewhat awkwardly (I’m not great at this sort of thing, but I’m getting better) and asked nicely for the bank to remove the fee.  The customer service rep very nicely refused.

I then

  1. Explained what happened, telling him how I made an innocent mistake
  2. Told him I have money in the other account, (politely saying I’m not a deadbeat)
  3. Reminded him that I demonstrated good faith by putting money in the account (politely saying I won’t bounce another check)
  4. Told him that I expect the fee to be removed (politely saying I know my position in the relationship with them)
  5. Went into a detailed history of my dealings with this bank for the past many years
  6. Name dropped (I made up the names) the people I have dealt with at the bank over the years

Then I come to a full stop and enjoyed the silence, waiting for him to move next.  Note, I did not end with a question.  This is key.  If you end on a question, people can give you a short answer.  If you bury the question within a wall of statements,  people feel obligated to refute your entire argument (which took me about five minutes to deliver).  Did he check with his supervisor if it was okay to refund the money “Just this once”?  Yes he did.

Why did all of this work?  I emphasized

  • I was a good, loyal client
  • Management notices when long-standing clients leave
  • I was nice
  • I was long winded
  • To tell me no again would extend the call by at least ten minutes, I clearly had all the time in the world and he had no clear reason to hang up on me
  • All it would take to get me to go away is the refund

If they are going to bend the rules for someone, they are going to bend them for me, so they did.

The takeaway:- If you’re long-winded and don’t end with a question you make customer service do more work, which they don’t want to do, so they give in.  Try it out.

PS – the code word for this type of fee forgiveness is “Relationship Refund“.


Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog - as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.

Jul 11

What having a daughter taught me about business – Part I

My wife and I (mostly her) had out first child (a girl) five months ago.   For various reasons we take her to lots of doctors, including four specialists, I thought I would share a bit of what I’ve learned on the topic of doctors and specialization by having a daughter.


  1. You have to wait every time
  2. Doctors do only medical work
  3. Doctors only do a small percentage of the medical work, the majority of the work (blood pressure, measurements, samples, etc) is done by nurses and PAs.
  4. If it can be measured, a doctor does not do it.  They make determinations, not observations
  5. Specialization is advertised,
  6. Generalization is practiced, but not advertised
  7. Everyone is perfectly content to treat you like cattle UNTIL you see the doctor.  Then you are special.  Once the doctor leaves you’re back to being cattle
  8. Everyone we’ve encountered got there via a referral from some other doctor
  9. The dress code (white lab coat) is universally followed
  10. People love going to the best person in the building/city/state/country

What have I learned from the above observations?

  1. Being the best, and being known as the best is the crucial thing, even is what you are the best at is a very narrow field.
  2. Being known as the best requires maintenance, and constant attention to detail.
  3. Your client should only see you in your area of expertise, nothing else, let other people be seen doing the boilerplate work

Much, much more to come..


Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog - as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.

Jul 11

How much is a client worth to your business?

One feature of my new web app is the evaluation of clients. At the moment I have the following criteria:

  1. Effective rate on their projects
  2. Size of billing
  3. Payment speed
  4. Amount learned on their projects
  5. Fun had on their projects

Am I missing anything? Does anyone have any thoughts on how these criteria should be ranked?

Update: I have more thoughts about how much is a client worth in this newer post.


Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog - as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.