Action 9: Customers complain of bank fee refund denials

by: Todd Ulrich, Gerry Mendiburt Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A local bank vice president told Action 9 he was fired for giving customers fee refunds even when bank mistakes triggered those fees. 

Action 9’s Todd Ulrich investigated Julio Noboa’s claims that PNC Bank management in Florida pumped profits at the customers' expense.

Ulrich found PNC customers who complained about fee refund denials.

 PNC customer Dean Dennis told Action 9 he felt blindsided.

“There was no notice. They just took the money,” Dennis said.

He claims his PNC Bank account was hit for $725 in fees that he never agreed to pay. Dennis had opened a small-business account and claims the fees were the bank's mistake, but it refused any refund.

“Did they take advantage of you as a customer?” Ulrich asked.

“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Dennis said.

Dorothy Hooks had a similar PNC Bank account and disputed $200 in fees.

“You thought this was a bank mistake?” asked Ulrich.  

“Yes,” replied Hooks, “I think it's unfair.”

Their complaints don't surprise a former PNC Kissimmee branch manager and senior vice president.

“I believe I was fired because I was retaliated against,” said Julio Noboa who contacted Action 9 claiming PNC management in Florida wanted him out after he blew the whistle on a statewide refund policy that denied fee refunds even when it was the bank's mistake. Many of the cases involved overdraft fees.

“I felt horrible because this is the people's money. This is their life,” Noboa said.

According to Noboa, PNC's national policy required refunds and he approved them at his branch, but that's how he ended up in trouble with Florida management. He claims they were driving up profits at the customer's expense.

“I got an email or a phone call or text message if my fee refunds were higher than what they wanted them to be,” Noboa said.

A few weeks after Action 9 interviewed Noboa, he sent a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor, claiming he was fired for uncovering unethical practices. According to Noboa, the OSHA complaint was settled so he can't comment.


             
PNC corporate managers told Action 9 the bank resolved its former employee's concerns and refunded both consumers their fees as a courtesy.   

“Did that policy cost you money?” Ulrich asked Hooks.  

“Yes, it did,” she said.
              
PNC Bank also said it's committed to fully disclosing all the fees it charges. Customers at any bank or credit union can complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about fee issues they can't resolve.

PNC said in an email statement:

“In Florida and around the country, we strive to deliver an excellent customer experience and products and services that meet the needs of our customers. And we’re committed to clarity and transparency regarding the fees we charge.  With regard to the customers in this news story, PNC refunded the contractual business banking fees that were disputed as a courtesy to our customers.  Moreover, we worked with Mr. Noboa to amicably resolve his concerns.”


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