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Special section Chamber of financial horrors

Quake in your boots at these real-life tales of horror from unwitting consumers.

Financial horrors: Creepy customer service

The monthly gym fee that would not die!
I joined a gym about six years ago, and they offered a discount if I agreed to let them deduct the fee automatically from my bank account. After three years, the original contract I had with the gym had lapsed, but I was still using the gym and they continued to deduct the fee. Fine with me. I figured I was on some sort of month-to-month deal, just like a rental apartment owner can do with a tenant after the lease runs out.

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Then, the gym changed hands. I didn't like the new people who were running it, so I told them I quit and to stop dunning my account.

Next month, I had another deduction. I called again and told them to stop. I called my bank, too, but the bank said that it was out of their hands -- that the gym had to notify them to stop. In essence, the gym had taken over my bank account like a zombie takes over a body.

It took two months, two faxes, three phone calls and a quick trip to the bank to make a deposit to avoid bouncing a check before the gym finally agreed to let my account go free. I wish I could have driven a stake into its heart. That's the last time I'll ever let someone else automatically deduct from my checking account. Those zombie deductions are too tough.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out ...
My rent is due on the 1st of every month and the grace period lasts until the 4th, after which rent is considered late and fees are charged to the renters. My roommate turned her rent check in on the 4th by slipping it into the drop box.

A month passed. Then we received an eviction warning on our door that stated that if we did not make good on our late charges, we would be evicted in three days. All after one month of late charges!

My roommate did some investigating and discovered that her rent check had never been cashed. So we marched to the main office and demanded to know why we received the eviction warning for rent we had paid in good faith.

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