June 29, 2015 7:33 pm

A penny short costs PC Financial bank customer $45


WATCH ABOVE: President’s Choice Financial charged an Orangeville, Ont. customer $45 because she was one cent short on a recurring bill payment. As Global’s Sean O’Shea reports, the saga led to a song.

TORONTO – The penny may be out of circulation, but it’s the bane of an Orangeville, Ont. bank customer who is paying the price for being a cent short on a recent payment.

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“I wasn’t angry or outraged, I was exasperated,” said Marianne Girard, who banks with President’s Choice Financial, also known as PC Financial.

Girard has done her banking with PC Financial for several years and has more than one account. Recently, when PayPal attempted to withdraw money from one of the accounts to pay her monthly website fee, there was a small problem.

“It (the bill) was $7.10 and there was $7.09 in the account,” said Girard. As a result, PC Financial levied a hefty surcharge.

“A $45 NSF charge over one cent,” she said.

The Royal Canadian Mint stopped issuing pennies on February 4, 2013. They are still legal tender but businesses typically round up or round down the price on cash purchases. However on other types of charges – credit card, debit or pre-authorized purchases – consumers are still charged the precise amount.

But several consumers interviewed in Orangeville describe the NSF fee as “just wrong” and “not fair” and “a crazy bank fee for sure.”

PC Financial does not consent to on-camera interviews and generally won’t discuss its clients’ banking issues, even when given the customer’s consent.

A spokesperson said: “the facts that were presented to us by Global are not consistent with our review of this case.” But the bank produced no evidence contradicting Girard. Her bank statement appeared to support the penny deficit surcharge.

Eventually, PC Financial called to apologize to Girard.

“And of course they wouldn’t charge me for a penny, of course not!” said Girard, recounting the phone call from the representative. PC Financial also refunded the $45 fee.

Girard, an accomplished musician who has just released a new CD, was encouraged to call Global News by friends on Facebook after she says PC Financial refused to budge.

She and her partner and musical collaborator Allan Fraser penned and performed a song about their experience with PC Financial and decision to go public. Part of the lyrics read:

“So I called a reporter, Sean O’Shea from Global News. I said ‘I got a problem, it’s the Mighty Penny Blues.’ I gave him all the details, the entire story line. Twenty minutes later you know everything was fine.”

The lesson for consumers: the same thing could happen to you. One penny too little could cost you the equivalent of 4,500 cents as a penalty, depending on your bank’s policies.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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