Yesterday I received a voicemail from a "Christie Smith" in Gobank's fraud department, who left her direct phone number and asked me to call to talk about the activity on my Gobank account.
When I was finally able to reach her today, she explained that:
- My level of account activity was "very unusual;"
- She was not allowed to tell me the level of deposit and bill pay activity that was allowed, but;
- I was exceeding it.
To her credit, she sounded apologetic about the absurdity of the situation. Still, she told me that unless I drastically reduced the amount of deposits I was making, my account would be closed (although she couldn't tell me what a "safe" level of activity would be).
The obvious explanation for this is that Green Dot, the prepaid card company which also operates Gobank, pays Walmart for each cash register load there. For most of their prepaid card products, Green Dot then charges the customer some amount (typically $3.74) that covers the fee they pay Walmart plus whatever their margin is.
In order to compete with American Express's groundbreaking Bluebird checking account alternative, which allows free cash register loads at Walmart, Green Dot decided not to charge Gobank customers for cash loads at Walmart. I suspect, however, that Green Dot still has to pay Walmart for those transactions, which means heavy users of that feature like myself are costing Gobank some serious money.
For now I don't think I'll change my usage pattern very much. Gobank is a remarkably valuable tool, but it's only valuable if you use it. I'll cut down my loads to less than $2,500 per week and less than $10,000 per month (I loaded considerably more than that last month).
And as always, I'll continue to report on every ongoing development with my Gobank account here on the blog.