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I was recently in Europe for a business trip, most of which is being reimbursed by European entities. This is being done via wire transfer, from Europe, but should be denominated in USD. To avoid the typical fees charged by US banks for incoming wire transfers, I signed up for an account with Ally, which promises no fees for incoming international wires and no intermediary fees either. I provided the international wire transfer information given to me by Ally as part of my reimbursement request. Ally uses Chase as the intermediary bank.

I have just received the first of the reimbursements (from the UK), and noticed it was $20 less than I had expected. I asked Ally about the fee, and was eventually told that the wire transfer was sent via Bank of NY (not Chase!), which probably charged the fee. I was also given the name of the originating bank, but no reference number (Ally apparently doesn't have one).

First, I'm confused as to how/why the intermediary bank was changed. I had provided specific information about Ally's Chase account and further beneficiary (me) as part of the request, and then it was changed. Do they ignore written instructions and use some kind of table they use to find how to send to a bank in the US? I'm still waiting on two other wires (from the Netherlands) and hope the same thing does not happen.

Second, my guess is that it's not worth trying to get the $20 back, but if I did want to pursue it, any thoughts on the best place to start? The originating bank is a UK bank that recently merged into Santander. I have a feeling that if I was going to fight it, I would spend the $20 on phone fees just trying to call the right part of the bank (the contact number costs $0.16/minute even through Google Voice).

If anyone has any experience with this sort of thing, that would be very helpful.

Thanks.

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dblevitan said:   I signed up for an account with Ally, which promises no fees for incoming international wires and no intermediary fees eitherWhere is this promised ?

dblevitan said:   The originating bank is a UK bank ... (the contact number costs $0.16/minute even through Google Voice)GV rates are not always competitive; search for a company that charges less.

Alcibiades said:   dblevitan said:   I signed up for an account with Ally, which promises no fees for incoming international wires and no intermediary fees eitherWhere is this promised ?

I don't know if the "no intermediary fees" is explicitly stated on their web site, but they confirmed that with me when I originally opened the account, and also stated that there should not have been any fees if Chase had been the intermediary bank when I asked them about this wire.

Alcibiades said:   dblevitan said:   The originating bank is a UK bank ... (the contact number costs $0.16/minute even through Google Voice)GV rates are not always competitive; search for a company that charges less.

I doubt it in this case - UK customer service numbers are charged higher for locals as well. There's a special category for them on GV, as compared to normal landline or mobile numbers. In any case, even if it was free, I have a feeling this would take many hours sitting on hold, which is not worth my time.

Get the confirmation from the sender, did they put down an Intermediary bank? It is not a requirement to include it during a wire transfer request.

dobby10 said:   Get the confirmation from the sender, did they put down an Intermediary bank? It is not a requirement to include it during a wire transfer request.

That's something I may do if I want to bother people there. For $20 it's probably not worth it. But I doubt this is something that the sender did - the instructions are along the lines of:

Send money to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, account #123456789 beneficiary Ally Bank
For further Credit to ..., account #987654321

The money should go to the intermediary, not to me.

What is the name of the originating bank, the bank that sent the wire ?

According to Ally, it was Alliance & Leicester

chase probably took it. bank of ny did a swap with chase years ago, basically got rid of all their retail banking.

Alcibiades said:   dblevitan said:   The originating bank is a UK bank ... (the contact number costs $0.16/minute even through Google Voice)GV rates are not always competitive; search for a company that charges less.

You can try cheap phone cards through nobelcom.com, might get lucky with a sale!

Data point: Santander owns Sovereign Bank.

Perhaps there's a way to save if you're receiving it into a Sovereign account? There have been Sovereign promos around here from time to time.

tajar96 said:   You can try cheap phone cards through nobelcom.com, might get lucky with a sale!
their cheaper rate cards have 4 minute rounding and $0.99 per week maintenance fees, that is so 1998

don't be hatin'. Depending on the country you call, they have some pretty good rates. I know someone that has family in the Middle East and uses this site quite a bit. A bit more bonus if you are a repeat customer too.

In order to avoid this thread becoming about phone cards, the point here is that I don't want to spend hours bouncing around from one department to another, even if it was free to call. I really doubt that I'd easily get someone who was willing to disclose what happened. The only way that it would be worth my time would be to find the department that handles wire transfers at the bank, and call that department.

I've tried doing a search for a phone number associated with Alliance and Leicester's SWIFT codes, but have found nothing so far (some banks seem to have it listed, others don't). If anyone knows a good way of looking this up, that would be very helpful.

dblevitan said:   In order to avoid this thread becoming about phone cards, the point here is that I don't want to spend hours bouncing around from one department to another, even if it was free to call. I really doubt that I'd easily get someone who was willing to disclose what happened. The only way that it would be worth my time would be to find the department that handles wire transfers at the bank, and call that department.

I've tried doing a search for a phone number associated with Alliance and Leicester's SWIFT codes, but have found nothing so far (some banks seem to have it listed, others don't). If anyone knows a good way of looking this up, that would be very helpful.
I'll see if I can look it up tomorrow at work.

An intermediary bank is a bank in the same country as the sender. When I send an international wire from the US to a bank in another country, I find that bank's branch in the US and use it as the intermediary bank. Even then that US branch still charges the recipient a small fee. If you want to receive at Chase US, you can phone Chase and find info about using Chase UK as the intermediary. The fee will probably be lower although not necessarily zero.

scrouds said:   I'll see if I can look it up tomorrow at work.

Thanks scrouds.

hellok38 said:   An intermediary bank is a bank in the same country as the sender. When I send an international wire from the US to a bank in another country, I find that bank's branch in the US and use it as the intermediary bank. Even then that US branch still charges the recipient a small fee. If you want to receive at Chase US, you can phone Chase and find info about using Chase UK as the intermediary. The fee will probably be lower although not necessarily zero.

This may be the case for outgoing transfers from the US. Inbound transfers are different. Most US banks do not have access to international wire transfers (e.g., a SWIFT code), so they have an account at one of the banks that does have access (the large banks) and then forward that money to your account.

Didn't see a phone number listed. Guess they just don't want to be contacted

Chances are if you call and try to get answers you'll be hit with additional wire inquiry fees. Check your pricing agreement with Ally, if it explicitly states no fees go in there and have them give you the refund without involving sender/intermediary.

Intermediary fees are pretty common. Unless Ally stated that incoming international wires are free, best to just accept the $20 fee and move on. If this will continue, it may be best to set up an account with an international bank and just accept their fees.

scrouds, thanks for checking on the contact info. I guess they really are trying not to be helpful.

While Ally does not explicitly state on their website that there are no intermediary fees, they do state "free". I've chatted with their representatives and have saved the conversations where I am explicitly told that Chase will not charge an intermediary fee for the wire. Their explanation for the fee this time is that BNY was used instead of Chase.

I have a few more transfers I'm waiting on now. If they are not hit by the fee, then I'll try sending an e-mail through the general contact link on Alliance & Leicester's and seeing what happens. Probably nothing, but it's only a few minutes of my time. If all the transfers are hit with the same fee (given they're from different countries and almost definitely different banks), then I'll bring it up with Ally. If not, I'll see what Alliance & Leicester does, but not worry about it too much.



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