Your last resort. Before taking your dispute to an attorney, consider that legal counsel will just add more strain to your wallet. "Attorneys are expensive—they aren't cheap dates," says Ulzheimer. Legal fees add up, especially when cases drag on. So before you hire an attorney, Ulzheimer says, "you better make sure you've been damaged." By "damaged," he means you've sustained a serious financial blow, such as an error on your credit report that cost you a job.
A bank dispute that wasn't worth the financial investment for an attorney was one Gnitecki had with a bank over a $300 sign-up bonus. Gnitecki claims he was entitled to the bonus after he made the two direct deposits of at least $500 that were required, but says the bank lost his original voucher, which he was subsequently told was required to redeem the bonus. "I suppose I could have 'sued,' but that would be silly over such a small amount," he says.
If things don't go your way. You always have the option of changing banks, but moving isn't easy. You may have to refinance out of your current mortgage if you want to change lenders or cancel automatic bill pay or direct deposit. It's a "cumbersome" process, says McBride. "Picking up stakes and changing banks is doable, but it's not as easy as picking a different lunch place next Friday," he says.
Nonetheless, the hassle of switching banks shouldn't stop you from getting out of a bad situation. Papadimitriou says to an extent, consumers tend to be more willing to be "abused" by a financial institution, as opposed to being poorly treated at a restaurant. But like filing a complaint, placing a "to-go order" at your bank may be the best decision.