DERRY — Last spring, Mary Porter went to get her bank card and discovered it was missing.
The 85-year-old Derry woman said she was relieved when an employee at Sovereign Bank in Salem got her a new card and checking account, saying the old account would be closed to prevent any problems.
But in April 2012, the problems were only beginning.
They only came to an end yesterday after a reporter started asking questions.
Mary and her husband, Robert, 83, said it took nearly a year for the account to be closed.
The couple was charged $245 in overdraft fees because the bank tried to withdraw money from the wrong account to cover the checks the couple wrote.
Meanwhile, Sovereign withheld several hundred dollars of the couple’s money to pay the seven overdraft charges — each for $35, Robert said.
“It may not seem like a big deal, but when you are on Social Security, it is,” he said. “They said they would take care of it, but they didn’t.”
The couple said they mostly rely on their $2,000 in Social Security checks each month to pay their living expenses. They also rely on Medicare to foot their medical costs.
Robert said he has a pacemaker and stents after suffering three heart attacks. Mary has respiratory trouble and needs to be hooked up to an oxygen tank when she goes to bed at night.
The Porters’ three children live all around the country, so the elderly couple has had to resolve the problem on their own. At least a half-dozen visits to Sovereign’s Salem and Derry branches made little difference, they said.
Months ago, an employee at the Salem branch was apologetic and said the problem would be resolved, Robert said. But the overdraft fees and notices kept coming, he said.
The account was finally closed earlier this winter, but the couple was still waiting yesterday morning for a refund of the money that was withheld.