HACKENSACK, N.J. – Luis Morales, owner of Andre’s Wine and Spirits in Leonia, N.J., opened a business checking account at the Bank of America branch across the street from the shop when he acquired the business three years ago. Last year he closed the account in a huff and switched to another bank.

“Too many fees,” he said, explaining the move. An unexpected 15 cents per-transaction charge and an unexplained “point of service fee” were the deal breakers, Morales said.

Scott Rozman can sympathize. The Guttenberg, N.J., resident, a career consultant and life coach, said he is pulling his money out of the bank over what he calls a “sneaky” $3 check-imaging fee that showed up on a statement earlier this year.

A teller told him he had to “opt out” of the service to avoid the fee that went into effect in January. “I said, ‘I never opted in. Opt me out. Now.’ ” The teller removed the fee, but the next month it was on his statement again, he said.

“They really want to nickel-and-dime you to death,” Rozman said.

Fees and mortgage servicing dysfunction amid the nation’s worst-ever foreclosure crisis have helped make the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, the nation’s largest, among the most reviled. The J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Index ranked Bank of America 32nd among 33 banks this year in the mid-Atlantic region.

A report earlier this month by the Atlantic magazine said Bank of America ranks among the “19 most-hated companies” based on a survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

“When you have approximately 58 million consumer and small-business relationships, it’s impossible to prevent all problems from happening,” said spokesman T.J. Crawford. “That being said, it’s our priority to resolve any issue to our customers’ satisfaction while trying to prevent those issues from arising in the first place.”

Crawford said customers receive fee disclosures when they open accounts and are notified in advance when fees change. Notices alerting customers of the $3 check-imaging fee were sent in September, he said.

The company broke with the industry last year and voluntarily eliminated lucrative overdraft protection fees on debit card point-of-sale transactions, said consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski, director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Such fees could add up to hundreds of dollars before customers knew they were overdrawn.

“They are among the leaders in eliminating what most consumer advocates believe to be the worst deposit account fee ever, the standard overdraft protection fee,” he said. “They were horrible for many years, but we were glad they came along.”

In an effort at greater customer outreach, the bank this month issued its first “Social Responsibility Report” that outlined 2010 accomplishments in community development lending, charitable giving and increased “fairness and transparency” in products and services.

Bank of America agreed in February to pay $410 million to about 1 million consumers to settle complaints it manipulated the order of checks written by customers to maximize those penalty charges.

But Mierzwinski also said the company remains among the leaders in making it more difficult to avoid paying checking account fees.

Meanwhile, thousands of homeowners are suing Bank of America for improperly “robo-signing” foreclosure filings and for failing to modify loans under the rules set down by the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department and all 50 state attorneys general have been negotiating a foreclosure practices settlement that may total more than $20 billion with the five largest U.S. mortgage servicers, which includes Bank of America, according to Bloomberg News.

Despite financial challenges, customer fee backlash and mortgage servicing woes, Bank of America’s standing as the top bank seems secure at least for now. That’s because its online banking service is among the best in the business, according to Forrester Research, and even with recent branch closings it has more offices than any of its rivals.

“Banks have very sophisticated analytics to figure out how they can hold on to their existing customers,” Mierzwinski said.

They also rely on the fact that switching banks is a hassle. “They raise fees but not so much that there would be a revolt,” he said.

“Who do you think Consumer Reports said has the worst hamburger? McDonald’s. And they are still the biggest. They are on every corner. That’s how you explain it.”