Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Dear Mr. CEO,

My husband and I were the owners of a rather small savings CD with your very large bank. We did not bank with you originally, but you bought the bank we had this deposit in. About a month ago, I received an evening telephone call reminding me that this deposit was coming up for a renewal date and since I was a valued customer, you were offering me the opportunity to renew for a longer period at a special rate. You know, because my measly amount was so important to you, you offered me an interest rate that was only half of the going rate anywhere else around, and you were requiring a longer term for it! When I told the gentleman on the telephone that I was not interested, he became so insistent that I hung up the telephone. Technically, what you were doing is probably not an illegal practice, but deliberately trying to deceive customers in this way is, to my way of thinking, at least unethical.

Yesterday, I drove 70 miles to one of your branches to get the money out of your bank when it came due. I would like to describe my experience for you.

Have you seen the television commercials about the real people who go into the fake bank and are asked all sorts of personal questions? That was the situation I faced when I tried to withdraw my money.

I was directed from the teller station to a person in an office who proceeded to tell me first of all that the account was inactive, which it wasn't, unless the fact that the interest paid on the weekend and it was already Monday made it inactive. That gave her the excuse to inquire into my personal life in order to activate the account. Certainly, I expected to have to provide an account number and identification to get my money. I should not have had to answer other personal questions, including what I planned to do with the money. That is no one's business but mine. I politely dodged that question. Upon reflection, I should not have been polite.

I supplied my driver's license when asked. I opened my wallet and pulled on the little tape tab that I have on my license so that I can pull it out of the pocket more easily and handed it to the official. She proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't use the tab because it might leave gum on the license and it was hard to see. I should use a sticky note. Of course, you need one of the little sticky notes. After rummaging around, she decided she did not have a little sticky note, but she had a big one. Then she pulled her desk drawer out all the way and hunted for scissors. Finding that she didn't have any, she came up with a letter opener, which she used to saw the big sticky note into a rather ragged small sticky note. Then she pressed it to the back of my license, where it covered part of the magnetic strip. She also suggested that I tape it down so that it would be more secure. If I were going to put tape on the license anyway, why did I need the sticky note? And, what, pray tell, did this have to do with withdrawing my money?

Next, the computer program that she was entering my information into kicked up a credit card offer that she could not be persuaded that I didn't want. In spite of my telling her repeatedly that I did not want another credit card, she itemized how your card would be better than the cards she saw in my wallet when I removed the license. She wanted to know what banks issued the cards I was carrying. She pointed out that your card had an excellent interest rate. She said that I needed a card from a national bank if I were going to travel. (By the way, she needs to learn what a national bank is and what a state bank is.) She recommended that I get your card and take the cash rebate to travel because anyone can get online and find better airfares and your blackout dates for frequent flyer miles were a problem. I kept repeating that I didn't want a card until she finally gave up, although she did tuck a business card in when I left so that I could call her back for the card offer.

Now she moved back to trying to get my money out of your system. She apologized that she was having trouble with that because she doesn't get much practice since so few people take money out because it is just such an excellent place to have your money. Meanwhile, I learned about the misting system she and her honey had installed for their big furry dogs who were having trouble with the Texas heat. Unfortunately, I missed seeing "Honey," who was supposed to show up at any time with a new Jeep for her because she made him take back the Town Car he had bought her because she doesn't drive carefully enough to drive something close to the ground. Finally, she disappeared for awhile and then she printed out something and asked me to step back out to the teller windows.

After moving to teller number two, and getting a supervisor to come out and say it was ok for me to withdraw my money, the teller's system locked down because the code was not correct. Frantic hunt for someone who knew how to unlock it. Success! A cashier's check, and I could even have an envelope if I wanted it!

Contrast this with my experience earlier in the day. I stopped at my local STATE bank for 3 small cashiers checks that I needed to transact some out of town business. The teller who helped me is not a native English speaker and obviously still has a little trouble with pronunciation, but she knew her job. I did not have to find someone in an obscure office. No one asked me for personal info that was none of their business. No one tried to organize my wallet. No one tried to press me to take a credit card or offered me a below-market interest rate, implying that they were doing me a big favor by doing so. I was in and out in five minutes.

I notice that your bank is one of the ones coming in for criticism for not correcting some problems that you said you would correct when you got the bailout money. I am not surprised. I guarantee that I will never bank with you again, and I will discourage anyone else from doing so. I think you are not only inefficient but treading just barely on the legal side of the line from being unethical in your practices.

A Very Dissatisfied Customer

1 comment:

Deb said...

My bank has been bought out again -- so far, we haven't run into problems. (fingers crossed!) When we first deposited in this bank it was a local mutual savings bank, owned by local investors. I even worked at it for 3 years before my kids were born! But in 33 it's been sold/bought I think 5 times. I can almost guarantee that the minute I buy new checks, the bank's name changes!!