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Posted July 24, 2006 8:00 AM | Permalink
Well let me say this... Banks suck.
After working for Bank One for over a year, I'd never EVER do business with a bank. They are by nature a "for profit" business and will ding you anyway they can. I've had my personal account with a credit union since 1985 (except when I worked for B.O. and they required employees to have their pay deposited into a B.O account and they held my B.O. paycheck before posting it, causing an employee to have an NSF!)
My C.U. and as far as I know, others, post account activity immediately and I get my new current balance on every receipt. I don't mean to sound like a spokesperson for C.U.s but I'd certainly look into membership in a local credit union if I were you.
Jul 24, 2006
I opened an account at Washington Mutual, soon after moving to California. It seemed every time I went into the bank (rather than just using the ATM) I had some sort of negative experience. In fact, right at the beginning there was a problem with getting checks for my newly opened checking account (they never arrived), and upon going in to clear that up, I learned the very friendly man who helped me open the account hadn't filed any of the forms he needed to, and had since been let go, so we had to go through all the paperwork again. Nevertheless, when my husband started his own business, we opened an account in the business name at WaMu, because it was convenient to do all of our banking at one place.
We accepted a check in foreign currency from an overseas buyer, to make things convenient for our customer, after confirming with WaMu's customer service over the phone that it could be deposited in our account after a certain time period and for a certain fee. When we got the check, drawn on one of the largest banks in Great Britain, in pounds, we took it inside our local WaMu branch to deposit it.
The first teller had no idea what to do with the check, so she called her "manager" over. The manager told us that she couldn't do anything with the check. "Really?" we asked, "because we phoned WaMu customer service, and they said there would be a delay in depositing it in our account, and a fee, but that it would be no problem." No, she couldn't do anything, we should contact our customer and have them send a check in US Dollars instead. "Um, no, we are not going to do that. Is there someone else we can talk to?" "No."
Exasperated, my husband asked "So, you're telling me that this check, worth a few hundred dollars, is essentially worthless here. Can you give a suggestion on what we should do?"
Her response was classic, and more forthcoming than I would have expected: "You could go to Bank of America. I'm sure they could do something with it."
After confirming with her she really would rather send us to open an account at another bank than just process the stupid check, we did just what she suggested. The man we talked to at Bank of America was confused by the story we told of what had happened at Washington Mutual. His suggestion was that processing a check like that takes a little extra work (thus the fee) and that woman just didn't want to fill out the forms, etc. It seems a stupid reason to drive away customers who have dealt with your bank for several years, but it seems that is just what she did.
Of course, we closed all our accounts at WaMu, and reopened them at Bank of America. There was a world of difference between our treatment on a regular basis there, from the crappy service we always received at WaMu. We never had any problems at BoA, and it was a real shame we had to change banks again when we moved back to Ohio because there are no locations here.
A sidenote, when we went to close our accounts at WaMu, we were aching to tell the branch manager why we were leaving, because the woman who had sent us elsewhere was still employed and there that day. He did come over to talk to us, momentarily, when he saw that we were there to close accounts. He walked up and asked "Is there anything we can do to make you stay?" We both said "No, I don't think so," and as I took a breath to go on with what had happened on our previous trip to their bank, he lost focus, turned, and walked away without even an "I'm sorry you feel that way." It was easy to see where the woman picked up her customer service skills.
I considered writing a letter to corporate, but I decided if they were that disinterested in what would cause customers of several years to leave their bank, they could keep their idiot working there, at least we wouldn't have to deal with her anymore.
I think the moral of the story is that not all banks seem determined to screw their personal banking customers (or in the case of WaMu, their business banking customers as well). It is inconvenient to have to switch banks, but it can be well worth it.
Jul 24, 2006
Compass Bank is one of the worst banks I have ever had the mispleasure to have used and I was a banker for about 20 years.
I was closing an account because of their weird posting for the day closing time (4pm) plus lots of other little "you gotta be kidding" policies they have.
Later, I received an NSF notice on the closed account. It was overdrawn by TEN CENTS. It took a couple of days but I went in and made a ten cent deposit and figured it was all done.
A week later, I received a notice that with all of their NSF fees, they wanted $122.00. Yup, that was one hundred and twenty two dollars for a TEN CENT overdraft. Oh yes, they said the NSF charges would have been the same if the overdraft were only ONE cent too. All other banks I have ever worked for or dealt with usually allow a $2 to $3 overdraft without any fees as they know we all can make small addition errors.
Talking to the branch manager, area manager, corporate customer (lack of) service got me a "generous" $62.00 credit, leaving me owning $60.00 for a TEN CENT overdraft.
It took a call to the president's office and they took several days to finally just wipe it out!!!
Most banks are fine. Its the person you are dealing with that makes the difference at any given time. But Compass Bank is definitly the exception. All of the people up and down the line were the same, i.e. "customer service" and "common sense" were phrases they would have to look up in the dictionary as they were totally unfamiliar with them.
Jul 24, 2006
The post about Compass Bank really amused me. My daughter was working there in the main center, not a branch. She had her normal duties to do and kept up with them quite well.
One of her duties was to try to help customers who called in. It didn't take long before several other staff members started referring customers to her, because she handled the complaints so well. Many of these complaints involved small charges to their accounts. She had the authority to void these charges, withhout consulting with others.
She then got a new supervisor, transferred in from another department. My daughter worked with her, showing her the different procedures, etc. It didn't take long before the supervisor decided she didn't like my daughter and decided to try to get rid of her. She reported my daughter to the next supervisor above her. The story was that my daughter was way behind in her work and was causing all sorts of delay. My daughter was called 'on the carpet' and given a warning. It wasn't long before she was asked to resign. She was broken-hearted, as she had really enjoyed her work.
Jul 24, 2006
Regions Bank is another bank that didn't use their heads. I banked with them for many years. When I became a senior citizen I was eligible for a free checking account. I signed up right away. All went well for a few years, until suddenly I started getting a $3 monthly service charge. I complained, but was told that was just the way it was.
I actually had some stock in the bank. I promptly changed banks and sold the shares of stock. A few months later, Regions Bank started advertising free checking accounts for Seniors again! I was never contacted by them and asked to return, not that I would have. If you mistreat me, you just lost a customer!
I think everyone has at least one "crappy bank policy" story to tell, and here is mine.
Last Friday, I received my check from my part-time job as a waitress. My husband I and were planning to go out that evening, so I decided to just cash the check instead of depositing it as I normally do. I went to the bank the check is drawn on (SBT) to cash the check. The teller at the drive up informed me that she could not cash the check because I had an account that had been charged off with a balance of -$50. I didn't understand, because the only account I had ever had at that bank had been closed in June 2005.
So, I took the check back and went inside to speak to the manager. My husband and I were escorted into the manager's office, where she proceeded to look up our old account to see what was going on. After I explained that the account (with a positive balance) had been closed in that very branch by my husband and myself, and that I had cashed checks there since with no problem, she still had to call the main office. She had no explanation as to how a closed acccount can generate overdraft fees, but that's beside the point. Or is it the point?
To make a long, very boring story short, they could not look up the account activity because it was an old account. "Deposit Ops" would have to go through their records to find out what was going on. In the end, they agreed to cash the check for me (it was only for $50.83!), but I was warned that if I tried to cash a check there again, I might run into the same trouble. The manager promised that she would personally look into the situation for me and would call me back. Granted, this all went down last Friday, and it's only Monday, but I haven't heard back yet, and I don't think I will. All I know is that I will never step foot inside that bank again unless my life depends on it.
Jul 24, 2006
I was privately selling one car and buying another. I took the cashier's check I received for my old car and deposited it along with a couple of other checks at my local bank branch.
The following day I purchased another car for myself and wrote a check for the full amount. A few days later I got a call from the seller that my check did not clear. I withdrew enough to cover the check from savings and paid for the car.
I took my deposit receipt and headed into my branch. I was told that the checks had never made it to the central office, so I was just out the money. I started up the chain of command, and no one cared. In the end I did get the value of the checks--someone had mislaid them--but I was stuck with the overdraft charges.
I closed that account and went to a different bank.
Jul 24, 2006
Heh... and I used to think Australian banks were bad...
I had a similar "NSF" type fee, for overdrawing an account. Except it was a debit-only account, and I "overdrew" by taking cash out an an ATM. What's that, you say? The ATM shouldn't have let me withdraw the cash if there wasn't enough in the account? Turns out that argument worked just fine with the bank, too -- they reversed the charge with no hesitation as soon as I explained the situation.
It's interesting to see the problems people have in the US with cheques -- yes, I know, we spell it differently over here :-) The only time I've ever had a cheque account was for a brief period when our landlord suggested we pay the rent by slipping an envelope full of cash under his door, like all the other tenants in the properties he managed... including the drug addicts he'd just evicted for wrecking the place they were renting. We decided we'd rather have some way of recording and tracing our rent payments.
Other than that brief 6-month period 12 yrs ago, my banking life has been almost exclusively electronic. The only time I actually go in to a branch is to deposit large amounts of cash -- such as the contents of our spare change tin. Very few individuals use cheques these days in Oz, and businesses are phasing them out, too.
Jul 24, 2006
I had the luck to live in Australia for two years. At the same time, I was working for a small company in the US (telecommuting at its finest!). For the sake of simplicity, my boss in the States deposited my pay into an account at a local Bank One branch and I withdrew it in Brisbane using an ATM card.
This all worked very well until suddenly one day, I could not use my card. It turned out to be the same old story, with a deposit not being credited, followed by overdrawing the account with my ATM card. They disabled my PIN as a result.
Unfortunately, having a couple of oceans between me and the bank limited my options somewhat. I rang their customer service number and waited on hold for about 45 minutes, paying I don't even want to consider how much per minute. When I finally got through to a person, I explained my problem and they told me to...come to my local branch to get a new PIN. Right. My local branch.
I took a deep breath and explained again how far away my "local branch" was. Oh. And I got transferred up. And up. And up. Each time I was told to go to my local branch and each time I had to explain why that was just a trifle difficult. I FINALLY got through to someone who understood the concept of "I'm not currently in the US". It still took quite a while, but she eventually consented to assign a temporary PIN to my card and to have a permanent one mailed to me (my address on file was in Australia, luckily).
All this cost me money I really could not afford, as well as a lot of time and hassle. I understand the difficulties of dealing with an unfamiliar situation, but when I said, quite clearly, "I am ringing from Australia, where I will be for the next six to eight months" AND my account address was in Australia, to keep being told to go to my local branch indicated a total lack of the ability/desire to listen to me or to do the most basic research on my account.
Needless to say, I closed that account as soon as I had a local branch at which to do it. I have not been back since. I too have found I get much better service at a Credit Union.
Jul 25, 2006
I made the mistake of not knowing an obscure federal law that says you may not make more than 6 transfers from your savings account in any 30 day period. Instead of letting me know politely, I received a call from my bank that they had closed my savings account! They had also (illegally) opened up a new checking account in my name and deposited the savings funds there.
Instead of closing both the new checking account, and the old one I had had for 5 years, I got even.
I left $5 in each account, then went online and set up an automatic transfer, twice each month, of $2 from account A to account B, then from B to A. Not only does it add a few trasactions to the bank's workload, BUT, each month they have to mail me TWO statements! This has been going on for 2+ years now, and I'm not sure how much it has cost them, but I really don't care -- I get a chuckle twice a month!
Jul 25, 2006
(Read the article that everyone's commenting on.)