Friday, July 23, 2010

At Least Banks Appreciate My Business Now...huh?

I've been banking with a certain large bank for several years. For the sake of this story, let's call the bank "Bank of America". I chose them, primarily, because of location and convenience. There was a branch near the two bars I was running, and they had one of the few "big bank" branches in the slowly gentrifying neighborhood I was residing in at the time. Upon my relocation to Atlanta last year, I was informed I'd need to close my NY account and open an account locally.

I made a little time, like a good sheep, and went in to the local Branch. I closed the "old" account and opened a "new" account. Even though I had been banking with them for years, they still charged me for the whole Magilla: new checks, same maintenance fees, blah, blah, blah. As I said earlier, I stayed w/ them for years out of convenience (even though I was overpaying in maintenance fees). At that point, I stayed because I was lazy and...well...I was there.

Last Friday, I checked my bank balance on my iPhone. To my surprise, rather than the one checking and one savings accounts I had maintained for over a year, I had another checking account...and it was over-drawn. Ummmm...what? I had never had access to this account before on my phone, but the last four digits matched my "closed for over a year" account. Closer scrutiny showed 11 withdrawals of $12.00 for monthly service leaving a negative balance of $33 and some change. Ummm...WTF???

This past Monday, I went to the branch in the morning and spoke with a gent (for the sake of this blog, let's call him Donald) about identifying and correcting the problem. Donald examined the entries on his screen at his little kiosk and finally asked "Why did you leave this money in the account?" I told him, to the best of my memory, I had not. I was under the impression the account had been emptied into the new account. "Hmmm," said Donald. "Great", thought I.

I explained that I had not been able to even see this information until a few days prior, and had received no statements regarding the old account. Donald corrected me by stating "Oh, you've been receiving statements. It says so here".

Me: Donald, I'm sure you don't mean to sound arrogant, but I promise you I haven't received any mailings.

Donny Douchebag: Well, it says so here.

Me: Don, I first found the account on Friday. I'm here on the following Monday. Does that strike you as the action of someone that's been dragging his ass for a year?

DD: It says it was mailed.

Me: Well, Donny, since I'm the one that's out a hundred plus bucks, and I'm the one here complaining, perhaps we should let the mailing issue go for now and address one of the aspects of the scenario that will make me go away.

DD: Let me do a little more looking...

Me: Hey Don-boy, how about at least acknowledging that I made a statement, please. After all, even if I'm not as well versed in banking as you, I can certainly complain to your superiors about sub-par treatment, and I'm certainly capable of making you cry like a little girl. So let's try to keep this professional before it gets shitty for both of us. Whatta ya say?

DD: Yes Mr. Martin

Me: (sigh)

DD: (after a few moments) Good news! I can refund you $35!

Me: Why is that good news? The bank owes me over $100.

DD: Well, I can only access the last 6 months.

Me: OK. What about the rest?

DD: Don't forget, you weren't actually charged the overdrawn $33.

Me: Right. What's 11 x $12?

DD: $132

Me: Right. That's the gross. What's 132 - 33?

DD: 99.

Me: Right. That's the net. Give me $99 and I'll leave happy. Most importantly, I'll leave your kiosk.

DD: I'll have to turn it over to security for investigation.

Me: What, they're the only ones that can deal in returning more than $35 when it's stolen from a customer?

DD: It's my only option.

Me: Fine. How long will this take?

DD: (sigh) A few days, probably.

Me: (heavier sigh) I guess that'll have to do. If I haven't heard from someone by Thursday, I'll be back to talk to someone that isn't you. I assume one of the rats in the glass cages against the back wall answers when you call "Boss", right?

DD: Well, technically, they're all my bosses.

Me: Cool. I'll be waiting for that phone call.

The phone call came on Wednesday. Donny-boy, himself, called to give the good news. Security had approved returning $110 to yours truly. I told Donald I'd be in later in the week to close out the account...and this time it needed to stay closed.

Before you back up the page, you're right. I had only been seeking $99. When the extra $11 was offered I classified it as, what some in the bar business refer to as, Asshole tax. If Donny had been a tad less of a douchebag, I would have done the right thing and pointed it out. Since he was a total sphincter-monkey, however, he could now buy me lunch...Asshat.

There are a couple of truly crappy aspects to this story for me.

1) I shouldn't have been so lazy to begin with. I have to drive by a rival financial institution with better rates just to get to this branch. I was just too lazy to go in and close the account then go to the new bank and open the new account. This will be remedied next week.

2) How can any business that relies on customer relations treat a customer like that when they are clearly in the wrong on so many levels?

2A: They didn't close the account properly when asked.

2B: Something is clearly fishy in that no statements were received for over a year.

2C: When the problem was reported, did this crusty short sniffer think he was gonna bully me into going away? Not friggin' likely. Also, why was there no mea culpa from this walking stain? I'm not saying it was his fault, but he is the rep for the bank. What a wanker.

Just goes to can find asshats in all walks of life. Drunks in a bar, or banker guys in ties at their little kiosks. We owe it to ourselves and each other to make adjustments where we can and administer a (sometimes verbal) neckpunch when called for.

I saw my duty and I did it. Hopefully Wachovia will do better.