Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Banking Drama....

It's been an evening of customer service experiences. 


I've had issues with my current bank, which have made me yell, use a lot of vulgar language, and at one point I ended up in the branch manager's office after sending her a pointed email about how poorly I'd been treated by her staff. Things have, unfortunately, not gotten much better.


Current bank
1) The website is often out of date.
2) One can only reach the bank by phoning during business hours. There is an email account but then one gets to receive a return phone call while I'm at work. My coworkers are sick of listening to me talk to my bank.

3) Very little can be handled online.
4) They shut off everyone's card due to a data breach but didn't bother to tell any of the card holders for 16 hours--and didn't put any notification on their website or voicemail about this. (Guess who surprised a bunch of story time parents the next morning with the news that their bank cards wouldn't work?) Over 24 hours later some people STILL hadn't been notified.

5) Don't allow for pin changes on location--you have to get an entirely new debit card to change the pin. I found this out 24 hours before I left for New York--while planning to take only the new debit card. 

6) Didn't have a drive through ATM--in Wisconsin--until about six months ago.  You had to park illegally in an all-reserved-spots-parking and get out of the car. In January. In Wisconsin.

7) No walk in ATM at the bank, despite being on Main Street where we have a lot of foot traffic during the summer.

8) No ATM at all at the remote branch, which is closer to Chez Hedgehog.
9) Remember I went to Egypt? (yah I know I owe you pictures) I called them in advance and was assured by the receptionist (I don't know her name but I recognize the voice at this point) that she would mark my account so they wouldn't shut the card off on me while M and I were abroad.  On the trip home and while I was in NY praying the wind would let up long enough that I could fly back to CHI/LSE--they called about odd account activity. There was no record on my account that I was going to be traveling to Egypt despite my advance phone call. While I appreciated the verification and rattled off exactly how many debits had been made, when, and the approximate amount with some wiggle room for exchange rates, the obvious fall down on that one was HUGE. "Who did you talk to?" the caller asked. "Whoever answers the phone." was my not extremely chipper answer.  

10)  Tonight--for no apparent reason--they're holding double my rent payment hostage.  The money is there, it's just "not available."  I only got one receipt from my landlord through their electronic bill payment system and it's automatic, so that shouldn't have gone through twice. I've used that system for two years. So tomorrow morning I get to call to find out what exactly is going on this time.  


I've had plans to go to a different financial institution, one recommended highly by a coworker. It's a credit union, they pay interest on their standard checking accounts, and she's been really pleased with them. Only, they keep banking hours and I hate leaving the house on Saturday. As I kvetched about this online, one friend suggested I start the account opening process online. 

It had never occurred to me that I could do that. Certainly at my current bank this wasn't an option, I couldn't assign a designated inheritor upon my death without an Act of Congress (insert political party joke *here* if you so choose). But at my new choice of financial institution...I could. 


I filled out all the standard questionnaires, forms, verification of who I was, etc--online. I read electronic versions of all of the usual documents. I assigned a designated inheritor in case the cat steps on my windpipe one too many times. It was polite, it was easy, and it took about ten minutes--including setting up an electronic transfer from my current bank to start initial funding.

From their website:


1) I can FIND the number to call and report if my card is lost--24/7.
2) There's a secure way to communicate with them online.
3) They listed on the application forms what countries they don't allow debit/credit card usage at present (Burma, for example).
4) There is a drive up ATM on my way home and a satellite branch where I do most of my grocery shopping.
5) I'll get interest on my not very high balance checking account just for banking with them and using online banking.
6) Automatic savings account set up for me, which I've missed having. I "can" do it all on the spreadsheet I keep--and will continue to do so--but being able to move money to a savings account that isn't my ING account is nice. (The ING is great--but it takes 3 business days to move funds around.)

7) Far more transparent.



I've avoided doing this also because of all of the places I'll need to change routing numbers: work, freelance client, student loans, other online bill paying stuff, retirement savings account. But changing routing numbers has got to be easier than the excess of frustration I feel about every three months when my current bank screws up again.

Everything for my new bank account is in process, as confirmed by an automatic but still very clear and polite email that I got upon clicking "Finish." I expect tomorrow I'll get an email or perhaps a phone call. Initial set up probably should have a live human-to-human contact at some point, I'm okay with that.  


*sigh* I could tie all this back to libraries, online fine payment and card registration, policy transparency etc, but I've done my taxes and signed up for a new bank account--so take away what lessons you will for yourself. 

Also--anybody want to come tell me what's wrong with my printer? The black ink is being screwy despite changing out the ink cartridge.

2 comments:

Marge Loch-Wouters said...

You picked the right horse for your new financial institution. They ARE incredible...worked with us when we had trouble getting a loan at other places for our new house because one of us was unemployed; incredible month-end dividends on savings; really flexible staff and an ATM at the local food co-op. Can't get better than that. Credit Unions forever!

Colleen said...

ugh. I recently changed banks - I was able to open a checking and savings account with SunTrust all online, within minutes. The snag I hit was when changing all my bill autodraft - the bank that holds my auto loan lives in the dark ages - i just blogged about it over at Guardienne. You would think, given the state of mistrust of banks among middle class consumers, that they'd have their sh- stuff in order. Glad you're going somewhere with a good reputation.