Friday, March 12, 2010

Too big to fail? Try big enough to fail us!

I promise, I'll get to the suggested topics soon but I am fuming once again with the banking industry.

I was rather happy with the service I got at my Washington Mutual branch even though that's where the whole problem started. I was even happier with the nice people at my local NatWest before they sold to Fleet and then Fleet sold to Bank of America but that is ancient history.

Do you get the feeling that there will only be 5 banks in this country soon?

Anyway, last summer Chase decided to charge me overdraft fees on a debit card and I blogged about this last year. I did not know there was overdraft "protection" on the card where they would honor my 5 dollar Starbucks purchase and charge me 32 dollars for the privilege. When I learned of that, they said they could take the overdraft protection off.

Off course, they did not and fees started to rack up again.

It has been many months and I finally got in touch with the regional manager. It was like talking to a recording - we do care about our customers, we cannot refund fees, we now let you opt out of overdraft protection. What a drone. I then told her that I made a specific feature request and they gave me the wrong one. They should have said I would be better off with a credit card as it would have worked exactly the same as a debit card with overdraft. Only with no fees.

Then I hit her with a real bit of thinking. I would take my business elsewhere unless she refunded the fees. I did not tell her I would compromise and split it with her but I would have done so.

No leg to stand on, you say? Here is where someone who actually had responsibility for business, not just keeping order, would come in.

I am not a giant fish but I do pay them interest on a mortgage. There are other legit fees but let's keep it simple. I pay them $600 per month in interest and I am asking for a $300 fee refund. Think about this for a second. In order to keep a month after month stream of $600 they would have to give up $300 one time.

Expand it out - $600 times 12 months is $7200. And I have had this thing for over four years with the intention of keeping it for several more years.

So, by not refunding fees that never should have been charged in the first place (because they basically lied about the card features, intentionally or unemotionally), they would have a nice revenue stream for several years. I have one more level in the company to try but I have already started to shop around.

Which brings me to Capital One. Granted, nobody has a branch on every corner like Chase. Not even Starbucks can match that in this part of the world. But Capital One has four within reasonable distance from my house and office so it would be fine.

I walk in and the very lovely (personality) bank officer starts telling me about rewards programs and .05% interest rates. She did not know squat about their mortgages and was not too swift on the website, either. While I wait for a mortgage person to get back to me, I left the branch shaking my head.

What a Dumas! (Remember that TV commercial? Change the syllable accent).

Does any bank have people who know what they are doing? I said, show me a competitive mortgage rate to Chase and I move business checking and credit card, personal checking and savings plus two more credit cards over to them.

"Here, let me tell you about how many miles you earn when you write checks."

Too big to fail? Too big to give a crap.

I have to get a bigger mattress.


Y.W said...

The banking system is not th only place where people are robots, this country became "online only", what you can do online is the only thing you can, don't expect that by talking to someone you will actually achieve something. They are just training people not to think, it is scary.
I had this experience in banks, faculty "advisors" at honorable university at Boston, Barrons customer service, etc...
Actually, my only good experience was at a car dealership, you can actually talk to someone who can change things, that was great!!

Richard said...

Try using a credit union or a local bank. The credit Unions I have used are not only universally friendly but well informed about their products. For most people they have all of the features that you need and the rates are modestly better.

The Man said...

I was sitting in a meeting the other day with a bunch of people who are re-designing customer service for an organisation. Their "mission statement" is "To create a customer service experience that will be #1". They asked me what I thought. I said "Get a real person in this country to answer the phone and that person resolves the issue that I have called about. No hand-offs." They were shocked. They are starting off with IVR - you know: "Your call is important to us. Please enter your 16 digit identifier." etc. etc.

Quick Takes Pro said...


Quick Takes Pro said...

status update
Called around to replace home equity loan. My existing Chase loan seems to be the best around and I do not want to spite myself on this. More if it happens (and it is interesting).