I’m a new customer at Bank of America. Though Citibank has bought billboards all over San Francisco to advertise their unsettling belief that money isn’t important, they have only one or two actual branches. This forces me to use other banks’ ATM machines, for which I get charged two dollars. Still, I stayed loyal until they turned me down for a small overdraft facility with a form letter that said, in block capitals, ‘YOU ARE NOT A PERMANENT LEGAL RESIDENT.’ Yes, I’d noticed. It hadn’t stopped them giving me an automatic overdraft for years, which I’d never even used.
Feeling rejected, I walked across the street from my office and opened an account at Bank of America. This branch exuded ugliness, from the low, dark building, to the ancient, grubby Windows terminals, to the tacky welcome kit. Though I missed Citibank’s shiny ATMs, pride kept me there even as the terminal crashed three times on the young Relationship Manager who was setting up my account. “Your first check will take three weeks to clear,” she said. That seemed fair enough.
Then I tried to confirm receipt of the credit card and debit card that arrived two weeks later.(They are almost identical, and butt-ugly. I’m not sure how customers with poor eyesight are supposed to manage.) On two separate calls, I had to sit through a six-minute pitch for an identity theft protection ‘service,’ which I didn’t want. There was no indication that my card had been confirmed until right at the end, so each time I was trapped with a robot huckster. “Welcome to Bank of America,” she lied.
Then I went to the branch and deposited a pair of checks. Since I was a new customer, the teller told me, they were going to place a ‘Hold’ on them for three weeks. I asked how long this policy would apply, and he consulted a more senior employee. I’d be on ‘probation’ for six months, she explained.
Probation? These people are getting automatic delivery of my paycheck.
I told the poor young clerks that these experiences were not what I’d hoped for as a new customer. They looked stricken. ‘We can’t do anything. Corporate doesn’t listen to us. Maybe if customers told them they’d do something, but we have no way to tell them. Maybe you should try to find out who to complain to.’ They had no idea who that might be. “Corporate?” they bleated.
Bank of America, are you listening? You’re toast.