Tolkien, artist

Customer Appreciation - NOT! A Banking Rant

So, yesterday's blog centered on customer service and the practice of getting a bonus for shopping with selected vendors. So many of you remembered your parents and others collecting the stamps (of various types) and turning them in for merchandise. But that's not the world we seem to live in today and I'm rather disgusted by the trend we have lately.

When I opened my first bank account as a child, we had passbooks that were kept by hand and got gifts from the bank for opening up an account or putting a certain amount of a deposit into it. We were rewarded for saving our money and for choosing X bank over Y. It's not that way any more, though, and this is one thing that hasn't changed for the better.

Yes, our accounts are better maintained because they are all computerized. Of course that can lead, and has led, to accounts being hacked and errors in deposits/withdrawals that can sometimes take months to fix. We can check our balances on-line 24/7, access funds at Automated Teller Machines (did you remember that was the definition of ATM?) throughout the world, and set up automated bill pay if you have trust that you will have the money to actually pay them when the computer will try.

But instead of offering incentives or even still giving free checking accounts, they are charging. The minute your money goes into a bank it is worth less than it was when you held it in your hand. It's rather like a car that loses half its value the minute it is driven off the dealer's lot. There is something wrong when I have to pay a bank to take care of my money.

I fully admit that interest rates are pathetic and that interest was one of the major ways that banks earned money. Additionally, the banks made really poor decisions regarding mortgages and business loans, not requiring the financial foundation for those loans that they had required when I bought my home in the late 1980's. Their lax controls and poor decision-making along with a static financial market led to their inability to make money at the rate they wanted. So to fight losing funds, they started charging for some services, finally extending those charges throughout the system including monthly charges on checking accounts. I admit it, but does that make it right? No!

My local credit union is building a larger building near my home. I'm seriously considering pulling my personal checking account away from my bank and its ridiculous fees and moving my money to them instead. The credit union doesn't charge a monthly fee for checking accounts. Maybe that will be my toaster for opening up a new fees chipping away at my very hard-earned funds. What do you think about your bank? Are you happy with their service and fees? Let me know.
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We've used credit unions for about twenty five years and we've always had good experiences. We've come to know our tellers so well, we don't even have to write out what we want. They go right to our account and we do business.

I've still got some Corningware from opening a bank account, but that was way back.
We'll still keep the majority of funds with the bank - our mortgage and our HSA accounts. But the bulk of our money is with our brokerage accounts and I'll probably flip our checking accounts over to a credit union by the end of the year. I'm so tired of fees for nothing. I write less than 30 checks a month, make two deposits a month, never bounce a check, and I basically get penalized for being a good customer. Crazy!

I still remember the two plastic dog banks I got by making deposits into my first bank account. One was a pink poodle that I remember to this day - probably because the entire idea of a pink poodle plastic coin bank is so horrific! LOL.

- Erulisse (one L)
I remember with such fondness the little books the bank gave us children (in the 1960s) with slots for dimes and quarters. When we filled up the books, we brought them in and started our VERY OWN BANK ACCOUNTS. I loved filling up those books with hard-earned coins. I doubt that modern children have any fond 'banking memories'.
I loved filling in those booklets. And my father was a coin collector. He collected the coins that actually had monetary value, I collected pennies. I still have a soft spot in my heart for pennies and I still collect the old ones.

- Erulisse (one L)
Credit Unions and Savings/Loans are far and away safer investments. I have $$$ in both types here locally but for "customer service" I much prefer my little savings/loan. They have a mandate inhouse to know their customers, by name, help them even when the customer forgets numbers (man that's me all over!) and advise them when something seems unusual with their account. I don't know any bank that would do that.

I rode my bike some years ago to Wells Fargo to ask after investing. The investment guy took one look at me and ignored me.

After waiting an hour I took my check for $170,000 to El Dorado Savings. Gee, he sure didn't know the book by this cover. (The $$ was for the sale of my mom's house & land btw haha)

I do wish interest rates were better; I keep my fingers crossed every time Greenspan comes up for air. I understand the necessity of keeping rates lower for business and personal loans but man oh man I was hoping to retire with a bit more cash in the system. Can't do that with the pittance they offer now. :P

Still S&Ls and CU's are far and away better, in spite of their propensity to be hacked; it happens at big banks too. My own employer has been hacked at least 6 times in the past 1 1/2 years that I've been here. All at Wells Fargo. So no place is safe, but that rate is ridiculous, especially when you consider how long it takes them to fix the problem and refund the $$ to the business that got victimized by their own system.
I agree, big banks can be more than annoying.

Your story of the large deposit reminds me of when I sold my mother's condominium after her death. They sent the settlement check to me via DHL which left the envelope sitting under the front door doormat! The check was for more than $250,000 and they left it under the doormat. I don't even walk in through that door - we use the garage door. It was pure luck that I even found the darned thing. I was livid!!!! I never used that delivery service again nor recommended it to anyone for anything.

- Erulisse (one L)
My account is with a building society - they don't charge for most transactions because the company is owned by the account holders, who are called investors. Proper banks are starting to charge though - the basic account is free but if you want any extras you have to pay.
I think that what you've got is similar to our Credit Unions.

I remember when I first went traveling through England in the late 1980's. I was rather bewildered by how to find a bank to get a cash advance on my Credit Card. But I've had just as much trouble here when I've needed an International Money Order for a country other than Canada or Mexico. It shouldn't be so difficult to work with money across borders!

- Erulisse (one L)
I used to bank with Wells Fargo, mainly because I used to move around a lot and I could count on them being everywhere (cockroach). Hated them. Lost money to them.

I switched to a credit union a couple years ago and am much happier with them, except that it/its ATMs are not as conveniently located.
Yes, I think that I will probably switch to the credit union for our standard checking accounts. I rarely use ATMs in any case, so I really won't be missing much except when I am travelling.

- Erulisse (one L)