Saturday, December 03, 2011

WSJ: Customers to Banks: It's You, Not Me

"From stall tactics to unexpected fees and awkward conversations, other customers of big banks are running into similar snags when trying to move their money elsewhere.

This comes as bank customers are lashing out at large institutions in a way that hasn't been seen since the early days of the financial crisis. Fed up with rising fees, a flood of foreclosures and strict lending requirements, they are pulling money out of big banks and depositing it in community banks and credit unions.

Much of the recent anger stems from bank plans to charge customers a monthly fee for purchases made with a debit card. Although the banks have dropped those plans in the wake of public outrage, many customers are still seething."

Read the full article here.

I've had a recent experience with this, though not exactly as the above snippet describes.

When Bank of America announced their now rescinded debit card fee, like many folks I started hunting around for alternatives. I was barely using my BoA accounts anyway, so severing the final ties and moving on would have been pretty easy compared to what other BoA customers might have experienced.

Two things subsequently happened that canceled my plans. The first is that BoA gave up on the fee idea after facing a vigorous customer backlash. The second thing that happened is that one of my various present work activities puts cash in my hands almost daily, which I normally seek to promptly deposit (I hate carrying cash). My local BoA branch has one of those new ATM machines that can accept cash and checks without the need for envelopes. Just stick the money in, the machine counts it, it goes right into your account and you go on your way. The alternatives around here where I live, however, as of now their machines cannot do this. Those machines still require deposits be made with envelopes, and guess what the staff of those institutions frequently forget to stock...

Possibly the only thing in the universe with a gravitational pull greater than that of a black hole is convenience.

I'm sure that the alternatives around here will catch up eventually, but until then (or until BoA does something really messed up) I'm staying put. Since I mainly use banks like BoA only as physical gateways into cyberspace where most of my financial activities take place, it would probably take another ridiculous fee proposal to send me running for the exit, and that's probably true for most customers. Maybe by now though the people at the helm of BoA and similar institutions have figured this out.

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