Change is inevitable. It is kind of like death and taxes. No matter how well planned and organized you might think something is, give it time, it will change. Today’s rant is brought to you by my latest disappointment in banking and life upheaval 101.
I am so disappointed in Capital One! They bought my favorite banking institution a number of years ago, but it wasn’t until recently I actually started paying attention. [New goal in life: Be in a position where I can fire and forget a ‘stash’ account!]
This is a wee bit of a tale of woe. Years ago, I opened an account with ING Direct! This was ‘bleeding edge’ banking and I gave it a try, not to mention they were offering the highest rates of return for savings. I LOVED it. This was the BEST banking UI and experience I had ever encountered! It was better than my brick and mortar experiences, hands down! Mind you, this was all before the whole “Mobile First” approach and we back-office types were still trying to figure out how to plumb the system, not to mention how unsettling this completely virtual banking relationship seemed to many of us, BUT they offered a high-yield alternative to traditional banks.
The timing was opportune for ING Direct – they were already offering decent rates for minimal deposits. (Probably the incentive that got my attention…but we are talking about a decade ago…) I locked in a 5% rate on a traditional CD for as little as $1,000. Sure do wish I would have had more to risk!
The onboarding for ING Direct was old school. It was multi-factored authentication, but it required the end-user to jump through a few hoops. I actually liked it. I remember telling my fellow product designers about how ‘comfortable’ I felt every time I logged into that account.
Fast forward to today. A lot of time has passed. My cd matured. I rolled it over, but am not getting anywhere near as much interest! Capital One said they were going to make this new account the ‘best of both worlds‘ I am here to tell you they failed – epically! Dear heavens why did you have to make this so painful, to do the same things ING Direct was doing so successfully?
So I have been departing from BofA for months. I even sent them a break-up email in December. December 2012. I told them that I was leaving. I have slowly and methodically been disentangling myself from their clutches. Kind of like a long-term ex – every day you find something else that needs to be removed.
I moved all of my automatic payments. I moved all of my cds. This is important. I am a consultant. I don’t make a lot of money, nor do I have a lot of long term promises in my career, so I set up a system of rolling cds when I went into this field and it has saved my fat from the fire more times than I can count. Now I have to set up that nifty little system again, elsewhere. It is not a big deal, it is just annoying.
I didn’t realize all of the transactions I had going in and out of the megalithic institution, until I went to remove them. Even though I kept them updated, every step of the way. I would send them a note letting them know I was one step closer to departure, they never responded. They didn’t even notice until my account balances fell below $25. I have received multiple notices that my account balance has fallen below $25. That is just sad. They only care, when they legally have to care. What a shame.
Let’s get real. I am a very small fry in a much bigger pond. My numbers aren’t high enough that they are going to tip the balance sheet one way or the other, I know that. What I am is a long-time customer. BofA and I had a relationship for a very long time. Another metric of stability is churn. Everyone who is talking about customer service mentions churn. Sad part is additions are the only things rewarded. No one give a rat’s ass about the existing customer. It isn’t until the existing customer becomes a past customer and part of churn that the machine even notices them. This is sad.
In some ways, I think this passion to break off with BofA has influenced other parts of my life. I had been a long time customer of Sprint and I am not there anymore either. Customer service is a huge differentiator in this world of service providers. I can get the good elsewhere – how I am treated along the way is what is valuable to me.
Despite the universe’s best efforts to prevent me from reaching my goal of exiting BofA today – I did it! I marched into one of the local branches and extracted my remaining funds. It was weird. I don’t know what I thought it would be, but I was amazed at how it felt actually closing my account. The manager at this particular branch was amazingly good at her job and there is a possibility if I had done my banking here over the past couple of years, I may not have left, but….
It really wasn’t fair to this branch. They were always nice to me. I should have gone to the Houghton branch, they are the ones who discriminated against me and started this whole exit process in the first place. The nice person who ended up having to process the exit was curious about why I was so adamant about my departure, so I shared the story about how poorly I had been treated in December at the Houghton branch and how I had even written to BofA telling them of my plans and that the lack of response clearly communicated to me that my business wasn’t valuable enough to them, so I wanted to go where it is appreciated.
As we were processing the exit paperwork and putting together my cashier’s check, we reminisced about the bank the company used to be before it was acquired by the megalith BofA. When I moved to this town, I didn’t have much. My credit was crap. I was new in town. I needed a bank. Seafirst was the only bank that would give me a chance. That was 16 years ago. Oh how times have changed!
Seafirst was acquired by BofA long, long ago. Now, I have my ducks in a row. I have more than two nickels to rub together and my credit ain’t bad. Seafirst took a chance on me when no one else would. This is probably at the core of why I stayed with BofA for so long, I appreciated the actions of Seafirst. Well BofA long since has cashed in whatever goodwill had been built and I won’t miss dealing with them and their holier than thou staff who wouldn’t know how to provide quality customer service if their lives depended upon it. I like my new banks. They know me by name! They have had the opportunity to lose the business, but so far, they have more than risen to the occasion and that was before I really had made much of a deposit.
As if I needed one more confirmation of my choice, yesterday I noticed there was a charge on my account that shouldn’t have been there. I picked up the phone. I called the branch. It was right at closing time, so there wasn’t really anything they could do at that moment, but I was promised a call back first thing in the morning. Low and behold, my phone rang at 9 am. My account had already been reviewed. The erroneous fee that I had been charged had already been reversed! Yep, confirmation I had made the right decision!
This has been my year of complex transactions. I am almost done! The plan is tomorrow is BofA Freedom Day! Why in the world did I decide to throw another activity into the middle of the mix. I am awestruck at the complexity of buying a phone and changing the provider.
I understood the steps in my breaking up with BofA, but this is almost as difficult and some of it feels a little ridiculous. I understand why these things happen, gut I still have the right to be annoyed!
I continue to work toward breaking up with the humongous bank that has held me in their grasp for way too long. Every week, I am one step closer.
My new bank had the opportunity to show me whether or not my decision to go with them was right. Last week was the first auto-deposit of my pay check since beginning the transition. I don’t know where the mistake in numbers came in, but there was an error made. On Tuesday, I received an email from HR letting me know there was a problem with one of my numbers. I shivered in terror as this was one of my greatest fears when embarking on this transition from the old bank to a new one. I wrote back to HR to see if they had additional information that might help me to resolve the problem. Long story short, a number for a savings deposit was wrong and I had until 5 pm that day to get it resolved. Yikes!
One of the challenges I have been encountering with the mega-bank is all of the red-tape to verify my identification. I understand it, but they have taken it to a whole new level of ridiculousness. There are times when a human-being needs to be able to complete a transaction in a timely fashion without all of the red-tape. Hmmm…come to think of it, this is exactly the final reason why I decided to make the jump in the first place. This is the opportunity for the new bank to put its money where its mouth is and it is pleasant to report that they made it through this ‘relationship’ test with flying colors!
I checked everything over the past couple of days and the hiccup was just that, a hiccup. Every step of the transaction has completed successfully! Good job new bank! You not only pay attention to the Customer and appear to do a reasonable job of the Management, but you surpassed my expectations in the ‘Relationship’ part of the equation.
I finally have a target date to complete my break-up with BofA. June 11th. With any luck at all, this date will be known as BofA Freedom Day. If my estimates are accurate, I should be able to march in there and close out all of my accounts!
Just a quick peek at the snippet from their published report and it is easy to see why we are breaking up.
Nope – banking and customer service doesn’t have to be an oxymoron.
I think my problem is that I grew up on the tales of Jed Clampett and the Beverly Hillbillies. I remember how Mr. Drysdale would bend over backwards to make sure Jed and the rest of his family got anything and everything they needed. That is the type of banking relationship I want to have.
My hope was Warren Buffet might share those same values and instill that kind of customer service etiquette to help prevent BofA from bleeding out. Alas, that doesn’t appear to be the reality. <sigh>
Breaking up with the bank has been an educational experience. What I have learned is I am very good at identifying all of the steps and completing them successfully. I guess my dot connecting skills are expanding to dotting i’s and even crossing t’s.
When we started the process, it seemed completely reasonable to me to set a deadline of less than 60 days to complete the transaction from inception to complete. What I have learned is that is a ridiculously short timeline that could have been fraught with challenges.
What I did know when we truly started the process was to have all my ducks in a row. I did the homework. I knew the evaluation criteria every step of the way. Yes, I did ask a lot of questions, but nothing I heard came as a complete surprise. There were bonuses that we tripped over, but I am not stupid enough to think that happens all the time.
What I need now is a new job that will value my expanded skillset and appreciate everything I bring to the table. It is time.
Received a ‘thank you’ note today from the new bank I have chosen to replace the mega-bank I am breaking up with. It amazes me about how much that little, common courtesy meant to me. One thing they could have done better? They could have spelled my first name correctly. But that is not entirely an uncommon mistake.