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 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!
I can barely wait!