Please don’t think that I am here to bash small banks. Quite the opposite: my history as a writer shows that I am on the side of small businesses. Banking, as an industry, however, has some very unique challenges, ones at the moment that the mega-banks seem to be handling better.
The biggest challenge that banks face today is protecting customers against fraud connected with debit card number theft. It is imperative that all banks stay ahead of the hackers and their new tricks. This is not easy, and yes, it costs one fat penny. So, large banks with deeper pockets are better equipped to face these threat- bouquets with the green stuff. When companies have to hire ex-hackers to protect the cyber-ends of their businesses, they need common ground. That place is an orchard where money, indeed, grows on trees.
After my first hacking with my new little bank more than a half year ago, I was hit again in December. This time the bank’s customer service was slower. The bank assured me that the problems were my fault because my computer had to be filled with malware. My reply was “I really doubt that. I have state-of-the-art protection.” The rep on the other end of the phone didn’t like my answer. She didn’t turn hostile but her tone iced up.
That evening my husband did a malware check on my computer. Everything was spotless at my end of the virtual world, as I knew it would be.
No matter: it was time to deal with another financial earthquake, followed by a tsunami of automatic payments. I confronted the same range of issues, as with round one: the slug-like slowness in replacing the debit card and PIN (not only not delivered on-the-spot, but days apart!) The cascade of automatic payments I routinely make again fell into chaos. They didn’t work, and instead of reflecting a bad light on the bank, that focus fell upon my exposed feet.
It took more than two weeks this time to get things straightened out. When I finally made it through the labyrinth of getting my account stable again, another two weeks passed by, and it happened again! I would find out that with each fissure, the bank’s response to my dilemma worsened.
I had been patient and seen my family inconvenienced to the point of causing us real pain. At this point, I had also lost total confidence in the bank. I called it, “Game over!”
Last year, I watched Suze Orman give a lecture on PBS. She talked about our money being our “protection.” Yes, it is that! Without money, where are we in this life? We only need to look to our streets.
Had the bank failed me on a trip to Europe, or somewhere else, I could have ended up, quite frankly, sleeping on the street! This bank’s lax policies have the capacity to put its clients’ lives – and livelihoods – in jeopardy by not protecting their money.
So, trying to keep my aplomb intact, I went to the bank, withdrew what I had and closed accounts; I then headed to next large bank I could find, one of the national players. Yes, I knew it would be a physical inconvenience since no branch of these gargantuan ones was to be found any longer in the city of Hazleton. But I deemed it worth the trip to the outskirts.
Since my third round of banking woe happened only a few weeks ago, I am still cleaning up the disorder it left behind. Of course, it seems now like a perpetual headache, but I know that I must get through the brambles the organization created for me – and simply expected me to tolerate.
The problem is that they have asked me to tolerate the intolerable. They have asked me to put up with atrocious customer service, something that not only treats me as the “little guy,” but the insignificant one. Luckily, I thought enough of myself to walk away, but even that necessary, positive action brought another new set of temporary inconveniences.
Still there is more to this story. So, I hope you stay tuned to my next blog.