This story stretches over a period of almost a year and involves multiple failures in customer service. Rather than being just a quick tale of frustration, it developed into a saga that can’t be elaborated in just one blog post.
I have left out the names of the guilty -not to protect them but rather to emphasize the universality of this experience. Indeed, this is a cautionary tale. We will never do business like this, and I hope you won’t either.
A bit over a year ago, our big bad bank decided to sell off its local branches. Ironically, it needed to generate fast cash to cover sudden expenses. Now, this bank is ranked one of the most hated in America, and I have felt the sting of doing business with it, too. Yet, the little bank that attempted to fill its shoes made the big bad bank look awfully pretty in retrospect.
Shortly after the takeover, my checking account suffered intrusion and a loss of funds. I suppose that is a very sanitary way to put it! Call it the new wave of thievery. Call it cyber-mugging. Whatever you call it, it hurts. Now, this also happened to me with the mega-bank, but it dealt with the outcomes more quickly and without causing my family pain. Funds were replaced with quicksilver efficiency, and I was issued a new temporary card on the spot. That was good service, and I suppose I expected nothing less from any bank, anywhere. But that positive expectation is not the norm, at least not yet.
Six months ago, my new mini-bank began its debacle in my eyes. My account was hacked and money drained. The daily bread for my family’s needs was squandered by someone online at a company that provides coolers for yachts! (Something not on the top of my Wishlist.) While the money was replaced within a week, the three debit cards associated with the account (my husband and daughter also have one) were shut down, too. And the woman at the local branch, who looked at me, and wondered aloud, “I hope I get this right.” She didn’t.
My husband who also has another account with the bank, saw his perfectly intact and un-hacked checking account also bamboozled, as that debit card was cancelled, too. The young lady who was taking care of the account settled for when in doubt, just shut down everything.
My husband works long hours and suddenly had no debit card either to address the basic needs of our life. The idea of having multiple accounts was to provide some back-up in case of a problem. The problem with that idea was that we had the back-up account with an amateurish bank. Now, he would also have to wait for a week to get a new card.
We were furious. After about a week, the new cards finally arrived. However, for security reasons, the bank-generated PINS to actually use them, arrived days later. Soon, nearly half of a month had expired. The bill-pay accounts that I had associated with this card, all tanked when invoiced. I had been robbed, but quite as suddenly, I looked like the person who was financially irresponsible. The slow-motion, incompetent bank was not making my life any easier. In fact, their laissez-faire attitude with what occurred with my account, coupled with the mistakes they added to it, made me feel abandoned and unimportant. Let’s face it, given this paradigm, the average customer is a disposable one. What kind of balance did one need to carry to get timely recognition and resolution of one’s problem?
What if this had happened when we were traveling? What if we had been on vacation across the country or abroad? All of a sudden, we would have no access to any of our money. And unlike the ugly mega-bank of our past, there was no 24-hour hotline to save us.
While this nightmare eventually ended, it would happen again – and again. After the third incident, I invoked the rules of baseball. Three strikes, and you’re out, and in this case, forever!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story.