1679 I am a Bank Magnet
It’s nice to feel wanted. And in the last week or so, I’ve received pitches from 39 of the 40 banks and credit unions that populate my town of about 40 thousand people.
The 40th is the one where I have my accounts. I’ve heard from them, too, but in a strangely presumptuous way.
Here’s the story. The Little Bank on the corner -- the one I started with ten years ago -- sold itself to the Midsized regional bank from out of town. A couple of years later, Midsize realized it had bitten off more than it could chew and sold itself to the Bigger Midsize Bank from out of state.
Then, Bigger sent notices to customers of Midsize painting a picture of a banking paradise to come. It was almost evangelical in its enthusiasm and its promises of a better world in the next bank.
This awakened the rest of the sleepyheads around here and they’ve tried to seduce us with come hither looks and piles of fine print.
When the actual transition of Midsize to Bigger took place, all the customers received a package of “information” bigger than a phone book. Tough to read all that and retain much. But the gist of it was there would be hoops for the customers to jump through in order to maintain services like direct deposit and direct bill deductions.
As soon as the Gospel According to Bigger reached us another round of competitors’ ads came in like high tide.
So the question now is should customers leave Bigger and go with one of the other locals? That would require the same hoop jumps as staying put. So maybe the question should be whose hoops are easiest to jump through?
Inertia says stay where you are. Annoyance says move.
A bank is like a light switch. You flip it and the lights go on. If the lights don’t go on you have to check the fuse box or breakers. If that doesn’t work you have to call the electric company. But usually, when you flip the switch, the lights go on.
Same thing with a bank. You need to deposit or withdraw, visit your safe deposit box or trade your coins for bills, you do it and that’s that.
You have questions, you leave them in the question box on the website. Or you call, just like you would Con Ed.
Except when you do call, you listen to the menu -- the endless menu -- and finally choose to push the number for “Former customers of Midsize.” Which brings you to “your call is very important to us…” We all know what that means.
But in this case, you get a little more service. They tell you the expected wait time. Twenty three minutes the first time. In the middle of the night, the answer still is 23 minutes.
Who has 23 minutes to wait for some cheery customer disservice operator from Charlotte or Bhopal or Manila?
So wait until the branch opens and learn there’s a new vocabulary in place. The tellers who used to have answers now say things like… “I’ll have to call someone for that answer” or “um… uh…” or “Let me look that up for you.”
Now where did I stick those mailings from the other 39 banks?
Today’s Quote: “When you act as if you are insane people are liable to think you’re insane.” -- Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, a Republican, on Donald Trump.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016