Friday, April 08, 2005

Banking Woes, a true story

I heard this story the other day, I've changed the names to protect the innocent.

A man had deposited a large cheque in his account because he was planning a rather large and necessary (time-sensitive) purchase. He was a man who had a good credit rating, who worked hard for his money, and the bank account he deposited the cheque in he had been with for close to 14 years. Because of this purchase, the man had also used up his credit line and credit card he had with the bank.

The man found out that they had put a five business day hold on the cheque, so the man called the local branch where he had deposited it and talked to the manager to see if he could hurry along the process or perhaps release part of the cheque.

I'll paraphrase the conversation.

Man: Is there any way you can hurry along the process to releasing the funds?

BM: No

Man: Do you need to call the bank where the cheque is being drawn upon to verify that the funds are in the account?

Note: The man personally knew the drawer of the cheque and knew that the funds had been transfer on the drawing account to back the cheque

BM: I can't do that. You'd have to get a certified cheque.

Note: Certified cheques cost money. Getting permission from the drawer of the cheque to give the man's bank permission to verify that the funds are available is free. But it would involve doing some work.

Man: Is there anyway you can release a portion of the funds to me, and release the remainder after 5 business days?

BM: I'm looking at your account to see if you have enough room on your line of credit to gurantee the funds you want released but it seems you have no room.

Man: If I had room on my line of credit then it wouldn't be necessary to talk to you, I would take it from my line of credit and wait for the cheque to clear.

BM: Oh.

Man: Is there anything you can do?

BM: My hands are really tied, maybe if your home account was transferred to us like I suggested before then I could do more.

Note: This man has moved around, he lives in a city that does not house his home branch. Not an uncommon situatiuon in the age of electronic communication. The BM had raised the idea of account consolidation with the local branch in an unrelated matter.

Man: My question is, if I consolidate my accounts with you, could you have done any more to release a portion of my funds or hurrying along the clearing process?

BM: No, not really.

Man: Then consoldiation of my accounts with you is a moot point then.

Man: Thank you for you time, this has been most illuminating.

Banks have lost sight of who their customers are. We are nothing but numbers to them now. There are rules and guidelines to deal with any and every situation, unbending rules and uncaring rules. Unless of course you are rich, then the rules don't apply.

When was the last time you ever got any interest paid on your savings account with any of the major tier one banks? I read somewhere that a man had deposited with RBC over $200,000 in a savings account and guess how much interest he got? Two whole dollars! That is a travesty.

But how much have you paid in fees? Transaction fees, account insurance fees, per item fees, overdraft fees, cheque fees, over limit fees, account package fees, ATM fees...the list goes on. These are the big money makers for the Banks. Nibble away at your savings, one bite at a time.

I remember when my credit wasn't so good, and I was denied the opportunity to open a second savings account with my bank. Denied a savings account! I wasn't asking them for a loan, i was asking them for another place to put my money. I raised hell, as I usually do and the reason they gave me for not allowing me to have another saving account? Because I could deposit bad cheques in an ATM. But I thought that they don't release funds for 5 days for verification? Or they only release the level of money that can be guaranteed by funds in your accounts? Could it be that my bank was full of shit?

My solution? Go to a branch in a smaller city and get them to open it. Big city bank branches are full of people with power trips and big egos. Which reminds me of my favourite scene in a movie, the very end of Fight Club wth the Pixies playing in the background.

I have many issues with banks in general, and no doubt you'll hear of this in the coming days. Unfortunately they are a necessary evil. They are the gatekeepers and they hold all of the keys.

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