Have You Given Big Banks the Boot Yet?

With the slimy moves, big fees, and generally anti-customer attitude of big banks, I find myself wondering who bothers with them anymore, and why?

Over in the Weekend Open Thread, Pegasus points out a story in yesterday’s New York Times: U.S. Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages

The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.

The suits stem from subpoenas the finance agency issued to banks a year ago. If the case is not filed Friday, they said, it will come Tuesday, shortly before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims.

The suits will argue the banks, which assembled the mortgages and marketed them as securities to investors, failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law and missed evidence that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified. When many borrowers were unable to pay their mortgages, the securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value.

Fannie and Freddie lost more than $30 billion, in part as a result of the deals, losses that were borne mostly by taxpayers.

American Banker: Free Checking Thrives at Smaller Banks, Durbin NotwithstandingMeanwhile, as seen in the chart at right from American Banker (via Consumerist), big banks are dramatically cutting back on customer-friendly offerings like free checking.

I could go on and on about how evil and anti-consumer the big banks are, and how great credit unions are, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. So I’d like to just put a question out there: Are you still banking with a big bank? If so, why? I seriously would like to know, because I literally have no clue why anyone would give their business to one of these institutions.

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

47 comments:

  1. 1

    I Use BECU for Checking and Savings

    But use a big bank dividend credit card and ALWAYS pay the monthly totals off before the grace period and any interest charges…..the Big Banks pay me, the businesses I support pay them….at least I’m immune.

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  2. 2
    ChrisM says:

    A relative still uses a big bank out of lethargy. This is someone who has never refinanced their home loan, though he purchased about 10 years ago when interest rates were significantly higher.

    I use the same strategy as SoftwareEngineer.

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  3. 3
    Bubblebuyer says:

    Actually I just closed my accounts at Wells Fargo due to disgusting and questionable behavior at a local branch. Long story short is I made a deposit of cash and travellers checks to a teller at the local branch and received a teller receipt for the full deposti. Two days later I receive notification that my depost was short a $500 travellers check and they deducted $500 from my account. They refused to do anything about this other than provide me electronic images of the checks I had deposited and a check deposited at Wells and reflected on the teller receipt was missing. After pursung this for two weeks and getting nowhere, I closed my accounts and opened free individual and joint checking accounts at Charles Schwab linked to my brokerage account.

    What a difference! Great customer service, better capabilities like taking a picture of your check and making deposit via iphone and free use (after monthly rebate) of any ATM machine.

    Big banks are for suckers.

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  4. 4
    fschwiet says:

    Too big to fail! When the fertilizer hits the fan, the government will let smaller banks collapse but it is more than willing to bail out the big banks. So the bigger banks seem safer for investments that aren’t already explicitly guaranteed by the government.

    This is completely unethical, I apologize. Its probably wrong too, which serves me right.

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  5. 5
    glynes says:

    Yes, I’m still with a big bank, and one of the most notorious, it seems. I’d take all my banking business to my Credit Union but for one thing … the snarky, bored attitude I got from an employee when inquiring about rolling over a 401k to simple retirement savings. After being very clear that I wasn’t interested in an investment account, the best she could do was toss a business card at me for an investment counselor (who, when I called and explained my situation, advised guess what: a simple retirement savings account!). It will be a huge undertaking to transfer all my family’s banking to a new institution, and I’m going to need to work with someone who’s at least interested in helping me with my accounts.

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  6. 6
    HappyRenter says:

    What about US Bank? Is that categorized as a big bank? Are they good for home loans?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  7. 7
    bobthemagicman says:

    On a side note, aren’t these the same banks that the government just gave billions of dollars of bail out money too, I think there are bigger problems here.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. 8
    Ray Pepper says:

    I will stick with Chase. Their website and technology rocks. All the little banks I used to be at Venture/Frontier bit the dust. Now as I watch STSA/BANR on life support I don’t wanna bother.

    I still have an account at First Citizens Bank but last week they told me they were closing my branch in Gig Harbor and leaving just one open.. So I say forget it…….I’m sticking with the big boys for now.

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  9. 9
    tomtom says:

    When I first moved to Seattle I opened a free checking account with KeyBank. After a few years, they started adding fees to the account up to a charge of $7.95/month. Then I noticed an ad from KeyBank their free checking account. WTF? I went in and asked the banker why my free checking account had monthly fees but yet they had a free checking account? Then I told him to close my account.

    I’m now at a credit union with free checking and 1% cash back VISA. Works for me.

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  10. 10
    3rd Generation says:

    “They refused to do anything about this other than provide me electronic images of the checks I had deposited and a check deposited at Wells and reflected on the teller receipt was missing. After pursung this for two weeks and getting nowhere, I closed my accounts and opened free individual and joint checking accounts at Charles Schwab linked to my brokerage account. ”

    So, you walked away and let them steal $ 500 from you ?

    I cannot wait to hear your reason why.

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  11. 11
    Bubblebuyer says:

    “So, you walked away and let them steal $ 500 from you ?

    I cannot wait to hear your reason why. ”

    I pursued this and even got a VP in charge of local branches involved through my wife’s employer banking relationship. But the outcome was the same cycle of delay, deny and fake ignorance. I made a formal complaint to the federal regulator overseeing Wells and got zero action. So much for my tax dollars. I got to the point that I figured life was too short and I realizedI would need to hire an attorney to sue them and that would have cost me more than $500. I could have taken them to small claims court but I would have had to hire a lawyer to collect the settlement.

    I reported the travellers check stolen / lost by a Wells employee to American Express. They filed the claim and told them to contact them in 90 days after check was stale. Now I have to get a claim form notarized and they will replace the travellers check which I will cash at Schwab. Painful but still better than dealing with Wells.

    Now I warn anyone and everyone I come into contact with about the dangers in engaging in a business relartionship with Wells. Most people I recount the story to are horrified that a bank can effectively embezzle money from a customer. If you are a Wells Fargo customer you need to understand that a receipt provided by a teller is not considered proof of deposit by Wells. They can effectively accept your deposit and then remove money from your account claiming it was not deposited and you have zero recource. Not the kind of bank I am comfortable doing business at.

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  12. 12
    CCG says:

    Bank of Satan seems to have adopted a policy of slapping you with as many bogus fees as they can. Since not everyone will take the time to argue with them about it, it’s free money. I was in there at least three times in July.

    Also I’m one of those deadbeats who pays off my credit card every month so now I’m getting hit with a new $1.50 “minimum interest” charge every month. The final straw was when they wouldn’t let me log into my online banking any more unless I gave them my e-mail.

    I went to First Tech, but since I’m not working at MSFT right now, they wouldn’t take me unless I signed up for some online course about being financially responsible. I laughed in their faces and walked out. Yeah, I don’t know f— about being financially responsible.

    On the plus side I can recommend Washington Federal. Been there for 10+ years (for saving, not checking) and never had any evil behavior from them.

    Edit: Also, something is rotten in Denmark:
    http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=BAC

    I’ve asked around about the smoking gun (like WAMU’s counting future negative amortization on pay-option ARMs as current income) but I haven’t heard anything more specific than “they swallowed Countrywide, which is like the AYCE Special at Claim Jumper.”

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  13. 13
    HappyRenter says:

    By tomtom @ 9:

    When I first moved to Seattle I opened a free checking account with KeyBank. After a few years, they started adding fees to the account up to a charge of $7.95/month. Then I noticed an ad from KeyBank their free checking account. WTF? I went in and asked the banker why my free checking account had monthly fees but yet they had a free checking account? Then I told him to close my account.

    I think that US Bank charges a monthly (or yearly?) fee if you have less than 1500$ in your checking account. But don’t worry. Soon, currencies will disappear and we will go back to ancient forms of trading: “I give you a pound of cheese in exchange for a loaf of bread.” Banks and bank accounts will no longer be necessary with barter trading.

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  14. 14
    Steve says:

    I have been banking at First Tech my entire working life (12 years). Free checking is the minimum requirement for a banking relationship, and at the time (as now) credit unions were the only ones I found that offered that.

    The bank I used to use has been bought 2 or 3 times since I left them. I don’t even know who owns them at this point.

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  15. 15
    Greg Glockner says:

    I gave the banks the heave-ho 20 years ago. Now I feel old!

    Banking? 2 credit union accounts. Investments? Mostly index funds, held at E-Trade. Mortgage: planned to use the credit union, but the seller had a deal-we-couldn’t-refuse from a smaller bank. The one and only reason I use Chase and BofA: credit cards with reward points.

    The only thing I can’t understand is why more people haven’t done the same.

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  16. 16
    CCG says:

    By Bubblebuyer @ 11:

    Now I warn anyone and everyone I come into contact with about the dangers in engaging in a business relartionship with Wells. Most people I recount the story to are horrified that a bank can effectively embezzle money from a customer. If you are a Wells Fargo customer you need to understand that a receipt provided by a teller is not considered proof of deposit by Wells. They can effectively accept your deposit and then remove money from your account claiming it was not deposited and you have zero recource. Not the kind of bank I am comfortable doing business at.

    Lovely. Of course as someone pointed out these banks don’t need customers anymore anyway. Thanks to Uncle Thug, we’re all their “customers”, like it or not.

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  17. 17
    Blurtman says:

    Tim,

    You are a tad late on this call. Eric Cantona beat you to it a while ago.

    “..the revolution is easy to do nowadays….Instead of going on the streets (to protest),…you simply go to the bank in your country and withdraw your money from the bank,…and if there are a lot of people withdrawing their money, the system collapses.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/eric-cantona-bank-protest-2010-12

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  18. 18
    2kt says:

    RE: HappyRenter @ 13

    What a great future would that be. Would I have to own a truck, so I can carry all this cheese, milk and all other good stuff every time I want to buy something?

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  19. 19
    CCG says:

    RE: 2kt @ 18

    Nope, all you need are guns and gold!

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  20. 20
    No Name Guy says:

    I told JP Morgan Chase, formerly Wa Mu to kiss off 6 months ago after paying off the mortgage. The only thing I’d used that checking account for was to pay said mortgage anyways.

    Many years earlier, I’d switched my savings over to a credit union. When I went to close the savings account, the then WaMu drone asked why – I told them I was getting 6 times the interest at said credit union (1.50% versus the WaMu 0.25%). The guy looked somewhat crestfallen. I felt sorry for him personally, but not the business.

    I’m lazy – it takes a lot to get me to switch – well those losers at Chase / WaMu managed to do it – they actively drove me away. Screw ‘em. I’ll never go back to a big bank.

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  21. 21
    3rd Generation says:

    11. Bubblebuyer
    September 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
    “So, you walked away and let them steal $ 500 from you ?

    I cannot wait to hear your reason why. ”

    Thank you for your well written detailed response. I understand where you are coming from and what you have been through much better now. Frankly, from your first post, I thought you’d just rolled over and gave those pigs $ 500 for free and I was ready with the flame thrower… Thank you for a valuable lesson.

    These swine are just BEGGING to be made an example of. . . This crap has To STOP.

    Why not get one of the consumer pimps/presstitutes on/in local media to do some actual genuine investigative reporting on this little rip-off scam they have going? The last thing daddy Swine needs is MORE bad press?

    Intimidate the sh * t out-of-them. Legally record every conversation, indicate you are writing a book, mention this blog, show up at the branch managers house with a TV crew, go to the tellers second job, etc. Contact 60 Minutes…

    Take your evidence and file a small claims case. Maybe they don’t show up. Demand a summary judgement with costs and fees attached. Be a Ready Freddy.

    Investigate the teller and branch manager. Odds are one of the two will turn up with a sleazy past, may be even a serial child molester or former embezzler, or worse a title company officer. – sh * t, who knows, being bankers anything is possible. Maybe catch them in a carnal adventure with a horse?

    I’d work out on those filthy animals if I were you. I’d make them tremble every time the mail man came by with anything Certified or Registered…

    Have a safe weekend.

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  22. 22
    Macro Investor says:

    By CCG @ 19:

    RE: 2kt @ 18

    Nope, all you need are guns and gold!

    The gas station has too much cheese. They’re currently only accepting bread for gas. Drat — I have to go back home, drop off the cheese and get bread. Lucky I have some.

    The Best Buy is only accepting gas for DVD’s and electronics. They have too much bread and cheese to get rid of.

    So you have to start with bread to get gas, then trade the gas for a TV. That’s going to get frustrating pretty quick. I guess using a gun is the best way.

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  23. 23
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    I’m actually planning to open a First Tech account this weekend so I can start transferring everything from Wells Fargo. I’ve been with them for years and years due to laziness, but I’ve had it with their constant attempt to suck fees from my account.

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  24. 24
    Peter Witting says:

    RE: HappyRenter @ 6 – I love US Bank, and have banked at the same branch in Wedgwood for years and years, before it was US bank (can’t remember the previous incarnations). Had a couple of HELOCS (both long since paid off) with them, and can report no problems with credit, checking, savings or small loans.

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  25. 25
    Ross says:

    I keep signing up to accounts at the big banks because they keep offering me free money to do so. $100-$200 for opening an account; I usually need to setup direct deposit (my employer lets me easily subdivide my paycheck to multiple target accounts), and I close the account 3-6 months later, netting $1500 or so a year in income. All my real banking is done at the credit unions, of course. Though, there’s very rare occasions where the big banks are useful – for example, sometimes a big bank is better at having foreign currency on hand.

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  26. 26
    Troy says:

    I’m still using Chase (opened at WaMu) because BECU doesn’t support business bill payment and having my personal account at the same bank is handy. If BankSimple is as awesome as I hope, I may reconsider that. I’m waiting for either BankSimple to launch or BECU to get business bill payment.

    To the person who says Chase’s web site rocks, I have no idea what site you use. Their main personal and business banking site is horrible. 1996-era usability wrapped in a 1998 design.

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  27. 27
    WillyNilly says:

    Wells Fargo for personal, over 29 years. Union Bank for business, 12 years.

    Bartering. Seriously? Look what happened to the Indians and other indigenous people, they did not have banks. Try bartering for your social security & healthcare. Go back in time 150 years, like 95% of you current reality would be vaporized. Stop by the Black Diamond historical museum to get a taste of the good old days – a permanent camping trip. Mmm Mmm good!

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  28. 28
    2kt says:

    I think if one reads the terms of the contract, maintains the balance above the required minimum and does not write checks when money is not there, the fees at big banks are minimal.

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  29. 29
    wreckingbull says:

    If you are military or ex-military, I highly recommend USAA Federal Savings Bank. They only have one branch, in San Antonio, but you can deposit checks with your smart phone, and they refund ATM fees. You always get a non-ESL human on the line when you call. Been using them for 20 years now.

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  30. 30
    Cheap South says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 29

    Yes, USAA is the way to go for banking AND insurance (provided you are eligible). My nephew is in and he always comments on the extreme polite phone service, and the fact that he can deposit checks by taking pictures with his smart phone.

    I am still around with BoA checking. I keep a low balance; but I have a lot invested in their bill pay.

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  31. 31

    I don’t tend to stereotype, so I don’t group all banks of a certain type together.

    Bank of America has been incompetent since their SeaFirst days, so other than having an Alaska Airlines frequent flyer account with them, I don’t do business with them.

    WAMU got to be worse and worse to deal with the larger they got, so I dumped them. But then I needed a place to stash some money, and opened a savings account there. Unfortunately dealing with Chase is even worse than dealing with WAMU was, but inertia has kept that money there.

    Most my banking in recent years has been with smaller banks, mainly because you don’t have to stand in a long line each time you want to do something, and they don’t impose stupid rules, like not allowing you to deposit a check made out to you and your wife just because you don’t have a joint account at that bank.

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  32. 32
    Haybaler says:

    I continue to maintain a checking account at B of A having been at this branch location since it was SeaFirst. My reason for remaining with B of A is that they have branches everywhere. I travel alot.

    I like to go inside the branches to cash checks, even though they have these cool new cash machines outside, I am old enough that I don’t want to learn new electronic stuff…the microwave and the remote control tv took years to master.

    I’ve noticed for some time that the actual branch facilities are becoming rundown and grungy. The landscaping are worn out weedscapes and the parking lots are dirty. I suspect this is an indication of financial pressure on the institution.

    Inside I have observed that customers are subjected to persistent sales promotions by poster and teller contact on each transaction….No, I don’t want a mortgage at any price, I’ve been working hard to pay mine off, thank you.

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  33. 33
    Toad37 says:

    Chase is the worst, bar none.

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  34. 34
    Pegasus says:

    I still keep a checking account at Bank of America as much as I dislike them mainly for the convenience of withdrawing cash in amounts that don’t work well with the ATM system and their having many branches. I also am easily amused while standing in line being the only one that speaks English.

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  35. 35
    GrizzlyBear says:

    I withdrew all my money from B of A, and closed my credit card accounts two years ago. I hate those scumbags for more reasons than I care to explain. I hate bloated corporations, period. Support the little guy, even if it costs a little more.

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  36. 36
    StillRenting says:

    I now have a BoA account because my husband has used them forever and my bank before we moved here was an east coast chain. So yeah, basically it’s inertia for us.

    By Haybaler @ 32:

    I like to go inside the branches to cash checks, even though they have these cool new cash machines outside, I am old enough that I don’t want to learn new electronic stuff…the microwave and the remote control tv took years to master.

    The first time I deposited a check at BoA I presented it and my deposit slip to the teller and said “I just need to deposit this check, please.” She started to walk me outside to the ATM to show me how to do it there. I had to say, “No, thank you, I know how to use the ATM. I’d like to make the deposit here.” She was a little perplexed by that, but finally made the deposit for me.

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  37. 37
    Dirty Renter says:

    I use a megabank. Great technology, free services and 100 free trades per year.

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  38. 38
    ricklind says:

    No mega bank here.
    Rick

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  39. 39
    fubarrio says:

    if you travel overseas a lot the mega banks seem to have a leg up for convenience — specifically, at certain banks trying to initiate a wire transfer without showing up in person (for personal accounts, not biz accounts) was completely impossible.

    i would also add, that as much as i despise some of the corp policies of the bigger banks, the level of customer service you get has A LOT to do with the branch you frequent and how well they know you…this holds true with a lot of foreign banks in far flung places as well.

    peace,
    fb

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  40. 40
    Peter Witting says:

    RE: Toad37 @ 33 – Agree, for reasons I choose to not explain.

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  41. 41
    Lanny Poffo says:

    By fschwiet @ 4:

    Too big to fail! When the fertilizer hits the fan, the government will let smaller banks collapse but it is more than willing to bail out the big banks. So the bigger banks seem safer for investments that aren’t already explicitly guaranteed by the government.

    This is completely unethical, I apologize. Its probably wrong too, which serves me right.

    I prefer the term Too Big to Prosecute – the failure has happened and is ongoing…

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  42. 42
    Real World Express says:

    One has to wonder what the function of these standard banks is anymore.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  43. 43
    Jonness says:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 20 – So sorry for this long and crazy post. I have a mutual disrespect of WAMU due to a very sour experience. I’d like to title this experience as, “How a Transient Lunatic’s Crazy Ramblings Took Down the Banking Industry.”

    I was attending college full time and simultaneously working a full time job. I was pretty overwhelmed and got lazy about balancing my checking account. Instead of doing a true balancing, I simply logged onto the WAMU website and checked my account balance in order to make sure I had enough money in my account to use my debit card. Then at the end of the month, I would do a sanity check on the listed debits and deposits. All went well until one day I checked my balance and the screen had dramatically changed since the last time I looked at it. I had massive overdraft charges and needed to deposit some crazy amount in order to bring my account current.

    At first I thought, “no way.” So I computed out all my transactions, and it turned out the latest computer screen figures were correct. I had overdrafted the account, and every time I made a transaction thereafter, I was dinged for a $35 overdraft fee. Heck, some days, I would go into the same store twice and buy like $2 worth of stuff each time. So $4 worth of items cost me $74. As a struggling college student earning low wages and trying to come up in the world after a prior period of unforeseen health problems had financially devastated me, I was furious.

    After much detective work on my end, I was told there had been some changes to the calculation and display of my account but that the current figures were most likely accurate. I confirmed the accuracy of the figures, agreed to pay the amount I had overdrafted and asked that the overdraft fees be dropped. The bank employee told me they were willing to forgive two of the overdraft charges, but I would be held accountable for the rest. She said the bank’s calculations of my account and website are provided as a convenience to the customer and are not intended to be relied upon as an accurate representation of the account. Apparently it was made clear in the customer service agreement that customers have the duty to personally balance their accounts in order to obtain accurate and reliable figures.

    OK, so I eventually reached the level of getting a phone call from a lady who informed me she was a high-level manager in the corporate office. We proceeded to get into a philosophical argument that seemingly went on forever. We were behaving like an old married couple that just refuses to quit. I kept catching myself thinking that I couldn’t believe she stayed engaged in the phone call. By this time, I’m seriously raging off on her, and she is trying to gun me down under the pretense that she is performing her duty as a calm matter-of-fact business professional who is citing the rules and is in no manner or form trying to ruin or upset my day. But really, this thing has progressed to a power struggle between a man and a woman who are inventing images in our heads of what the other must be like and how either of us might appear if we were to see each other in person. In our minds, we have invented each other as the perfect opponent who must be defeated in order that we might prove our value and capability in this world. Neither of us wants to lose the battle. Wise and fierce arguments are being set forth by each side that are countered with even wiser and fiercer counter arguments. The ground rules are being laid out as we go. I agree to her demand of not speaking until the other person has completely finished with the point they are making. It seems like a fair way to do battle.

    I put all of my intellectual weapons forth. Everything I have ever implicitly understood, learned, worked for, robbed, or plagiarized spews from my lips in an attempt to wipe out my opponent. Yet, despite my noble efforts, she is clearly wiping the streets with my blood and loving every second of it. She has gunned me down so completely that, near the end of the conversation, I have been reduced to nothing more than a stark raving lunatic searching for a way, any way, to screw up her day if even in the slightest manner. I realize I can’t take an intellectual beating of this magnitude and then simply hang up the phone and go about my merry way. It’s not about the money anymore. It’s about getting revenge on this lady who left me legally and intellectually hogtied, broken, desperate, financially strapped, and alone in the world. She has played the part of a wealthy goddess who has led a life of privilege, worldly validation, and intellectual perfection. Meanwhile, my part was that of a struggling, broken down, transient loser who did everything wrong in life and was simply hoping for a hot meal in the soup line.

    It was clear my power had been reduced to zero. All of my weapons had simply bounced off her shields. I had told her I thought the bank was unethical, and she was unethical for working in a bank that would treat its customers this way. I had threatened to get a lawyer and sue the bank to which she had very confidently informed me that WAMU had a team of business and legal experts who had drafted the bank’s policy in such a manner that it would be impossible for me to win in a court of law. In short, she had said I did not proactively balance my checking account, I withdrew money that was not mine, the bank’s policy is to charge $35 for each overdraft withdrawal, and that’s that. She also reiterated the bank’s generous policy of forgiving two of the overdraft transaction fees.

    I had nothing left. It was over. It was time to accept defeat from my mighty opponent and allow her to pull out her knife and perform the final merciful slashing of my throat. I mean seriously, what could I do? She gunned me down in the street like a rank amateur gunfighter, and I lay there defeated, dying and bleeding watching the life slowly drain out of me.

    In a final act of desperation, hoping I could at least strike even the slightest counter blow before breathing my last dying breath, I made a seemingly impossible claim that went beyond the absurd and straight out into the realm of the words of a complete lunatic. I informed her that her bank’s policy of preying on its customers would eventually backfire and collapse the bank. I urged her to consider the morality and ethics of her actions and consider what sort of person she had become for working so high up in an organization that treated its customers in this manner. I urged her to cash out all her WAMU stock and break off all ties with the bank and find another organization to work for that treated its customers in a more ethical fashion. I tried to convince her that businesses of the past thrived on a policy of the customer always being right. I wanted her to perceive what modern business had been reduced to and that the new model could not be sustained due its ever increasing predatory nature. In order to generate increasing profit, it had to increase its evil acts toward its own customers, which in turn are the life’s blood of the company. I had no legal ground to stand on, but I hoped she would at least partially agree that the bank had performed a slight bit of injustice on my behalf and did not fully live up to its stated motto as “The Friend of the Family.” I needed that morsel so that I could retain the slightest bit of self worth after ending the conversation and hanging up the phone.

    But my opponent was a complete and perfect warrior. My kind of desired mercy was inappropriate. The implicit battle rules laid out from the start stated that the only acceptable mercy shall be in the form of the final slashing of the opponent’s throat. So she pulled out her knife and proceeded, with great pride, to inform me about the size, stability, and ultimate power of the great banking institution for which she worked and all the ways in which it contributed to the community. According to her, the bank only engaged in ethical practices, the collapse of the bank was impossible, and it truly was “The Friend of the Family.” She let me know that my claim that “her stock in the company and her paychecks were nothing more than tainted money earned off the suffering of the impoverished unfortunates of America” was absurd.

    So that was it. The gruesome deed was done, and my throat had been dutifully slit. She had proven beyond all doubt that the customer is always wrong. Everything I had been told and made to believe since I was a child had turned out to be a lie. Laying there on the ground gagging with the blood gushing from my throat, I knew I was a dead man with only seconds to live. Realizing under our rules of engagement she could not interject until I was finished with my point, with 100% conviction, pure anger, and total resentment of my defeater, I told her she only need “wait and see,” and then I slammed the phone down on the receiver.

    Over the course of the next two years, my opponent most likely forgot about her convincing victory over me and went on her merry way basking in her glorious stock options and dreaming of eventually retiring with her mega-millions. I most likely had been nothing more than a toy to play with that became fashionable for a couple of hours and then quickly left her mind. Oh, I’m sure she probably bragged to a few friends about how some lunatic on the phone recommended she cash out before the bank run occurred, and they all got a big laugh about it. But other than that, the memory of the conversation faded into her past.

    Suddenly, and in a manner as unexpected as the original change to my computer screen that touched off this battle, the gods reached down from the heavens, plucked my lifeless corpse from the grave, and delivered the glorious news. There had been a bank run at WAMU that occurred as a direct result of engaging in predatory lending practices to its customers. Sometime after the bank completely collapsed, I learned a new law was enacted that forces the banks to allow customers to choose whether their accounts will be debited for an overdraft along with an associated fee or the transaction will be voided. I also learned that many banks reduced their overdraft fees or offered to link savings accounts directly to checking accounts in order that customers are not charged an extra $35 for mistakenly overdrafting $1 on a cup of coffee.

    These days, I find myself wondering from time to time if my adversary’s stock options went all the way to $0, and if so, has she ever thought back to the warning she got from the transient lunatic who advised her to cash out and pursue a more ethical career prior to WAMU customers giving up on the bank?

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  44. 44
    Interesting... says:

    Well, when we see some of Chase, Wells and other TBTFs bonds trade at over 50% on yield within the next year, I think some will wish they had reconsidered.

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  45. 45
    masaba says:

    I use USAA. I’m not sure if they qualify as a ‘big’ bank, but they have free checking, refunds on ATM fees, great insurance plans, and they still call me Captain when I talk to them on the phone.

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  46. 46
    WestSideBilly says:

    RE: Jonness @ 43 – A+ story

    I have to use the inertia excuse. I use Wells Fargo for checking (which is really a misnomer, I haven’t written a paper check in at least a year), ING for basic savings (since they actually pay a decent interest rate). WF hasn’t screwed me on fees, ever (unlike BoA). The branches I’ve used have always been good to me. They have branches and ATMs most of the places I travel to, and are pretty good about having common foreign currency available at reasonable exchange rates. I’ll add in the laziness clause: the thought of trying to get all my direct deposits and bill pays set up with a new account is not an appealing one.

    Credit cards, I have Citi and Chase, had BoA (started off as MBNA, BoA bought them and turned a good card and a good web site into a company trying 6 ways to Sunday to screw me over on random fees, with a website that would have looked OK on Netscape). Citi has actually been good – I had an issue where one of my payments didn’t go through, they refunded the late fee and interest without even putting up a fight. Chase, meh, they’re OK and the card is good for a few things.

    I dealt with a guy who had USAA over the weekend, and they have a huge limitation: It’s nearly impossible to get a large amount of cash on short notice. Especially when their San Antonio branch is closed. Credit unions have a similar limitation if you’re out of the area.

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  47. 47
    EastSideCoug says:

    I moved from BOA and Chase over to BECU a year ago when the whole “move your money” campaign started.

    http://www.moveyourmoneyproject.org/

    No regrets at all. I get nice dividents every month at BECU, and made more interest in a few months than I did all year banking with the large banks. What really pissed me off and got this whole thing started was the “you’re not rich enough fees” that Bank Of America wanted to charge me because I had less than 25K in my combined accounts. Apparently, BOA wanted to dip their hands in my pockets unless I start investing in their CD’s, or money market accounts.

    Unfortuantely, I can’t help which bank buys/sells my mortgage, so I’m certain one of the big banks will eventually get my mortgage. However, I’m pretty frim against banking with the big six banks again. They don’t deserve my money.

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