I got a real paper letter in the mail this evening telling me that my local branch of Bank of America is closing. Decreasing foot traffic, more people doing banking online or by phone, blah, blah, blah. The only reason I mention this is because I’ve kept an account with Bank of America for the last 14 years. I originated three mortgages with them. And have mostly been satisfied with dealing with them overall. I always liked that no matter where I ended up in the country there was always a Bank of America branch. They’ve taken a lot of flack as one of those “too big to fail” operations, but my list of complaints has been pretty minimal until recently.
About a year ago all of the BoA ATMs disappeared from Cecil County, which was marginally inconvenient, but not onerous since there was a branch a few thousand yards from the office. With that now closing up shop and the next closest being on the opposite side of town from my normal travel route, that pretty much ends all but one part of my business relationship with BoA. There are too many banks and credit unions out there to be bothered with one that doesn’t even compete to be convenient.
I got a good enough rate on my last refinance that I’m not throwing them over the side completely, but I’ll only be funneling enough cash through them to pay the note on time. Reserve funds, and everything else will have to transfer over to another institution. The local credit union may not actually appreciate my nickel and dime banking, but they somehow manage to give me that illusion anyway. So when it comes time to refinance again, someone else will get that business too.
They may be too big to fail. I may be too small to miss. But they’d be well served to know that even out here in the sticks, we still have options. I’ll be exercising mine as soon as practical.
1. Too quiet. I’m generally a guy who appreciates his peace and quiet. Except when that quiet comes in the form of one of the meeting rooms I occasionally get stuck in. It’s not technically an anechoic chamber, but it’s awfully close. The small battery powered clock on the wall ticks with the sound of thunder and you can definitely hear the sound of the blood pumping through your ears when you’re the only one in there. As much as I appreciate a nice quiet workplace, apparently being surrounded by sound deadening material is my bridge too far. Surprisingly, even for me, there is such a thing as too quiet. Who knew?
2. Every Saturday. I get groceries every Saturday morning. It’s as ingrained into The Routine as brewing a pot of coffee first thing in the morning. Apparently a lot of other people also do their shopping on Saturday mornings too… which is why I don’t understand why every Saturday feels like I’m surrounded by people who are experiencing the grocery store for the first time. I don’t get the people walking around in awe of the abundance before them or the ones who don’t seem to have any earthly idea why they’re there or what they’re supposed to load into their cart to take home. Can we at least try to have a list, a plan, and not spend half the damned day wandering around as if the pasta aisle was the latest Magic Kingdom attraction?
3. Bank of America. Bank of America gets featured here a lot, but I actually tried hard to like them. Their online banking system is second to none and they had branches and ATMs just about everywhere I’d ever want to be. Their website is still top notch in my opinion, but over the last two months, I’ve watched their local ATMs practically drop off the face of the earth. I went from having four of them spread out along my daily commute path to having none. There’s still a branch office open locally, but not in a location that’s convenient to any of my normal travels… and it’s safe to assume I won’t be making any special trips just for the privilege of being a Bank of America customer. Sure, I’ll keep an account open with them in case I ever needed it, but I’m pointing my direct deposit and bill pay to one of the local credit unions. I really did like their big bank feel, but not enough to get stuck paying $5 in fees every time I wanted a few twenty dollar bills. There are just too many other, cheaper options to stick around for that kind of asshattery.
1. Bank of America (I believe this entry represents their 2nd oak leaf cluster for the year to date). I totally understand you wanting proof that my condo is covered under a master insurance policy that secures the entire building and not just the walls of my unit. Due diligence is a good thing. I’m happy to send you whatever information you need. I’m going to be less enthused the second time I send you the same information. When you ask me for the third time to provide you with exactly the same information I’ve sent you twice already, well, I’m going to start questioning whether I can really trust you to hold my mortgage at all since you can’t seem to keep track of something as simple as the name and phone number of an insurance agent.
2. Waiting until the last minute. All rumors to the contrary, I’m actually a fan of procedures. I like knowing that there is a way to do things and that if I follow the instructions step-by-step I’ll get a predictable result. When, after following all the required steps and procedures, I find that I’ve been bumped in favor of something that’s being thrown together at the last minute without going through the same wickets, it makes me wonder if in the future it might not be better to go ahead and wait to the last minute, declare an emergency, and then do whatever the hell I want. If flying by the seat of your pants gets the same result in the end and takes 1/10th the planning time, tell me again why I should follow the actual procedures?
3. Voicemail. Yes, thanks to the wonder of modern technology you can leave a message for me on my phone that I can listen to at my convenience. You see, though, the thing is that checking voicemail is never really convenient. I see that you called. If it’s a number I recognize, I’ll call you back as soon as I can, no message needed. If it’s a number I don’t recognize, you’re going to voicemail because I don’t want to talk to you so leaving a message doesn’t really do much beyond antagonize me. More often than not I’m going to delete your message without listening to it anyway, so why not save us all some time and effort? And if you do need to hear my voice immediately and I’m not picking up, chose one of the plethora of text-based communication tools available on your phone and send a quick “need to talk ASAP.” Even when I don’t have the time or interest to drop everything else to focus on just one conversation, there’s a pretty good chance I’m keeping an eye on text messages and email and will get back to you just as fast as my two little thumbs will carry me.
The problem is mainly that none of those charges was actually mine. So, currently I have $1 in my wallet along with a debit card that is deactivated. I have a police report that I can pick up tomorrow afternoon, and Bank of America looking into the situation. Fortunately, they were nice enough to credit my account after I filled out an affidavit and faxed it back to them this morning.
I talked to a “fraud specialist” with AT&T this afternoon who was able to tell me that the charges were made by someone using the name “Jackie.” They declined to give me any more information about the individual until I fax them a copy of the police report. So, Jackie, hear this… I’m coming for you. And when I find you, I’m going to latch on like a bulldog and make your life absolutely miserable. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to loose months of frustration on a singularly deserving target.