obive.net

My recent banking drama, IE: How not to run a business

Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 7:14 PM EST

Some background: My primary checking account, which I opened 10 years ago in Cleveland Ohio, is with National City bank. National City bank was relatively recently acquired by PNC bank. As I have gone to various universities in Ohio and not yet settled at a new semi-permanent address, I still have all my statements go to my parents house in Cleveland.

Two or so months ago PNC sent all their newly acquired customers a letter in the mail enumerating how fantastic PNC is, how much their new customers are going to love PNC, how smooth and seamless the transition is going to be, and how uniquely fantastic their customer service is.

For the past month or so my local National City branch in Columbus Ohio has had National City banners no-doubt covering up PNC signs where National City signs used to be.

This past weekend, I saw on the local news how they were closing all the National City branches in Columbus and opening on Monday as PNC branches.

I went to deposit a check on Monday February 22nd. Normally I would use the ATM but I decided to go inside to clarify how my account was going to change/has changed. I gave the teller my endorsed check. She asked for my PNC card. I handed her my National City card. She said “this isn’t a PNC card” and I confirmed, “yes, correct” as I recalled the letter they had sent me and imagining what was about to ensue. She asked for my SSN and typed some stuff into her computer and said “your account hasn’t been converted yet and you wont be able to deposit your check here. You will have to use an ATM.” When I asked why they couldn’t run both National City and PNC software on their computers, the teller’s manager responded “the applications are too large to run more than one on the computer at a time.” Ignoring how much of a complete pile of bullshit that was (dumb terminal emulator’s don’t use much memory), A “seamless transition” would have them using 2 computers, one for converted accounts and one for unconverted. I was then informed that accounts in from north Ohio have not yet been transfered to PNC and that they wont transfer for another two months.

This situation is both foreseeable and expected. The Ohio State University draws students from all over Ohio, including northern Ohio and many of those students no doubt have National City accounts. Not to mention simple data-mining would have easily exposed that the address I have statements to is two hours away from the ATM where I deposit all my checks. Considering the letter PNC sent regarding the seamless transition, PNC’s sham is quite transparent.

Before I left the branch, I asked for a customer service number to report my issues to. The representative I spoke with gave me more excuses, was completely uninterested in my problems, refused to report my problems, and ended the call by essentially saying ‘since I can’t help you, I’m going to end this call’. Again, considering the letter PNC sent regarding their extraordinary customer service, PNC is quite obviously full of crap.

At this point I was considering switching banks. I head across the street to Chase. In the past I had regularly received cash incentive offers from chase to open a checking account. I asked the woman helping me if I could take advantage of a similar offer without having the actual junk mail with the offering on it, and she said I would have to have the letter.

Apparently Chase doesn’t offer a free checking account. Their cheapest account has a six dollar a month fee. She insisted that their great debit card offering and fantastic free savings account would make up for the fee. The savings account had a remarkably low 0.05 APY, which is a slap in the face. The debit card itself had an annual fee of 25 dollars, and the rewards associated with it were in ‘points’. Realizing the points were just a trick to confuse potential customers, I confronted her about it. She claimed that everyone she has ever spoken with has had no trouble fully understanding how the points work. The card gives 10 + (1.1 * dollars) per purchase back in points. Of course it isn’t explained so eloquently on their marketing material.

I asked her what the point-to-cash conversion rate was. Her response was that there was no conversion rate. I asked her if one could redeem points for cash and she said one could. I again asked her what the conversion rate was. She reiterated that there is no rate. I asked her how much cash one would receive if one decided to redeem one’s points for cash. She explained that would depend on how many points one had. Well no shit. I called her out on it and asked her to just explain how it would work with 1000 points. She then said it depends on if one redeems the points for a gift card or cash. At this point I started to lose it. I said obviously were talking about the cash redemption here. She then said she doesn’t know what the conversion rate was and that there was no way for her to find out. We, together, couldn’t even figure it out on the redemption website.

After doing some quick mental math by estimating, I told her to get what I have with National City with Chase I would be spending eight dollars a month. She gave me this look like I was exaggerating and was well over what I would actually be paying and then pulled out a calculator and calculated the actual cost per month and in an accusatory tone told me $8.08. Are you kidding me?

I honestly don’t understand how chase can have a single satisfied customer.

Moving on to the only remaining bank in the area, Huntington. Based on the specifications of the National City account I currently had, and what the Chase respective had told me, I drilled the Huntington representative on their specifics. During which she insinuated that I was nit-picking and purposefully wasting her time. I would not have to be as nit-picky if their offerings weren’t designed to tick and confuse customers in an effort to extort as many hidden fees as they could. To win my business she offered to give me a free half-order of checks. When I asked her how many boxes/books/checks a half-order consisted of, she again claimed I was nit-picking. Excuse me for requiring quantifiable terms.

How absolutely frustrating.