Friday, July 03, 2009

Banks vs Credit Unions

I know, this is way off the usual path for me, but an experience a good friend of mine had recently brought back some painful memories. His story is below. To preface it, I don't know how many of you are familiar with my life after my divorce many years ago, but I made some very stupid decisions and wound up on the verge of bankruptcy. I was briefly on welfare, and spent about 10 years doing menial, low-paying jobs, just barely scraping along. I had a lot of banking woes. Sky Bank was the only bank that treated me decently, the only one that admitted that they had made a mistake and refunded fees to me. I eventually wound up working for Sky, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Too bad Huntington bought, raped, and pillaged them.

Anyway, somewhere along the line I had an employer who had Credit Union membership as a benefit. I joined, and have never looked back. Credit Unions used to be hard to get into, the laws have been relaxed and it is a lot easier now. Banks are all about making money for themselves, and they view you and me simply as a way to make money. Yet, with all their fees, they needed bailed out? Credit Unions, on the other hand, are all about SERVICE. Yes, their goal is to SERVE YOU. My credit union links my checking and savings accounts FOR FREE. No more bounced checks! If there is a problem, they CALL ME. They try to HELP me. They bend over backwards to save me from paying fees.

Credit Unions have all the options banks do, but they are non-profit, they want YOU to make money.

Here's Roland's story, and I hope it motivates you to check out your local Credit Union. You'll be glad you did! :) Oh, and if you feel like it, pass his story along to others.

An Essay to a Bank

Dear Citizens Bank,

Although my story will not sway you nor even cause you to flicker an eye, I hope that this essay will inspire the millions of individuals out there to not only demand you change your ways, but ultimately force the entire banking industry to change how it thinks and operates.

I know that we have all been there. Due to circumstances beyond our control we’ve accidentally bounced a check. And due to our accidental miscalculation you relish in taking that check, returning it immediately, and assessing us enormous fees that equate to an astronomical interest rate. When the other person gets the check back you also charge them a ridiculous fee to their account. The interesting part is that this is all done by automated computers, so you claim. Because it is done this way no individual can “stop your check” from being returned, even if you put money in the account at 9 am the next morning.

So let me get this straight…a computer system that over its lifetime may only cost you a penny to return a check and a penny to process it as received you are earning $37.00 from the individual who bounced the check and if you happen to also be the receiving bank of the returned check possibly $20.00 from that customer as well. So for simple math purposes let us round this to an even $50.00 that has been earned by the banking system that cost them roughly two cents to process. Now most banks do not return the check right away to the depositor, but in effect re-deposit it. But for sake of Citizens Bank, I will assume that you do return it to the depositor when you get that check back. A postage stamp at the current rate is about forty-eight cents, for simple argument. I pulled out my calculator Citizens Bank….that’s a ten thousand percent profit! For doing absolutely nothing!

Not to mention the headaches you have caused the customer and the depositor (if you happen to be the same bank.) This is why I blanket this to all the banking industry…you are all guilty of this to some degree. But wait…it gets much MUCH better! You see, you have discovered that if your system pays the largest check first, you get to bounce even MORE checks! Isn’t that ingenious? What a profit model you have! One simple math error on our part will make you anywhere from fifty bucks to three, four, even five hundred dollars!

So why do you do this? You claim to be customer oriented…you try to sell me multi million dollar advertising campaigns that stated you are the best bank around. In reality you all do this. You make money off of the poorest people of our society forcing them to stay poor. You rob those who are ignorant and have no other means. Rather than just charging one simple fee you continue to compound the fee until we are utterly unable to do more than go to the ‘company store’ and worship you as the golden lambs you are!

Let us now explore my personal story…you see, you claimed to be about customer service. In reality you are serving the customers for lunch. What you did to me the other day needs to be heard and told. I am going to say five words that will ruin your bank forever, causing your company and the entire banking industry to crumble under its own greed. You say I am one customer, I have no power. You say if I don’t like it go elsewhere…to where your satanic brothers do the same screw job! But no more. I will bring you down and you are about to see that my pen is much mightier than your lawyers.

On Wednesday of this past week I was so excited to know I received my first direct deposit into your bank from my hard working job. It took me two weeks of waking up, and going to work, to obtain a nice paycheck. In that paycheck my mortgage payment was going to be taken out. Normally I would have written a check, taken it to the post office, and dropped it off. In an attempt to earn higher profits you have instituted a bill pay program online. I was excited! I will save a postage stamp. During the set up there is always a long list of rules and regulations that nobody ever reads. You know this. You hope that this happens. And it did. I clicked “I agree.” Your tellers told me, that it’s a great product! All I need to do is go in, tell it when I want a bill paid, and it pays it. How much better can it get!?

When I went online I was amazed…the check I thought I was paying on Wednesday actually was paid on Tuesday. But wait…HOW? I’m over drawn! Oh my God! What do I do. Then I take a look at the check…wait…it was post dated for today…but you paid it the day before? You made an error! So I called your so called customer service number. That was when I learned how customer friendly you really were. Apparently bill pay when I put a day in, that is the day you promise to have it there by…not the day you plan on sending it! But that wasn’t how it was explained to me! You said, I agreed online to it, so it was my fault. Oh, by the way it will cost you $74.00 and we are returning the check! What do you mean you are returning it!? Yes, we are returning it because although you got over a thousand dollars today and could cover it, we just don’t care enough about you so we will be returning it. It is beyond our control! How is it beyond your control!? It’s automated!

So you’re telling me after I’m trying to explain to you that it isn’t my fault but yours, that I’m a stupid person and I should have read the disclosures better, even though your own staff told me something that contradicted it? That is correct sir! So now my mortgage company will charge me a $25.00 fee for a returned check PLUS it is now late? But it isn’t my fault!! I told your system to pay it today, NOT five days ago. Well, when you say that the date it is due you want us to pay it by that date. We don’t care if you have money in your account; our third party bill paying company doesn’t care. They want to make sure your check gets there on time. But you just made $74.00 for doing nothing!? But it isn’t our fault sir. How could it not be your fault!? Your online system is confusing…wait…now I get it. You WANT IT THAT WAY!

I flat out told the lady that because of that error they must make a million dollars or so a day….she didn’t care. There was nothing she could do and would not refund my fees. It was my fault that I misunderstood their very sneaky online bill pay program. So now not only is my mortgage past due, not paid, but I have just lost $74.00 to Citizens Bank and they really didn’t care. My Mortgage Company was charged most likely $10.00 by their bank, but will charge me $25.00 to cover their services. Because of this magnificent Bill Pay Program that your sales people pretty much sold to me as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I am now out $99.00 from my paycheck!

I am furious. I’m upset. You don’t care that in reality you made $74.00 on a one day loan if you can even call it that. My mortgage payment was $686.00. A debit card purchase for groceries which also went through, but you actually paid because you had no choice, for about $90.00 hit my account. Because you paid my mortgage first, you got another $37.00 out of me for my grocery bill! So let’s do the math Citizens Bank…on an APY you just charged me about 37,000% to borrow money for one night…that you still returned! How is that legal!? How!?

Well my friends, Citizens Bank could legally do that to me. And they did. They also have done this to you and your friends. And they will continue to do it! But not just Citizens Bank….every other Bank in America does it. Now some have better policies than others, but the majority follow the lines of Citizens Bank.

Don’t you think it would have been fair after charging me that much money to wait until maybe Noon the next day to see if I put cash into the account!? Actually you KNEW it was coming because ACH deposits hit the Federal Reserve SEVERAL days before you give me credit and they give you credit. You KNEW it was coming. But you didn’t care. You hope that when my mortgage company tries to charge me $25.00 through another check that it TOO bounces and you get more fees!

But then I learned an epiphany. I learned Five Words that will change it all. I learned how that $74.00 is about to ruin your bank! You see people; banks just are out there to make money. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing saying they care about their customers. They don’t! If you believe that you are already a slave to them. In reality they are a greedy business with no particular face…well almost. They will claim that you own some of the bank if you have a mutual fund or own stock…but you know there are other industries you can invest in. More than likely if you have owed these fees you are on the bottom rung of society. You don’t own stock or maybe even have a retirement plan. So now here is something they don’t want you to know about. Did you realize that you HAVE an option!? You can go to a Credit Union!!! Credit Unions, although they deal with banks to do their clearing, have so much money they can actually leverage for you and force rates so low that they can’t charge you so much for bounced checks!?

They give you home and personal loans at rates so low it’s incredible! They know your name! My account number is FIVE DIGITS LONG!!?? They are insured just like the banks for $100,000.00! And when you bounce checks they are more likely to call you or transfer money from a savings account…and this isn’t a fee that they charge. They realize mistakes happen and they won’t kill you for it! They have debit cards! They have Credit Cards! They have online banking! They also have online bill pay…however they put their disclosures in BIG PRINT! They know your name! And most importantly they are non profit! They are there for YOU…you aren’t there for them!

Citizens Bank…you have screwed me for the last time. You lost a customer. And although you are like, who cares…he’s so small and has no money…you say that about every customer. And these five words are about to change the entire banking industry. If you agree with me...if you’ve been screwed over by the banks and you now see they don’t care…if you want to join me in bringing them to their knees and forcing them in the true American way of Dollar Votes to realize we won’t stand for being abused this way…if you know friends who have been victimized the same way that I have been…forward this e-mail and print it…listen to these five worlds….


I implore you to leave your banks and find a credit union in your area. There are hundreds. Their ATM networks are so vast you wouldn’t believe. You can use your Credit Union’s card at other credit union ATMS for no charge! Just think of what you would save! Your bank and that other bank charges you nearly $5.00 for that!!?? Think of what YOU will save. Trust me. Citizens Bank doesn’t care about me. They don’t care about you. Every big bank in America…even smaller regional banks…they don’t care. They make fees off of your hard earned money so that their rich CEO’s can bankrupt the company and leave with millions.

So remember, That Bank Doesn’t Deserve Me! And if you want them to hear us in great numbers, take this essay with you to the bank. When they ask you why are you closing your account show them this letter. Make it count! And rejoice when you realize how much nicer Credit Unions are. I don’t work for one. I don’t really know anyone at one (until I met the friendly people the other day.) Now I love them. They are caring and understanding. Don’t let the Banking Industry tell us that they deserve such massive profits off of our or in my case THEIR mistakes.

Citizens Bank…You don’t deserve me!


A Very Unhappy Former Customer,

Roland Wolfgang.

1 comment:

Annette said...

Huntington Bank is like the one the author described. I know because we have used them in the past. I can't tell you how much crap they put us through. We have been members of the credit union for 10 years and haven't had any problems. They helped us refinance our house and save a lot of money etc. Good article.