I strongly believe in a paraphrased saying that you can easily judge a business by how they treat those who can do nothing for them. In other words, how you get treated when you need help and not when they know they’ll make a profit from you.
My stepfather recently died and I became executor of his estate. After I had all the legal documents necessary, I went into the Royal Bank where he had dealt for over 50 years, but that started off badly and got worse. All I had wanted to do is to hand someone his credit cards and ATM cards to close, and a letter asking that his accounts be blocked. The receptionist asked me three times if I had an appointment. No, sorry – I didn’t, and was only in town for the funeral and to handle these basic starter issues on the estate. “Nobody has time unfortunately – we do have clients with appointments.” What I wanted to say was that my stepdad didn’t die with an appointment, but managed to simply ask to speak to a manager. Surely someone in this huge branch would have five minutes for me.
An assistant manager did come out to also ask if I had an appointment. At that point, my perception was that this question was just code for “please just go away.” She did volunteer that I could go to any Royal Bank to deal with this. What? I can’t get into the branch that has more than $1.3 million of my parents’ deposits? Did she really believe I’d have more success at a branch that hasn’t made some significant income from my dad over all these years?
After about half an hour I did get to meet with an account manager. When she took me into that wing, there were about 14 total offices. Three had their lights out, making me figure that those staff had the day off. But 11 offices did not have a single customer in any office! A half hour at reception fighting to get in, being re-educated that I really should have an appointment, and in the 10 minutes I was in the office wing there wasn’t a single customer – anywhere!
A month later, a staff member left me a phone message on some estate questions. I returned her call twice, then waited over three weeks with no reply. At that point, my only option was to start communicating with the Royal through the estate lawyer…at $375 an hour…until one of their Vice Presidents contacted me to apologize for dropping the ball. To this day, I still can’t get their cooperation in a number of areas. But I’m still getting the odd call with an apology for dropping the ball…again…and again…
There’s some good news, however. When I went to the CIBC in Montgomery for the same requests, it was as though I’d entered into a different world. Not the world of the large no-service banks. A lady named Maria, one of their Financial Services Reps immediately took me into her office and made the call to cancel his Visa card. She blocked the accounts, closed the ATM card, and even printed out his entire account listing and balances that was going to be needed by the estate lawyer. It made my day from hell a whole lot better to know someone actually cared and was helping me for no financial gain or profit.
If you’re ever going to die, remember that someone will be your executor and will need to deal with whoever you chose to trust with your business for two or three years more!