Bank Staff Speak Out: You’re the Prey

This past week, CBC Go Public did an investigative report on the incredible pressure front-line bank staff have to sell products. They mentioned two banks, but this isn’t about those two – they all do it. I have a friend that worked for a third one until she got out, and she confirmed the accuracy of the story. Plus, a few weeks ago, we talked about a fourth bank that charged a Kelowna couple over $25,000 in life and disability insurance on their credit line for more than 20 years.

So don’t focus on the bank, focus on the story. The what, why, how to protect yourself, and what to do is a full chapter in the Money Tools book. It really is worth the trip to Mosaic and the $20 – this is just another of many reasons.

Front line bank staff have always had a bonus or commission for sales. But low interest rates have now put a major squeeze on them. One described it as: A choice between keeping my job and feeding my family or doing what’s right for the customer. That starts with selling basic chequing accounts that they have for four bucks but jamming the customer into the $29 monthly fee. It means pushing credit cards right at the teller, and the constant drive to sell the really bad financial traps of overdrafts.

It starts when you show up at the teller with your ATM card. The screen will come up with their so called “Advice Opportunity” to sell you something. One teller shares that “customers are prey to me. I will do anything I can to make my sales goal.” A number of employees confirmed that elderly customers are their common target because they’ve grown to trust their bank for years.

Go Public did a number of hidden camera tests in Vancouver. They found one teller offering to activate overdraft coverage without saying anything about the fees. Another opened a $15 a month chequing account, never mentioning that the $4 one would have done the same thing and suggested opening two more accounts. And so on and so on…

Longtime employees shared that they feel like used car sales people. The story also covered a number of long term staff who have quit because of the incredible pressure to sell, sell, sell.

I guess almost $2 billion in profits each quarter just isn’t enough. It’s sick, sad, and bad. Banks are not your friend – I’ve talked about that for decades. And a note to the professor who stated this will come back to hurt the banks: I wish you were right, but you’re not. There are only five major banks. They all do it. Unless someone moves to a credit union, they’re in for the same treatment across the street at the other four.

Here is the link to the CBC story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/td-tellers-desperate-to-meet-increasing-sales-goals-1.4006743

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