Tag Archives: dealing with banks

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

A Very Personal Tale of Two Banks

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!