Tag Archives: small investment clients

I got Fired and Ripped-Off Twice

…other than that, it’s a great week.

Getting fired by CIBC Wood Gundy was both humiliating and a little unnerving a couple of months ago. It’s never happened to me before, and I needed the few months to calm down before I could use the words CIBC Wood Gundy in a sentence without bad language.

You see, I received a call from their national no-service discount brokerage department: Your RRSP account has been transferred here, please call us. I was simply dumped by the actual full-service broker because they weren’t making enough money off me, and I wasn’t close to the $100,000 accounts they want to keep. They handled it very badly, and everyone from my advisor, to their PR department, couldn’t even be bothered to return my calls.

It turns out that it can happen to you, too. According to a story in Money Sense magazine, about 20% of clients are simply dumped each year. It is those of us who don’t buy and sell lots and who don’t have $100,000 – or even close. It also happened to a family member with the Royal Bank where he, too, was bounced out of the branch and into the no-service national discount brokerage.

But you’ll get a letter that says it’s actually great news and you’ll be “better serviced.” You’ll never get told it’s because you’re a lousy little client, because that breaches industry codes of ethics and could lose someone their professional designation. Yes, I’ll be pursuing a complaint with the ethics boards against CIBC and the broker. In the U.S. it’s worse as reports are coming out that some firms will kick you out if your portfolio is under $250,000.

Now to the rip-offs: The big no-service banks have all expressed their thanks and gratitude for the bailouts and cash-infusion us taxpayers gave them by increasing almost all their service charges and dragging their heals on the prime rate decrease the middle of October, passing on half of it for a while.

But their charges are getting insane. I had to re-order some cheques for an account I need to keep for another year or so. They charged me $27 for one pad of cheques! I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. Reason 426 to deal at a credit union where you never pay for cheque orders.

The second one was an attempted rip-off. I paid a credit card payment on-line and entered my transit number wrong. Well, two days later I got an e-mail that my payment had bounced and there was a $30 NSF charge. The odds of me bouncing a cheque, or paying a $30 service charge, are the same: They’re zero! It was a keypunch error and took two calls and 15 minutes to reverse. They just love to call everything NSF to be able add on that $30 when it costs the banks around 17 cents to process a reversal.

When these things happen to you, do not take it lying down. Make a couple of calls, challenge them and ask for what you want. YOU are the customer and getting service-charged to death is not something you have to accept. Or in the words of the captain on Hill Street Blues: Be careful out there.