Slim and Franke

Slim and Franke

Friday, November 16, 2007

THE PRICE OF MILK

I drifted into my first banking job in 1968 by accident. I had passed the test for Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith and was awaiting a call from them. They said I would hear in two weeks if a job became available. The bank called first and I started my job with them. A little over two weeks later Merrill Lynch called and I decided I should stay with the bank to honor my commitment. In those days it was called integrity. Today it would be called stupidity.

I worked my way through the ranks and developed a loyal customer following. After 32 years in banking I quit. A part of me believes I was the last honest banker.

Dealing with various banks now as a customer, I call myself a “banking civilian”. You do not know how horribly banks treat their customers until you become one.

We need to simply remember that banks are no different than grocery stores. They each price the products on their shelves and you, the consumer, need to pay their marked prices or go down the street to another store. If your store has a butcher who cuts the best selection of meat or a produce manager who can help you pick the best fruits and vegetables, follow that person if they leave the grocery store. However, the small, corner grocery is almost completely gone. The large commercial chains of grocery stores have taken their place.

We are old and remember a time the bank was a gathering place. You could go inside the bank, have a cup of coffee, visit with various bank employees and be treated like royalty. After all, the bank seemed to respect the fact that you trusted them with your dollars! You also trusted them with your most private personal and financial information. They appeared to be loyal to you and in turn, you were loyal to them.

This type of banking confuses the younger generation. The financial institutions are catering to a whole new group of fast paced technological kiddos who say loyalty-schmoyalty. Give me fast internet banking. Don’t expect me to balance my account. Charge me for overdrafts and I’ll pay the OD charges, regardless. They actually think the bank is saving them money because paying the overdraft means the store won’t get the returned check and charge a fee on top of the banks. (Check cashing stores have nothing on banks for charging exorbitant fees that represent huge annual percentage rate equivalents!)

You probably think that you are a wonderful bank customer because you balance your accounts, you keep savings in your bank, you borrow and make your payments on time and you pay off your credit card balances every month. Well look again. If you balance your account, you do not incur overdraft fees. Your savings causes the bank to pay you interest. You are a good credit risk so you can’t be charged the higher lending rates and if you pay your credit card off in full every month, you don’t pay any finance charges. Plus, they don’t have to pay much attention to you because you probably have direct deposits of social security or other pay and they know you won’t leave fast because it would be such a hassle to change all those payments..

Remember, when the milk prices are too high at your grocery store, you don’t stand in the aisle and yell, you go to another store. Believe me, if enough people move their banking relationships, the corporate headquarters of the financial institution will take notice.

Also, don’t yell at your clerks and tellers. They certainly don’t make the rules. Find a corporate officer and vent to that person. Also, remember the pen is mightier than the sword in banking. Put your concerns in writing and they can never deny hearing your complaint.

7 comments:

  1. More excellent advice! I didn't have to threaten mine with asking for the OCC. Turns out my memory was slightly wrong; I had signed a card (with BB&T) saying I would pay the fee for the box, but with a $15 discount, so we should have been billed $20, not $35. They will change it, they say.

    When I go inside the bank, I am greeted by name and waved to by at least one teller, who has known me for almost 20 years.

    I did change my SS direct deposits from this bank to my credit union account; it wasn't that hard to do. And you are right about them getting no fees out of me!

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  2. Well said...isn't a shame that being honest and prompt on payments etc. makes you the least desirable. It does all boil down to the mighty dollar.

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  3. It's interesting that we had this same discussion last night. A friend of ours is a retired banker and she agreed that there's a lack of friendliness these days. My banking is done by direct deposit and I use ATM's for cash so I rarely go inside altho' I bank with the Delta Credit Union and they've always been courteous and friendly. Hope that stays the same.

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  4. Anonymous6:12 PM

    thank you ann for expressing your passion for personal integrity and personal relationships with clients in banking. it is one of those things we will tell our kids about someday...like our grandparents told us.... it is all history.

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  5. Great post.
    At Second Helpings we have a ten week culinary job-training program. Not only do they learn industry skills, but we teach them a lot of getting-through-life skills.

    I think the most important thing we teach them is financial literacy. It always blows me away, but about every other class we have a student who has never been in a bank (of course, as you pointed out the next generation may never need to go in to a bank either).

    We have a great relationship with a local (yes, I said local) bank. The students actually have class in the bank five times during their job-training. They meet bank employees, tour the bank and open (free) checking accounts. The students get comfortable with the whole baking process. You should see the beaming faces when they get their checking accounts - a lot of our students live in shelters or are in work-release or have screwed up a bank account before.

    At our last graduation all of the students thanked "their banker" in their speech.

    How great is that?

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  6. Great advise...all in all, its just too bad that things are as they are now and getting worse..what happened to recognition of doing it the RIGHT way...integrity, honestly, RESPONSABILITY... NO..instead let's try to teach ppl how to get everything they want very quickly, by credit they can't afford..have brand new cars parked infront of brand new homes...in dept to above their necks...then lose it all if one of the cpl gets sick or something happens...I have seen it happen..so sad
    Yes, I realise that more ppl should be more carefull but the younger they are, the easier they are learning that banks want their credit business etc

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  7. Terrific post!
    I bet you truly were the last honest banker.
    You are also right about the tellers/clerks not being responsible for the bank's policies. I'm sure they get dumped on a lot by customers.

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