Bank of America Is The Suck

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I always read about how Bank of America sucks this, and Bank of America sucks that, but never had experience the suck that is Bank of America first hand. I opened an account with them a year ago with my then-fiancée because they had a branch within walking distance of my house and because they have ATMs essentially everywhere. I looked past the Bank of America horror stories because, honestly, every company has its bad moments. Well, today I met a bad enough moment to make me can Bank of America and go with M&T Bank. (I opened up a personal and business account with them because a good friend of mine works in their new business development side)

No, they didn’t screw me out of $23049823049 in fees or otherwise hosed me by being unreasonable – they did something far worse because it wasn’t some technical glitch or some procedural hangup. They’re going to lose me as a customer because they were rude. When there are as many choices as there are in the world, you can’t even mess up like that. Sorry!

Today, I went to a Bank of America branch to make some check deposits. When I walked up to the counter with my checks, the first thing the teller asks me is if I had counted the amount. I responded “No” because I wanted them to double check my math, as they always do. The responded with a bit of a roll of her eye and then asked me if I filled out a deposit slip. Again I said no, deposit slips are useless anyway. When she counts them up, she’ll print out a slip that goes with the checks and the deposit slip is just a wasted branch on a tree we’d otherwise like to keep around. This is what has happened the other half dozen times I’ve gone in to deposit a bunch of checks (and didn’t want to you the mechanized paper-cut maker of an ATM they have), the teller simply adds them up for you and you’re on your way.

So she pulled out a deposit slip and told me to fill out my name and address on the slip (useless!). Then she put a calculator in my face and told me to add up the checks. All of this was pretty terse and borderline rude but I was content to let it go. As I added up the checks and showed her the calculator, she proceeds to read out the numbers really loudly over and over again. Is there no sense of privacy? I can understand her reading them back softly, but she was speaking more than normal indoor voice.

Okay fine, whatever, at this point the interaction hadn’t gone great but it was hardly worth closing an account over. Then she looks at my balance and tried to sell me on a certificate of deposit. I politely declined. She persisted by saying I was losing money by putting my money in a regular checking account. She’s right, but I still politely declined. Then she proceeded to start talking to the customer waiting behind me! No good bye, no thank you have a nice day, nothing.

That, Bank of America, was the proverbial straw. Keep that lousy $6 you got for giving me an interest rate of 1.0%, which is essentially paying an annual fee anyway, and keep your other worthless products. We’re outta here.

It’s amazing they didn’t make it out of the first round of the Consumerist 2007 Worst Company in America contest (Verizon was a formidable opponent), but you guys should lock up the first round in 2008 against a cupcake like Toys R Us.

Update: Some people have said that I’m being a baby, that I over-reacted, (one guy said he’d punch me) and I respect all of your opinions (maybe I am a baby, but there are plenty of banking options that are more polite) and thank you for sharing them. I actually wanted to touch on the topic of over-reaction. What’s “worse” of a reaction, closing my account or calling out that teller to their manager? If anything, asking to speak to the bank manager and telling them the teller was rude seems to be like a greater over-reaction than closing an account. Thoughts on that?

{ 101 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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101 Responses to “Bank of America Is The Suck”

  1. mapgirl says:

    Jim, why did you walk up to a teller? I usually just deposit at the ATM and get a slip of the OCR. It works really well and I’m not dealing with anyone except a slow a$$ ATM machine. But no rudeness there.

  2. Projoe1979 says:

    I’ve had a BoA account for over ten years now and always filled out a deposit slip… until recently. A month ago I had to get a new checking account due to the fact that I thought a check book was stolen (it wasn’t). They offered me FREE replacement checks after just purchasing for the old account to include my wife who had been recently added to the account. I asked to order an extra box of deposit slips and the person working w/ us told us not to and just put our debit card in with the signed checks and cash and they’d take care of it. So that’s how I do it now and haven’t had a problem yet.

  3. Lau says:

    Jim – not to turn the knife, but I think you have a sense of being owed that is a little upsetting.

    Yes, it is the teller’s job to count your money, and yes, it is her job to enter all your account info in the computer. But if you have ever worked in customer service, you know that you come face to face with interesting (to say the least) characters all day long. You might have just been the last straw for her on that day. And that’s why she just shoved the calculator in your face. My husband works for a certain copying place and comes home every night with a story about a customer (usually more than one, actually) who made some kind of outrageous demand and because they are the customer, he (my husband) should bend over backward for them, no matter what.

    Not to say that you’re demand was outrageous, but in all bank branches, the deposit slips are usually easily accessible, and I think there’s a reason for it. They are intended to make the tellers’ job faster and more efficient so you can be served in fast and efficient manner. If you didn’t have to do it, they would just remove them. All I’m saying is that, just because it is the teller’s job to do a lot of things, making their job a little easier would not kill you.

    Anyway, I do not want to start a big argument with you. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time now, and I still do! You should just relax a little :o) Make the teller’s job easier… and you never know, one of these when you need a favor, she would have been more than happy to help out.

  4. Chris says:

    Jim – I can’t see how your smugness is really resonating with your readers either. I agree with the above comments that you set the tone with not having a slip or counting the money. Not to mention one of the biggest factors that you are now holding up the line for EVERYONE ELSE. One of my all time pet peeves when I cannot make the transaction I want at the ATM is when people dont have their stuff together and have to fill stuff out at the window. I understand it is going to take up another 5 seconds but have some common courtesy here. Also your comment about its “their job to deal with me and I pay them to do it” is pretty ridiculous. I think that is a pretty poor outlook on life and I’m sure you carry that over to a lot of other situations in life. I normally really enjoy your blog (never posted until now) and I have followed a lot of your great advice to help my financial situations. Remember, it’s all about karma.

  5. jim says:

    @Lau, @Chris: I think that I was writing most of that post in the heat of the moment and probably got more worked up than I should have, since you both have read for a while you probably recognize that I’m not normally smug or have a sense of entitlement in anything else I’ve written. Then again, I also normally don’t have guys like Bill saying they’d punch me in the face, so perhaps it was an over-reaction in that respect.

    I just find it interesting that everyone puts the blame on me because I didn’t fill out a deposit slip, despite numerous comments to the fact that others don’t fill out deposit slips. Also, not filling out a deposit slips then makes it acceptable for the teller to treat me less than politely and then dismiss me after the transaction is over?

    I believe a lot of the meaning in a message is lost over the internet, this may be one of them.

  6. Chris says:

    No worries Jim. You certainly haven’t lost a devoted reader in myself. I think everyone agrees that the teller could have handled the situation better, but like I said above, you set the tone (likely unknowingly). I guess looking through all of the smoke here, I don’t see how 1 grumpy employee could cause you to transfer all of your accounts and the hassle that you went through. You could just as easily run into another unhappy employee at your new bank and I would be curious how you would handle that situation as far thinking about switching to another bank again. ATM’s are my favories tellers since you do not need to fill out a deposit form and it is a much quicker process. BoA is good for me since they have ATM’s everywhere and thats what I do 99.9% of my banking transactions in.

    Again, love reading your blog and keep up the good work!

  7. mv says:

    My financial institution of choice for the past, oh, 10, 12 years has been a Credit Union. I do not need to fill out a deposit slip when making an in-person deposit. I do not need a deposit slip when making an ATM deposit. I make ATM deposits at a bank, who has an agreement with my credit union. All the deposit envelops at the banks ATM indicate ‘no deposit slip required’. So, all you folks who are stuck on the deposit slip – have you never made an ATM deposit? Does it indicate on the envelope that you do not need a deposit slip?

    The deal here is with the rudeness when the transaction was over. I get the same treatment many times at the drugstore, or the grocery store or whatever. I finish my transaction, I’m putting my money or receipt away, and the employee has already moved on to the next customer – mind you, I’m still there at the counter gathering my items. This is hugely rude. I’ve never said anything & have just learned to live with it. This type of rudeness doesn’t just occur at the bank. It’s occuring in many, many places. In this situation, I think it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I can let the deposit slip situtaion go, but I agree with Jim when handed a calculator to count the money – what is the bank paying this person to do? If the customer has to do everything, why even hire tellers? Get rid of the position and have ATMs inside & outside.

    Another reason to snub big banks & go with the little Credit Union guy. Funny how these big banks really don’t care much for the customer. They have the highest fees for everything. For as long as I can, I’ll continue with my Credit Union.

  8. RCee says:

    I left BofA about 3 years ago, after they pissed me off several different ways, for a smaller regional bank and I have been extremely happy. BofA is an impersonal fee charging machine that is steamrolling through the industry. Nobody should have to put up with their lousy service. There are much better banks in your area.

    However, it is a well establish banking procedure to count your money and fill out a deposit slip before going to the teller. How hard is it to write down a few numbers? What if the teller makes a mistake? It’s your money, protect it. It’s also rude to the people behind you in line. Be prepared so the teller can process your transaction quickly. In a few years they’ll be gone and we’ll all be talking to a robot anyway.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Not worth the hassle to stay in my opinion. I say you close the account and speak to the manager and save others of the rude teller. It´s a customer service job, not a very skilled one and I´m sure there are plenty of others who can have her job and be polite.

  10. Mott says:

    I agree with everything you said Jim. She made you feel like a chump and no one likes that. At my credit union they have the same deposit slips, I’ve never filled one out and never been hassled. They are always talking with me and joking around, making my banking experience enjoyable. Your teller sounds just the opposite making you do her job and barking out the amounts!
    I would pull your money out, cancel the account and explain why to the manager.

  11. Tac says:

    I’ve never had a problem with Bank of America. I opened a Sovereign account in college (they had an ATM on my campus) and hands down THEY SUCKED. Bank America has always been problem free for me- plus you can’t beat their Museums on Us! Free museum admissions program 😉

  12. I signed up with BOA in order to get $100 check opening bonus. The problem was that they never gave me an account routing number, they just sent me my account number. This was an issue for me, because I had to initiate a direct deposit into the BOA checking account. Even worse they never sent me any checks. They only sent me a debit card (although a DC is convenient, I still have to pay certain items like rent with a check).
    So I had to call them, and ask whether I will be getting checks or not. The rep was very polite and they informed me that checks were $30 to order. I never ordered checks and just asked for the routing number in order to initiate direct deposits from my company and avoid being charged a $6 monthly fee.
    Overall I would have never opened a checking account with BOa, provided that there are so many banks that give free checking and a higer interest rate. HAd there not been the $100 opening bonus, i owuld not have gone to BOA.!

  13. Overreaction, he**! I’ve walked for a heckuva lot lesser offenses than that. BoA richly deserves to lose your business!

    Not only that, but in the course of closing your accounts, you should write a letter–yes, on paper!–to the manager explaining why you’re leaving, send it by snail-mail, and send a copy to the customer relations department at the bank’s headquarters. Actually, you get more attention when you send it to stockholder relations–they’re the only ones who care about how a corporation is treating its customers.

    As for whether not filling out a deposit slip places some intolerable burden on the teller…say what? Handwritten deposit slip or not, she has to type the numbers into a computer and print out a receipt, add up the total, and print out a receipt. Reading the figures off the checks is no more of a strain on the poor darlin’ than reading them off a deposit slip.

    If you can’t deal with the public politely behaving like a witch with a capital B when faced with a minor inconvenience or eccentricity, then you should not be in a job that asks you to deal with the public.

    If the tellers’ manager is not standing within earshot or is too stupid to understand this factoid and its implications for her bank’s profits, then she needs to be told what happened and why you’re leaving his precincts.

  14. Ed says:

    I don’t put my carts back in the cart corral at grocery stores either. They have cart pushers to do that. That is their job.

    I had a gentleman refuse to fill out a form to get a better price on his purchase, just because he had to fill out the form! No cost, no fee, no extra “marketing” information, nothing. He went on a rant how he know the CEO of the company and how he is going to call him and let him know he has lost confidence in the company.

    I think some people just like to complain.

    P.S. I thought the teller was rude too.

  15. Tim says:

    it sounds more like you were picking the fight from the start and were the cause of the situation. the situation was completely avoidable, but you chose to act frankly like an ass. it doesn’t matter if i’m a bank or someone else accepting your money. you should be the one who commits into writing what transaction you intend to make. as with any other transaction, having something written is golden as it prevents any misunderstandings. the deposit slip is you saying that you want to deposit x amount of money into your account. the bank verifies the amt that you intended to deposit is what you presented. they then print out a verification of that transaction. not giving them a deposit slip is the same thing as them not giving you a receipt. seriously, if the bank teller said that she wasn’t giving you a receipt of your deposit because you know how much you deposited, that would undoubtedly piss you off. so what reaction should the bank teller have when the tables are turned and the person (you) are being confrontational from the start?

    now, don’t get me wrong, i dislike bank of america, because they wouldn’t give my my $250 promo even though I met all the requirements. i have one more cd with them, and when it matures i will transfer to my other bank. i’ve already moved everything from them to my other bank. instead of seeing what they could do to retain my $50k in deposits, they simply let me go without a single word. I even told them that I was withdrawing all my deposits to include liquidating my bank of america stocks. This didn’t phase the manager one bit, and was obviously not worth enough for them to make some sort of amends to retain my business.

    your situation was all your doing. you should actually apologize to the teller for being an ass, because that is what you were. sorry, had to be said.

  16. Sky Writer says:

    I love BofA. I opened a 4-month CD in November and right around the time it matured, I found a Co-op in NYC that I wanted to buy. None of the competitive online mortgage companies (Ditect, e-Loan, etc) deal with Co-ops, so I called BofA (have been a customer since ’97 – my account has traveled with me from St. Louis to Atlanta and now NYC). The application process was fast, easy and the counselors have been amazing. Then, when I forgot to transfer my CD funds to my checking account for the down payment, the CD rep found an elegant, no-fee solution. (And she handled my panic/over-reaction with the ultimate professionalism.)

  17. Jonathan says:

    You are acting pretty infantile… why not use an ATM? Their ATM deposit process is excellent. I have interacted with a teller maybe 4 times in two years to get cashier’s checks. Also, speaking with the teller’s supervisor privately and quietly would have been more effective.

  18. microbreak says:

    There are many reasons why a teller requests you fill out a deposit ticket yourself:

    – If there is a line, this reduces the time it takes to complete a transaction because the ticket is filled out in line instead of at the beginning of each transaction.

    – It helps reduce the chance of error if your name, account number, dollar amounts, and signature are on the check. If you write it, the teller reviews it, then processes it…there are two people that actively reviewed the transaction before sending off to be processed. Had the teller written everything in themself, there could likely be an error since they most likely know you less than you know yourself.

    – Reduces the chance that they can be blamed for screwing up a transaction. If you write that you want $100 back and $200 in the account, but actually wanted the reverse…you can only blame yourself for the mistake because the teller followed your orders.

    – Reduces the chance to allow a dishonest teller from ripping you off. If you deposit a check and want no cash back but do not completely fill out the ticket nor line out the line for cash back, you run the risk of a person filling in the blanks and taking money from your account. If you fill all this in, you reduce your risk from having this happen to you.

    – Not that you are a criminal in any way, but another reason banks want you to fill out the slip is to get fingerprints and handwriting on something in case you decide to rob them.

    With all that in mind, I don’t think it is THAT big of a deal for a teller to fill out some of their customers’ tickets some of the time. If that is the reason a customer keeps their account with a bank, it is a very cheap benefit to accommodate to keep the customer.

    In regards to the update on this article, I believe the most appropriate action would be to fill out the customer survey cards in the branch, or to call their 800 number and share your experience. It is just as effective, gets more notice (the branch manager, the district manager, and the regional manager will see this interaction on a monthly report), and is less confrontational.

  19. James says:

    If I have to say so myself, it’s a part bad customer and a part bad employee thing. Jim, even from your own statements, you’re not exactly exonerated or off the hook!

    Let’s start with you. First, it looks like you did not follow the standard bank procedures and expected things to be done automatically on a teller line.

    Environmental concerns are not exactly a legit excuse if the service revolves entirely around the paper in concern. And furthermore, you sound like you’re expecting a level of service given by a good private bank or otherwise a completely full service bank. Bank of America, isn’t one of them.

    Now, I’m not sure what you’re saying when you say “double check my math” even though you didn’t check the initial amount of the checks yourself. So… double check what math? One that’s in your imagination? Come on! Even to me, that’s pushing it!

    I’m sure the teller would’ve been more than happy to verify the sum after you filled out an initial deposit slip.

    On the other hand, the bank teller was not a complete professional either. She could’ve discreetly handed over a deposit slip and a calculator, ask you quietly to fill it out and come back as soon as you’re done.

    And reading out the numbers out loud for all to hear? Sound the buzzer!

    At least you found an excuse to leave Bank of America…

  20. Mike Sullivan says:

    “…just a wasted branch on a tree we’d otherwise like to keep around…”

    Are you so naive as to think that there is a shortage of trees? Trees for paper-making are not endangered species — they are grown as crops. By using a piece of paper, you are in effect placing an order for a tree to be planted.

    If you love trees, and want more of them, use more paper. Trees for paper-making are grown by the billions as industrial crops, just like corn, wheat, beans and any other commodity. We are in no danger of running out of trees. The more paper you use, the more trees get planted. We have more acres of growing forest under management today than at any time in our nation’s history, dating back to pre-settlement days, thanks to our demand for wood and paper products.

  21. Justaguy says:

    So, they lost your business, huh?

    Too bad.

    *Your* smug i-am-entitled-to-everything attitude is going to lose you a lot of readers.

  22. D. Johnson says:

    Due to a 4.00 unexpected charge, thus far BOA has collected 600.00..400.00 less than my inheritance after her death. When I called, even though it was the only charge ever bounced, they had no other soolution. They will be losing my business as soon as the mess is straightened out

  23. CuriousPoster says:

    “Justaguy responds:
    Posted: April 20th, 2008 at 1:26 pm
    So, they lost your business, huh?

    Too bad.

    *Your* smug i-am-entitled-to-everything attitude is going to lose you a lot of readers.”

    Entitled to everything? When was he claiming to be entitled to everything? The only thing he should be entitled to is the same common courtesy and respect as everyone else that is a customer at that bank. If anyone is being smug here, it is you. You don’t seem to have much empathy for how others are treated. How would you feel if you were treated like that? I guess you’re probably one of those types of employees that the blogger is talking about.

  24. Mary says:

    I think you were being ridicule-worthy about the deposit slip, but not the sales pitch. If I want that crap, I’d go shop in Best Buy. I’ve done all of my banking with a small local outfit for 10 years, and couldn’t be happier – and have never had a deposit transaction without a slip.

  25. jim says:

    @Mary: I had no problem with the sales pitch, I recognize that they have to do that as a part of their job.

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