Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don't Get It

Okay. We have a bank account. This bank sold off some of its branches to another bank. Our checking account was sold to them as well. The new bank sent us new checks. New debit cards. Everything emblazened with the new bank's logo. We received a letter explaining that after such-and-such a date, the switch would be complete, that we would be doing business with the new bank, and would need to use our new checks and debit cards.

I drove to the new bank. Ironically, I had to drive past the bank where we have always done our business, open and still doing a lively business. (They also retain our home equity loan.) I drove out of my way to go into town, and made two laps around the block looking for a parking place. I went inside and waited my turn. "May I help you?" the very pleasant teller asked. "Yes," I said. "We need to close this account." Brusquely the teller asked the reason. I said, "Because we pick who we do business with." The teller acted as if I'd suddenly begun speaking in a foreign tongue. "What?!!!" she said. I said, "You may want our business, but my husband and I choose who we do business with, not vice versa. You might be a perfectly fine bank, but we did not choose to do business with you. We wish to withdraw our money and go back to our own bank."

She did not seem to understand my reasoning.

It's perfectly logical to us.

We again use the same bank we've always used, but I will never understand how a bank can simply come in, decide they want your account and buy it from your own bank. The fact that our bank sold us out without warning is not comforting either. How hard up for money are they?

Has this happened to anyone else?


A Novel Woman said...

I've never heard of this before! Our bank did transfer our (wonderful, competent, conscientious) business manager after umpteem years with us and saddled us with a seriously thick young thang who didn't even have the wits to return phone calls. We asked if we could transfer our accounts to the other branch with our former manager and they said sorry, nope. So we said "Hmm, guess we'll change banks."
Sorry? Nope.

Good for you. I would have done the same thing. And actually, now that I think on it a bit, I believe it may be illegal in Canada. That is, to make that kind of transfer without permission.

Alison said...

The only time I had to withdraw my money and move accounts was when I bought a new mattress.

Bill said...

We have had three banks sell our accounts to another bank - but all three of those banks went out of business, so I could not go back to them. We just rolled with it.

Bush Babe said...

Never EVER heard of such a thing!!! Outrageous... although in small towns we have bank branches closing all the time which means we either have to change banks or drive further to get to a branch. Like AN HOUR further.

Anonymous said...

I have just come in late on your house paint photos but had to say I love the effect. Just the right blue grey shade and the effect with the white is so smart. Thanks also for the invite - I hope I can take you up on that one day - if I live long enough!

About the bank account, I have never heard of a bank selling of accounts here in Australia. Like BB said, if they close a bank you just go further or use the internet and Post Office. Here for one bank to take over another they have to get government consent I think. I know there are controls over it. Better whisper it though - if there's a dollar in anything these days there semms to be someone ready to take it. Hope you are feeling well Deb. Love Barb

Caroline said...

Ha, ha Alison - love that new mattress. But no I have never heard of this either. I would send a 'nice' note to the manager of the new bank and tell them about their high qualified customer service staff as well.

Debby said...

Oh, Caroline, she was not rude at all. Her job, and I'm sure that she was 'coached' in how to handle customers like us, was to simply act as if nothing out of the ordinary had taken place (and any problems we had with the situation would therefore be unjustified and a sign that we had the problem). She could not give us any indication that we had a point. She needs a job like the rest of us.

Mrs. Spit said...

I had to go look in Canada's bank act and my own bank's legislation, and no, you can't sell someone's account to another bank. It's not allowed.

Just the process to transfer an account to another branch because you have closed that branches' transit is exhaustive. . .

Wow. I have to say I don't think I'd be very happy.

steviewren said...

I've never heard of that either. I have heard of one bank being bought out by another though...but the first bank has always gone out of business. Things are a-changin many businesses are just gone. Sad.

WhiteStone said...

In our entire state only one bank has gone south (out of business) in the past nine years. Guess where we bank. heh-heh. Never heard of a bank selling accounts, though.

We've stayed with the "new" old bank, but we've also established an account at a second bank. Eggs in two baskets.

In this crazy time, who knows what is happening in the business world. Crazy.

Daria said...

Very strange ... what are they going to do next?

Kelly said...

That's odd. I've often know of banks to sell out entirely (or merge with) to others, but never just SOME of their branches!

I don't blame you for what you did. Sounds reasonable to me.

jeanie said...

That IS bizarre - I have had banks merge, but never sell off bits and pieces to another bank.

Anonymous said...

I, too, haven’t heard of such a thing happening with AUS banks. However, if it did, you could bet your bottom dollar that your next bank statement would have three transaction fees:

1)A fee for the cost of selling and transferring your account to the new bank.

2)A fee for the cost of speaking to the teller of the new bank

3)A fee for the cost of transferring your account back to your original bank.

Of course, because none of these fees were the result of any fault or request by you –they (the fees) would be waived by the bank, once you have:

1)spend an ordinate amount of time on an auto-dialler (if you wish to speak to X, press‘1’; then ‘3’ then press ‘#’ then enter your account number, your date of birth, , your secret pass word, answer your secret security question, state the chemical composition of sodium nitrate, if all this is correct then say ‘yes’ (sorry, I didn’t get that –please say ‘yes’. ‘no’ or ‘repeat’ – now say your name –is your name … vdfsd afasd? …say it again…Were putting you through to a customer service representative, Please hold. Muzak….your call is important to us….Tijuana Taxi…..your call is important to us….The Eye of the Tiger….your call is important to us….99 Luft balloons….here are some services that our bank provides…your call is importa…Hello this is Alphie, how can I help you? You explain the situation, Alphie has to transfer you –he puts you on hold – more muzak and ‘your call is important’ messages – Justine answers –you have to explain the situation one more time. She transfers you to Margaret (You have to repeat why you have called) who transfers to Brian (and once more you have to explain your situation); Brian transfers you to the ether and your call is lost.

2)You decide to go into the bank. You wait for ages in the line. You finally get to see a teller. She tells you that she has to talk to the manager. She goes to see the manager (or more likely, the person who’s pretending to be the manager). You can see the teller and the ‘manager’ have a lively discussion- that last for about 20 minutes. The teller comes back and apologises on behave of the bank and says the fees will be waived.

When you get your next statement, you see that the fees have indeed been waived.

But once you factor in the time, effort, and money that you put into having them waived (time spend on phone, waiting in line, petrol money, parking money, etc) you find that you have spent more on getting the fees waived then if you had paid them….PLUS more fees have been added and deducted from your account.

Cheers DavidM

Scotty said...

Nope, but I admire your moxie, Debby. Take no prisoners...


Bob said...

Hey Debby, as a lawyer and banker I can tell you that this kind of thing happens from time to time and I have been involved in negotiating and helping carry out a number of deals like this. This probably happened because your bank decided that certain of its branches were not profitable and they needed an infusion of cash (could have been either or both of those things) and they were able to find another bank that thought they could make them profitable. Or, though it is less likely, sometimes regulators will tell banks they have to unload some of their branches. This usually happens when one bank acquires another and there is a branch fairly close to another one. There are regulations governing where a bank branch can be located, how close it is to another one, the average income of the area it serves, etc.

Accounts are part of the assets that are sold when a bank sells a branch or branches. When you opened your account, the particular branch where you opened it probably "owned" your account, even though you can transact business at any branch that is part of your bank.

I can tell you that that the buyer (your new bank, until you closed your account) figures a certain amount of attrition into the formula, i.e. they know that, of all the accounts they buy, they will lose a certain amount of them -- like yours. Of course they are going to do what they can to retain them.

The teller you talked to -- she was probably "sold" by your old bank to the new one. Yep, the purchase and sale includes employees which, in a transaction like this one, are a commodity. Unfortunately, for efficiency and "synergy" (a buzz word banks love to use) some employees lose their jobs.

Totally agree with your view that you choose with whom you will do business, not the other way around. Your new bank, and your old one, would probably tell you it's not personal, it's just business. And that's a crock, isn't it?

Redlefty said...


Like Bob I also work in the industry and yes, this happens all the time. He noted the top two reasons (cash shortage and Fed intervention).

There can also be quite a big difference between branch activity and profitability. Just because your original bank has hoppin' locations doesn't mean they're making money -- they could very well have had to sell a few branches just to stay open.

I'm glad that you had the option to return to your original bank since they're still open. There will be a lot more closures in the next couple of years and many customers won't have that option!