Bank of Fucking America

Here is a quick example of why customer surveys don’t work, and why I should not be allowed to complete them after taking heroic doses of allergy medication.

Okay, I have been a Bank of America customer since 1995, which is when I got my first paycheck at my first real job in Seattle, and went to their branch down in Pioneer Square and opened an account.  They had a special deal where you got an absolutely free checking account, as long as you promised to never talk to a human.  You could use the ATMs and the phone robot thing all you wanted, and it was all free.  This is good, because I generally don’t like talking to humans, and I like free.

Years later, I move to New York, and they don’t have BoA; the cheapest checking account I could find involved keeping a ton of money in the account and not collecting interest and still paying 20 or 30 bucks a month.  And BoA wasn’t out there yet.  But I kept the account, and resigned to paying a few bucks every time I used an ATM.  I later found that the ATMs in Loew’s movie theaters were somehow bizarro BoA ATMs and didn’t charge fees, so I would go to the movie theater every time I needed cash.  Also, every place I vacationed had Bank of America, so my card worked for free when I needed it most.

Later, BoA bought Fleet (the bank, not the enema manufacturer) and I could bank for free on the east coast.  Then I moved to Denver, LA, and SF, all of which are BoA country.  Over the course of the next decade and a half, they didn’t charge me a dime and I never talked to a human, but I estimate I pushed roughly a million dollars through this interest-free checking account, and as that money briefly sat in their institution between my payday and when I blew the cash, they probably made a few bucks off of me.

(An aside: people talk about stuff like cell phones and internet when the category of “stuff that absolutely changed 100% and we never expected it, like we expected that god damned jet pack we never got”.  But people overlook ATM networking proliferation.  When I was a child in the late 70s/early 80s, local banks had their own one-off technology.  Like we had St. Joseph bank and it had “Josephine” machines, but that card was entirely useless outside of the dozen or two Josephine machines in northern Indiana.  When I left for college, I had a checking account at a Banc One in Elkhart; when I went to the Banc One in Bloomington, I found that the two were completely unconnected, and I could not, say, have my parents deposit a check at the Elkhart branch and withdraw cash from the branch 250 miles away.  I don’t think I got an ATM card until I was in college at the IU credit union in South Bend, which had one single branch on campus.  But it did have a then-revolutionary connection to the Cirrus network, so if campus was closed and I drove around long enough, I could find the right gas station that would give me access.  Now, a debit card can be used at virtually any ATM in the US and some abroad (I think) and aside from the ridiculous fees and surcharges, it’s entirely seamless to the consumer.  If you told me this in 1991, I would have told you that you were totally fucking high, just like if your grandfather in 1947 was shown a cell phone or a Slayer album.)

So, of course, they get greedy, and the free checking story ends there.  They frame a “you WILL pay us every month” mandate with a “Hey! You can go green and save the earth by using our nifty iPhone app!” with the fine print of “oh yeah, you will now pay us every month, and get nickel and dimed on paper statements and whatever else we can think of.”  And there was all that nasty business about predatory lending and foreclosing on peoples’ houses when they never had a BoA loan, and so on.  So I decided to cut the cord.  I dumped all of my cash to another account, called, got put on hold 19 times, and then got someone to shut it all down and offer to cut me a check for my last $1.60.  Fine.  Done.

No.  I get a statement a month later.  They never cut me a check, and they charged me a $20 fee, so the account is now -$18.40 and I’m sure they will start assessing me a $39.75 per hour overdraft charge, so I call to unleash the fucking fury.

I end up in phone tree hell.  My account number and password don’t let me log in anymore, but after an eternity on hold, I talk to a level 1 idiot who can’t do anything and bounces me to someone who handles already-closed accounts.  They say they can’t handle this because my account is still active.  They bounce me to someone who says they can’t handle it because the account is closed.  They try to bounce me back to person #2 and the call hangs up and I have to start at the beginning again.  This happens a couple of times before I find someone that explains that because it’s a Washington account, there was some glitch closing it, so she offers to waive the $20 fee.  She then says she’ll close the account and cut me a check for $21.60 and we’ll be all done.

I say “WTF, don’t you mean $1.60?”  And she says, “oh, right, $1.60, have a nice day.”

This of course opens up the nightmare that in a month, I’ll get a check for $21.60, and in three months, get a statement saying “we fucked up, you owe us $20 plus $9723546 in overdraft fees and your account is still open, good luck talking to 19 more people, fucko.”

A few weeks later, I get a check from Bank of America.  I open it, look at it, and then… I don’t remember, I was in a hurry or something, but it registered that they sent me a check for $21.60, and I was upset but had 19 other things to do and I’m taking 16 different allergy and antibiotic medications right now, so I pushed it to slot #87 on the “deal with this later” queue.  Last Friday night, I had a vague lucid dream that involved being pissed about this.  Then I woke up and there was one of those “please take a survey about your recent customer service experience with Bank of America.  Please let one of the questions be fill-in-the-blank, I thought.

I went to the stupid URL.  “On a scale of 1 to 10….” 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1, without reading a god damned thing.  And then gold.  A blank.  “Please tell us what we could do to correct this issue.  So, I wrote:

You could put all of your executives on a war crimes tribunal, and when they are found guilty of crimes against humanity, they could be tied down to a table in the middle of a stadium and have a cauterizing laser start at their feet and every 60 seconds, make a pass and cut off a millimeter of their body, re-sealing the wounds, leaving them alive in anticipation of the laser slowly removing their genitals and internal organs while they watch in horror, sixty thousand people cheering in the stands.  Then, every customer would be able to go to their local branch, and throw one molotov cocktail through the front window, until every Bank of America is burned to the ground.  Lastly, you would hire Dan Savage to create some alternate sexual meaning to the term “Bank of America” and get everyone to virally link to it, ala Santorum, so future generations who wonder what a “Bank of America” is will find that it refers to drilling a hole in your skull, putting peanut butter in it, and having a wild dog skullfuck you.

I did not get a reply.

Then, I went to get the stupid check, to figure out who I needed to go to war with to get this straightened out.   The check was really for $1.60, and there was a note inside saying my account was closed.

 

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  • Christian Alexander

    This is completely fucking awesome. Thank you.

  • motel todd

    I ended up owing Bank One – long since out of business at least in Texas – around $400 in back fees in the early 90s during my breif marriage – it took six months to pay back. Banks are a bitch, man.

  • L Swastikkko

    FWIW, in 1999 I used my ATM card in both Dublin and Belfast (they have, or at least had, different currencies).