I am a Bank of America customer, and I have been for 8 years. Before that, I have been a customer of Barnett Bank of Florida – another bank which I did not dislike. For a time I was a customer of Washington Mutual when we lived on the West Coast. Wells Fargo for mortgages (twice). No complaints on either of these companies. But for the last 2 years, all primary personal “traditional” banking services have been provided by Bank of America.
Marketers have a lot of opinions on what makes you select a bank, I kind of fell into the relationship. First came a credit card from Fleet Bank in Boston. At the time, it was one of the top rated Platinum MasterCard’s in the industry. Bank of America (BOA) bought Fleet and did not change credit terms, interest rate or add a fee.
So it began.
A move required a change in banks. I picked BOA solely based on the fact that they had a good online banking product. While the branches were not convenient for me, there were a couple close to my husband’s office. Their online banking linked all of my accounts without me having to enter them myself. Funds could be easily transferred between accounts and the bill pay was free of charge. Since then, the site continues to upgrade and add new features that make it even more user friendly. The coolest upgrade they have is a check deposit at the ATM, where you just scan the check and your receipt has a copy of the check on it. Whoop! It gives you confidence that there is will be no missed dollars when you have a picture!
But the site and the ATM deposit are not the reasons why I stay. I stay because when, and if, I have an issue, there is always someone to call. And if the answer you get doesn’t sound right, there is always someone else to call. Here’s an example:
Over a year ago we decided to downsize. Our big house sold before we had a new place to move to, meaning we needed to deposit the equity dollars. I took the mid-six figure check to the local branch where the teller guided me to an assistant manager who took me through the steps. We opened new accounts, changed my account status, received all kinds of literature, his card and cell number. I left happy.
When it was time to move into our new home, we made a decision not to pay cash. I wanted to put a mortgage on the new place to have a third party appraiser establish the value. To do that these days you need to get a pre-approval. While I have had my mortgages at Wells Fargo for many years, I wanted to be a good BOA customer. I go online and go through the steps to get pre-approved. The system response gave me an 800 number to call for they could not approve me. A nice young man at the local office who took me through the steps and informed me that we could not get a mortgage because we did not have a recurring fixed monthly payment. I was stunned. We did have a history of a fixed monthly payment in a recent mortgage – we had rent payments on temporary housing. I asked to be referred to a supervisors and he politely informed me that the supervisor had already reviewed our information and we did not qualify he hung up. I was still stunned, more than a little miffed – wondering if we do not qualify for a loan, who does?
Continuing on the path of loan-discovery, I had the name and number of my friendly local branch person. So I sent him an email and he called within the hour. Clearly he understood my issue and I could hear in his voice that he was not sure he could fix it, but he knew who to call. Within an hour he called me back with a member of the mortgage center based in Texas on the line. I had my pre-approval in my hand by the end of business that day. Now there were issues along the way (it was a mortgage after all) but nothing that we couldn’t fix by making a call.
I do not hate Bank of America. They give me the tools to do as much as I can for myself and then give me access to people who can make it happen for me. Win-win. Maybe one day, I will not have not make that second call.