Bank of “Arrogance” and the Privacy Crisis
by Grant Hall
Whose money is it anyway?
Why do Americans have to jump through hoops and provide every conceivable piece of personal information known to computers to pseudo government agents, a.k.a. “bankers” in order to store their currency? Why is a prospective customer met with an “army” of resistance whenever telephone inquiries are made about the once simple procedure of opening a non-interest bearing checking account? And, why does it take three to five employees of a bank and thirty to sixty minutes to gain the information that was once accomplished through a three minute conversation with an entry level banking clerk?
Recent numbers of U.S. banks on the F.D.I.C. watch list increased to 117 in the second quarter of 2008 from 90 in the first quarter of 2008 (Ellis and Luhby, 2008) and in spite of the catastrophe looming, banks and bankers have not made efforts to boost customer satisfaction through better customer service in the opinion of this author and according to this author’s small-sample, empirical study conducted in August 2008.
The author spoke to twelve “bankers,” employed at various regional, money center and local banks and spent an average of thirty-seven minutes on each call during the month of August, 2008. An additional six banks were contacted that did not answer their telephones and these calls were routed to voice mail. Messages were not left for return calls by the author and this study is based on the twelve banks and “bankers” who were available for telephone calls during business hours in August, 2008.
Study results revealed that no first responders (clerks, tellers, assistant managers) could answer all questions asked by the author relating to opening a non-interest bearing checking account for a Trust of which the signer would be the Trustee. Note: Trust accounts are considered “personal” accounts by bankers according to the author’s experience.
Once supervisors or bank managers came to the telephone, the conversation continued with questions necessarily repeated from first responder contacts. Three of the twelve were able to answer all questions concerning the opening of the aforementioned “personal” bank account. A third telephone contact was necessary in six of the twelve telephone contacts. Three of the twelve contacts required a fourth or fifth person or advised having someone call the author back.
Based on the study results, it is clear that service has deteriorated to an unacceptable level at banks And, since banks neither know their business (requirements for opening a basic account) and do not offer acceptable customer service-based on this author’s study and his conclusions-an interpretation in part based on his opinion, why should anyone use them for storing their money?
All twelve banks mentioned said “no” when asked if they would cash a customer’s check if he/she did not have an account with the bank.
The conclusion is therefore drawn from this August, 2008 study that banks are not in the business of providing acceptable and good customer service. This is the opinion of this very experienced author and is based on this study and other studies. Further, employees who field questions by telephone (clerical, assistant mangers) –from numbers one to three who speak to prospective customers-do not know requirements for a basic “trust” checking account. This conclusion and the fact that bankers-executive and management do not know the source of their funds and cannot define the Federal Reserve Bank (Hall, 2006) may cause many customers to hesitate about opening a bank account for personal use.
As the author has explained in Privacy Crisis, there are other options besides commercial banks for storing cash.
Check cashing stores combined with the use of an anonymous safe deposit box will enable the privacy advocate to keep money anonymous-without the probems associated with banks and bankers. A useful resource for an anonymous safe deposit box is 24-7 Private Vaults and their web site is www.24-7PrivateVaults.com
Ellis, David and Luhby, Tami, 2008, Problem Bank List Keeps Growing, www.CNNMoney.com
Hall, Grant, Privacy Crisis: Identity Theft Prevention Plan and Guide to Anonymous Living, eBook, available at: www.PrivacyCrisis.com 2006, James Clark King, LLC
Copyright: James Clark King, LLC, September 8, 2008