I find online that I have a service fee from my bank:Clicking ‘more info’ I find out that there was only one fee and the total is correct:How comforting. This will be the sixth time this year and second month in a row I’ve had to go in to discuss “service fees” with them. The bank shall remain nameless — let’s just call them “Walk All Over Ya“. Our discussion today yields:

  1. An end consumer cannot find out what a service fee is for without contacting their branch or support.
  2. I was told something that wasn’t true when I transferred some money to an investment account, thus invoking the wrath of the service gods upon my account when I didn’t reach some obscure — but not insignificant — minimum.
  3. The rules for my minimums were changed at some point, likely communicated to me in 6-point font in a 30-page tri-fold “addendum to your account.”
  4. Service fees are charged when no service was actually done (I don’t consider an automated computer triggering a charge to my account as service). There is apparently no charge for when I actually get service (talking 45 minutes to a real person).
  5. When discussing fees in the past, no one bothered to tell me about a different account that would have extinguished the problem altogether.
  6. The local branch manager cannot even access the information about my business account, and it took three phone calls and 42 minutes for her to find out why I was even being charged.

Here are my conclusions. Consider if this is what WAOY bank would like me to take away and spread to others via a blog entry:

  1. The bank is not interested in me knowing the details and options available to me. They will tell me if I ask.
  2. A customer service rep (in this case the “branch manager”) who cannot find basic details that should be clearly marked to the end consumer is relegated to saying “I’m sorry.” and “we’ll get this settled, just don’t you worry” a lot.
  3. There are either a lot of people who don’t mind paying “service fees” to have an account or there is a lot of money tied up in banks for the sole purpose of keeping accounts open (doesn’t feel like my money in that case). Another option is the realization that the time it took to get this settled wasn’t worth my hourly rate. Perhaps I’m better off (financially) just ignoring it, and somehow I think they are banking (pun intended) on this.
  4. The bank is not very interested in keeping me as a customer (I was told very clearly there would be no penalty for closing my account), but every flyer and poster in the building offered me incentives to refer a friend to their fine institution. Evidently I have a reason to tell others but not to stay a customer myself.
  5. The entire time I was talking with “customer service” to overturn my “service fee” (the irony to that is hard to miss), all I could think about was how much I can’t wait to transfer my banking to another institution. Somehow this seems like a bad business practice to me.
  6. The branch manager made a huge point of telling another customer she had to finish with me first, but when the attending underling bothered her a third time, she closed the other customer’s business right in front of me whilst on hold with her “internal customer service.”

It will take more than a little pain for me to change my automated payments away from this institution, but as a consumer, I see little option and have every desire to make a statement (another pun intended) in the only way I know how — with my business.

Make information available to your customers. Give them value for any charges you invoke on them.

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