Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Bank Experience of Another Kind!

Since the below comments have been written a few developments have taken place:

  • we were informed that the account in question will remain the same as originally agreed upon in 1996 -- no fees and checks will be free as always.
  • at about the same time as posting these comments, an article appeared in our local paper about banking practices, some of which are highly questionable in terms of ethics as it applies to treatment of customers -- the "fee" thing!
  • an excellent article also appeared on the internet comparing banks to credit unions and services offered by each -- the clear winner is the credit union and it was noted that banks would like to see credit unions eliminated, if that were possible!

We have been customers of a well known bank in the Johnstown PA area for 34 years. Dealings from time to time with the local branch where we had opened our account in 1973 were quite positive. The manager was very friendly and if I wanted a loan it was always a pleasurable experience -- about all I had to do was tell him what I needed and he would always give me the loan without any hassle. But that was quite a few years ago when such experiences took place.

Along the way in spring of 1996 the bank offered a variety of accounts including a special one for persons aged 55 and older. Some of the features included free checks and for a 0 to 299.00 balance there was a $4 monthly fee, BUT a notation on the brochure said that fee did not apply to those accounts where pension and Social Security checks were deposited electronically. The words, "does not apply," were in bold print for emphasis. That is how we set up for our checks to be deposited.

Eventually the bank merged with another under some kind of an arrangement (merger, take-over, buy out or whatever) and the name was changed. But our 55 and over account remained the same. Our checks were free and there were no charges of any kind connected with our usage of the account. That is, until just recently when my wife discovered a $6 fee had been charged.

Jean was told that our account was being charged a $6 monthly fee because that type of account had always been charged that. Further, this had just come to some one's attention after all this time. Jean's protest and appeal on basis of original agreement fell mainly on deaf ears.

So then -- a certified letter to the CEO of the bank -- a phone call from a person in charge of all branch offices acknowledging receipt of the letter -- refusal on her part to recognize the original agreement -- her "offer" to switch us to a "free" checking account but we would then have to purchase the checks we would be using with the account!

Jean finally found the original brochure with all the details of the accounts offered at that time clearly spelled out. We paid a visit to the local branch manager who saw the details of our 55 and older account with her own eyes.

A copy was sent to the CEO and then another phone conversation with the person in charge of all branch offices who insisted that they had changed the account conditions a while back -- which was to say that what we had no longer applied as stated in the original agreement. However, she said she would review the brochure in question and would make a "decision." She was noticeably irritated when I raised the issue as to how a court would rule in regard to such an issue.

So we are awaiting the "decision" as to whether we will continue as we have during the past 11 years OR changes will be made so that we will be paying somehow whereas we never did before! I vote for the latter to be the case -- how about you?

But then it just dawned on me about a day ago that the reason we got into this situation of obvious conflict is that we and the bank people are operating on two different standards.

My wife and I function on the Biblical covenant principle while in the corporate business world that principle is not practiced except in some cases that are very rare exceptions. The rare exception is due to where the faith and commitment of the owners of a company are centered!

The Biblical covenant principle is simply an agreement into which two parties enter, each meeting certain conditions and the agreement is binding until both parties involved agree to change or terminate the agreement!

In the corporate world at large today agreements are made and then broken at will without so much as blinking an eye! The judicial system has seen large numbers of cases involving the breaking of agreements, some even class action in nature.

God's revelation gives a shocking prediction of human history as it comes down the home stretch of its existence. There will be three very deadly "loves" which will dominate the lives of the majority of humans -- love of self, love of money, and love of pleasure more than love of God. Many other characteristics will be prominent as well, including people commonly breaking agreements -- check it at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 in the New Testament.

How well are you doing at giving your word and then KEEPING it in agreements you have made in the past?


Wesley Matthews said...

Unfortunately, there isn't much loyalty any more or being concerned with previous agreements. It is all about profit.

It is a good thing there are other choices for our banking needs.

I have found credit unions to be more customer friendly, but they too have issues.

PA Maverick said...

Agreed -- I did not note in the comments that my wife and I are members of credit unions and one in particular which is getting more and more of our business. A loan recently taken out was the easiest I had ever obtained in my life and certainly beat all the hassle you run into with getting a loan at a bank!