It took nearly two years…
But my predictions about the craven behavior of my new bank have come true.
Almost two years ago, on December 22, 2009, my bank failed, was taken over by the FDIC and flogged to One West Bank.
My money was insured by the FDIC, but I was still gutted, because my old bank, First Federal of California, was a great place to do business. Great customer service, great response to queries, a good online platform, friendly faces in the branches that were run by managers who knew the communities well, and you could always get someone on the phone.
One West, on the other hand, was (is) a bunch of wealthy guys who bought IndyMac when it failed, and then started buying up banks in the Southland. I smelled a rat as soon as I made my first call to the new bank and found myself mired in voicemail purgatory. Good customer service, I predicted, was a thing of the past with this bank. So I voiced my concerns on this blog and on air. The bank’s PR people called and set up a meeting with the President, Terry Laughlin. I took him to lunch, where he swore blind that he would not let customer standards slip, not one inch.
But here we are. This week, I tried to access my bank records online. I used to be able to see every transaction for a year. Not any more. So I tried to call to ask why the change, and what I could do about it.
One West has upgraded its voicemail, from purgatory to hell. Firstly, no-one picks up. Ever. You have to input at least three pieces of data into the system, which for some reason does not pick up or recognize the number 1. Which means no-one picks up. HIt zero for a customer representative, and you have to wait. The first time I was told five minutes. 17 minutes later, I hung up in frustration. The second time I was told seven minutes. After ten, I left my number with the machine, which pledged I’d be called back. I wasn’t. The third time, I was told to expect a seven minute wait, and again waited more than double that time before hanging up. I tried to leave my number, but it has several 1s in it, and the machine, as I’ve said, apparently can’t recognize them.
In other words, this bank, which says it knows my time is important to me, has had me burn more than an hour of my time trying to speak to someone (ANYONE!) about an apparently random change to online procedure that is really extremely inconvenient. So much for the drivel spouted by Roy Almeda two years ago. He’s the branch manager who told me back then, and who was echoed by Laughin, that one of the reasons it bought First Federal was because it wanted to develop its retail banking footprint, and do business the way First Federal used to.
Clearly they haven’t lived up to either the spirit or the letter of that statement.
So what’s my next move? I’ll obviously be writing a letter. But I’ll also be looking for a new bank, I think. Union Bank has already pitched me, but I can’t help the feeling they’re a bit of a behemoth - will they give me the personal attention I value? What about a credit union?
And then there’s my disgust at One West. I’m thinking of starting onewestsucks.com. It is available - just $8.99 a year.