Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Honest Offer? Don't Bank on It

I like my bank. Historically, they've been very nice to me. In our 4+ year relationship, they've treated me much better than a bank where I held an account for nearly five times that long. But there have been lots of changes in the past year.

First, all of the people who were there when I opened my account, from management to tellers, are now gone. The new people are all nice, mind you, but the degree of familiarity that I learned to like so well, is gone, too.

Second, what used to be customer service type over-the-phone surveys have been replaced by semi-aggressive sales calls. Home equity lines of credit. Open a savings account. Yada, yada, yada. Annoying. I politely say, "No thank you" and hang up.

But the thing that really made me angry was a credit card that arrived at This D*mn House last week.

OK, technically, I applied for it. But … I was told that I wasn't applying for it.

To explain: I was using the ATM when some clipboard-toting young'uns struck up a conversation, asking me if I had one of the bank's credit cards. I do not. Well, why not apply for one and get this … and they went on tell me about a 0 percent balance transfer. Well, that interested me. (I am in the process of paying off a card that just arbitrarily jacked up my rate at the beginning of the year. Ideally, I'd like to put the remaining balance somewhere with a lower interest rate than it has now. Which is virtually anywhere. But zero, 0 percent, is best of all.)

I asked if they had literature so I could see the terms. They didn't have any. But put your information right here and someone will get back to you who can fill you in on everything. Said I: "I don't want to apply for one -- I just want information to decide whether to apply or not." Says kid: "Oh, you're not. Someone will contact you and answer all your questions."

So I filled it out. I wasn't applying for anything after all. Uh-huh. And that's why the credit card arrived in my mailbox last week.

LIAR! No mention of 0 percent balance transfer, and an insulting interest rate to boot. (Especially considering that I got an unsolicited offer in yesterday's mail for a different card with a rate for half as much -- and a fixed rate at that.)

So today, I marched into the bank with the credit card and visited with "Amanda." A petite, perky brunette, with a blindingly white smile, Amanda was eager to help me. She did some typing and then looked up at me and said, "But you applied for this." I reiterated that, while technically that was true, I had been lied to.

"Oh no," says Miss Perky. "I'm sorry. Clearly, there was some kind of miscommunication." Well, I have to disagree there, Miss Perky. Let's consult Webster.

Miscommunication would have been if I had just blindly filled it out. But, I did in fact, very clearly state, I don't want to apply on no less than four occasions during my conversation with the lying kid. And, he did in fact, respond that I wasn't applying. So, I fail to see the miscommunication. It was, quite plainly, a lie.

The never-activated account has been closed and the card shredded, yet it's left a bad taste in my mouth. If these are the kind of tactics employed to get business, should I really trust them with my money? I'm sad to say it's made me wonder.

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