In the 70’s. while attending college in California, I was awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the Bank of America after I placed first in a debate in the field of science. That made me a BoA customer for life, or so I thought. In fact, I was a committed customer for years; first in Sacramento and in Santa Rosa, later in Scottsdale and most recently in Santa Cruz CA. But I’m no longer a BoA customer and here is the reason why!
I should have been clued in from BoA’s actions in the recent past:
- •The Department of Justice filed civil lawsuits against Bank of America for fraud involving $850 million in residential mortgage-backed securities. The BoA spokesmen said the mortgages were sold to “sophisticated investors who had access to the underlying data.” But Bank of America Corp reached a $16,650,000,000 settlement with U.S. regulators to settle charges that it misled investors into buying troubled mortgage-backed securities. That is $16.65 billion!
- •Bank of America paid $180 million to settle a lawsuit by private investors who accused the bank of manipulating foreign-exchange rates. Manipulating rates? That’s not what I want my bank to do.
- •Bank of America executives lied to its shareholders regarding the purchase of Merrill Lynch. Its stock dropped, and taxpayers padded the bank’s bailout funds with an extra $20 billion to cover the losses. The SEC settled its own charges against Bank of America over misleading shareholders on the takeover. Even though BoA paid $150 million, it refused to admit to any wrongdoing.
- •Merrill Lynch has been charged and paid fines for not properly supervising its representatives, and for failing to disclose conflicts of interest to its customers. Furthermore, Merrill Lynch participated in a “market timing” strategy, and sold its own products to clients when other investments might have been more suitable. They have also been sued for racial bias, gender bias and under-paying trainees
But even after all that, I didn’t move away from BoA. No, I waited until BoA’s actions impacted me directly, which they have…
- •The largest branch in Santa Cruz, CA no longer offers a merchant window. That means that businesses now have to wait longer to transact business.
- •I’ve gone into the branch when there is only one teller working on the teller line and over 12 people waiting for service.
- •Branch managers and bankers seem to rotate through the branch with greater frequency than burger flippers at a fast food restaurant. Apparently, BoA is having a hard time keeping quality employees.
- •I would receive phone calls periodically from my “new” account representative inquiring as to what additional products or services the bank could provide. Generally, I would tell the caller that I have all the services I want and that would put an end to the phone calls, until another “new” representative was assigned to my account.
I recently ran into a former BoA employee who confirmed that BoA has placed great pressure on its employees to sell more products and services to its customers. That fully explains why I experienced what I experienced!
- •Bank management sets goals for the branch staff for selling products and opening accounts on a per-day basis, no matter what day of the month it is (slow versus busy days). If that employee does not make the goal for the day the staff member is required to have a conference call with management, after the bank closes, to go over the day and explain why the goal was not met.
- •If the banker does not appear to be making their goal for the day, they must try to sell to someone who might be using the ATM machine, or else they stand behind the tellers to see if they can make a sale. The alternative is calling current customers to see if the banker can sell them anything more.
- •The bank’s goal is to add more accounts but cutting back on tellers to service these people.
- •When a teller sells a “product” while on the teller line that customer moves to the head of the line, even ahead of any other customer who might be sitting in the lobby waiting to be served by the banker.
And it is not only the BoA but its subsidiary; Merrill Lynch has put pressure on its representatives to push clients into the bank’s products and services. For those representatives who do not refer, the firm will deduct a percentage point from their long-term compensation. Merrill is also paying advisors on their referrals to other sectors of Bank of America, including the commercial and investment banking sectors.
Bank of America (BoA) is a banking and financial services corporation that is well-known to almost every American household. It is the second largest bank holding company in the United States and provides services and products through its vast branch system. That includes more than 5,000 bank branches, 16,000+ ATMs, as well as call centers, online and mobile banking platforms.
So, perhaps you can see why I fired the Bank of America after 44 years. Now perhaps others will as well.