Like most Americans, I was swept up in the financial turmoil of the past year. Aside from slicing my income to ribbons, one of the major ways it affected my life is in forcing me to switch banks from Washington Mutual to Chase. This was a particularly bitter piece of irony, since I had been with Chase for 10 years, and had fled to WaMu in 2007 to get away from the institution's vile, chilly, lying ways. (That's right. I knew banks lied long before the crash.) Now, here I am back at nasty old Chase.
The change has laid in stark terms the differences between the way the two banks serve their customers. Now, I know I ought to have no affection for WaMu, given the reckless way thye ran themselves, and a part of the economy, into the ground, playing fast and loose with the sub-prime mortgage game. But I'm just a working Joe. I experience WaMu the way most mugs do: at the bank branches, through one-on-ones with the tellers and other low-level bank grunts. And, on that basic level, WaMu had it all over Chase.
*WaMu had a weird round robin set-up of teller desks, corny in its way, but it allowed you to stand very close to the teller and have a more personal exchange with them. It was almost human.
*Chase tellers sit behind a thick plate of plexiglass.
*WaMu workers were evidently drilled by the company in matters of customer relations. They were always even-tempered, positive and made a genuine effort to seem warm and approachable.
*Every Chase teller I have ever encountered has had a frowning countenance and a demeanor so chilly as to invite frostbite. They seem to either hate their job, hate you or both. That they couldn't give a fuck whether they've given you good service is evident in their every move.
*WaMu workers always seemed anxious when the line for tellers got too long and often opened up new posts to relieve the back-up.
*Chase workers never glance at the line no matter how long the line gets. Often three people will hover around one teller station trying to work out a single transaction.
*WaMu, after initially checking the sources of checks, would make all the money from checks available upon deposit. With very large checks, there was sometimes a delay, but once, when I asked that a sizable check be made completely available the day I deposited it, the teller did so, overriding the old on the check. He did it because he knew me as a customer, no other reason.
*Chase still makes up bullshit excuses to give you just $100 or a portion of a check today, and the rest available the next day or later. When asked to explain, they never provide a cogent reason.
*WaMu had a form with which you could simultaneously make a withdraw and receive an official bank check.
*Chase makes you fill out two forms to accomplish the same act, as well as making you fill out your entire address every
time you make a deposit or withdrawal.
*WaMu did not charge a fee for a bank check.
*Chase charges $10 for a bank check.
*WaMu branches sometimes devoted a section of the bank to kids, provided toys and such.
*Chase doesn't give a damn about kids.
*Chase is purposefully polluted the City with branches.
*WaMu's signs were ugly, too. But at least they're all gone now.