Readers of this blog will know that, from time to time, I have railed against the loathsome character and practices of my monolithic bank, Chase, which I left years ago for Washington Mutual, only to be dragged back in after WaMu's collapse.
"Well, why do you stay with the damn bank?" asks the frustrated reader. Why, indeed? Apathy, mainly. Because changing banks is an enormous hassle. Because I suspect every other bank treats its customers just as badly.
But all those reason evaporated with last week's snowstorm. Last week was my last week with Chase.
I am a free-lancer. I live by the check and I never know when exactly they're coming in. So it's important I have access to my bank account for as many working hours on as many days as possible. I knew that, last Friday, a few checks I had written would be placed against my checking account and the funds demanded. This was all right by me. I had a sizable payment for a recent assignment in hand, and happily strolled to the local Chase branch to deposit it, and thus cover the checks. The snow fell around me, but life went on. The deli was open. The pizzeria and grocery, too.
But not Chase. On a Friday, the day most people get paid, the day went people across the City deal with paychecks and visits to their local bank, Chase had closed. The bank had taken a snow day!
The snow was heavy, but it wasn't that bad. Any business that wanted to open, could have. But Chase didn't. Apparently not one of its lazy-ass, glassy-eyed employees were able to brave the trip into the branch. I thought perhaps this was an anomaly. I trudged through the snow to another Chase branch several blocks away. It, too, was closed! There was absolutely no excuse for this closure, because the branch was on a major thoroughfare, easily accessible by car, bus and foot.
So I was not able to deposit my check. I went home.
Next day, I checked my account online. Sure enough, the three checks I expected had been applied to my account. (Funny how Chase was able to do that during the snow day, but not open its branches.) And I had been charged three $35 fees for insufficient funds!
Absolute bastards. That's what money-grubbing, service-denying Chase and it's lazy, contemptuous employees are. Unrepentant, soulless opportunists. The fox in America's henhouse.
Yes, I made my argument to Chase the next day and got them to reverse the three fees. But it took two hours out of my busy day. Problems with Chase are continually robbing me of valuable time. It's exhausting. And so, today, I am switching to Citibank. Another heartless corporation, I know. But my wife deals with the local branch here in Carroll Gardens, which has shown heart, and some actual caring for its customers. Moreover, my wife's experience has shown that you can actually have a conversation with the bank manager, and work on various financial matters on a personal, one-on-one basis. We'll give it a try.