Breaking Up with My Bank

Last week I closed my Bank of America checking account and transferred it to The Golden 1 Credit Union. The week before, I transferred my safe deposit box from BofA to First Northern Bank. As soon as I can claim my last “reward,” I’ll stop using my BofA Visa card.


It didn’t give me any joy to do this. I’ve been a Bank of America customer for 36 years, ever since my parents set me up with my first checking account right out of high school in 1976. That was when Bank of America was headquartered in San Francisco and the teller was the wife of our family dentist and my classmate’s mother.


In some ways, ending my relationship with Bank of America feels like a divorce. We drifted apart. BofA’s corporate values aren’t my community values. When the pretty young manager asked me why I was closing my account, I told her I couldn’t bank with an organization so mired in the foreclosure scandals and that continually adds and increases fees. She responded, “Oh, personal reasons.”


Personal reasons. When you get too-big-to-fail, I guess you don’t see your customers’ values as your own any more.


Just like a divorce, there were uncomfortable moments to our break-up.


I stood a good 15 minutes before a teller ushered me into the bank vault to retrieve my safe deposit box items, then another wait for a manager to officially sign me out. The discomfort will be worth the $52 I save annually by having the same size box at First Northern.


After shifting my automatic payments and direct deposit to the Golden 1, BofA hit me with a new $12 fee. When I called to ask what this was for, Ariel from the call center told me, “A decision has been made to charge Californians without direct deposit or a balance of $1,500 a $12 monthly maintenance fee. If you haven’t gotten that notice, it should come in the mail soon. If you can’t do that, then, with a direct deposit of only $250, you can get a checking account for only $8.95 a month.”


“I’ve been a customer of BofA for 36 years. I don’t want to pay this $12 fee,” I stated emphatically.


“We can give you a one-time courtesy reprieve on that fee. Hold on while I check with my manager.” Just like in divorce, asking clearly and directly gets you what you want.


I wonder how many millions of dollars this too-big-to-fail bank reaps from folks like me who hesitate to go through the hassle of a bank break-up? Fortunately, on the other side of my break-up are local bankers offering me free checking. Silly me for being loyal for so long,


The final act of closing my 36-year checking account was the hardest. The day before, a teller and I had had a nice chit-chat when I came in to pay my Visa bill. She smiled in recognition as I approached, then tightened as I asked her to close my account.


Such a pleasant woman; too bad she works for a company that has lost its way, and with it, reliable, longtime customers like me.


This article was published in the Davis Enterprise:

Judith MacBrine dba The Mirror Group © Copyright 2012

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