Yesterday I had an experience with my bank that throws out the usual premise of “big banks, big bucks, low concern for the lowly customer.” It might have been because I was polite when I complained instead of my usual storming in and shouting.
To backtrack. It was the first day after the long Canada weekend and I expected somewhat of a lineup inside the bank. I had to go in as I had to get into my safety deposit box. When I arrived, counting a couple of older adults (well, older than I am), nine people were ahead of me, including the two standing at the only two working tellers. This bank branch has four teller wickets. A third teller, a fellow I’d never seen before had the “another officer will be pleased to serve you” sign up and was busy doing whatever tellers do when they close but still have to finish up. The lady ahead of me in line told me she’d already complained – to a loan officer as the manager wasn’t in and that third “teller” with the closed wicket was really a teller. I waited in line 20 minutes and during that time counted 12 people and one dog behind me in line.
The teller usually takes you to the safety deposit boxes, but because they were so busy she had another staffer do this. Clearly, he’d never done the safety box detail before and I had to instruct him. I maintained my civility with him and the tellers – none of this was their fault.
And maybe deep down in my subconscious I remembered another visit to another bank years ago right after my mother died. Her pension cheque had just arrived and my godmother-aunt came with me to deposit it in my now late mother’s account. I had no idea if I could do this but my godmother said it was okay as I was just depositing it into her account, not cashing it. And I was going in as me, so my name would be on the deposit slip. In my memoir I write about this scenario.
What I do remember is something else connected to money. Mom’s pension cheque for August arrived just after she died.
My godmother takes me to Mom’s bank…
“Just fill in the deposit slip in your mother’s name and deposit the whole amount,” my godmother says. “Don’t even tell them she’s dead. You can do that in a few days when the cheque clears the bank.”
I hold my breath, keep my mouth shut and pass the deposit slip (copy made for my records) to the teller. As she looks at it, I imagine someone, God, my conscience personified, but definitely not my Mom, shouting in the teller’s ear.
“Julia Langevin is dead.”
The teller rubber stamps the cheque and the deposit slips, gives me one, and puts her copy and the cheque in her drawer.
The cheque clears. Of course the estate lawyer has to notify the company issuing the cheque of her death. They write back instructing me to return the cheque if it hasn’t already been processed,
(excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)
The key words above are “if it hasn’t already been processed.” The key word’s for yesterday’s bank incident could be “how to process.” I decided to phone head office and complain about the branch situation. No contact number was on the bank’s website so I phoned the general 800 number in the print phone book. Here a fellow told it me was the office of the president for complaining, and gave me a phone number…the French connection. Despite my French maiden name I can’t speak much French. So I left a cryptic message in English and checked online under the bank’s name and “president complaints” and found the English phone number.
I phoned and a pleasant man answered and took down my information. I made it clear that I gave full marks to the two tellers who were trying to cope. He replied, “thank you.” He took my name and phone number and said he would get back to me. I expected to wait a few days but it was more like a few minutes. The problem was one teller quit unexpectedly on the Friday, the third teller was a student who could only come in for the morning, and a new manager was coming in on Wednesday. And this bank representative apologized to me for the bad service.
So, is this a case of the old axiom of catching more flies with honey than vinegar? Or can bank employees – even connected to the president’s office – be polite and quick to sort out the problems?
Take your pick. Now, if only my bank balance could increase that easily.
Only child writes