My story is one of horror and ineptitude by a Houston,Texas based bank called Bank United.
This bank was recently acquired by Bank of America,but has kept its own name. It all began about April 1997, after I had been a customer of the bank for approximately a year. After attempting to make an online purchase, my gifts never arrived in the mail.
In short, I discovered that the online merchant had a great deal of complaints about non delivery of goods.
In an attempt to protect myself after all other methods were exhausted, I contacted my bank.
The "Personal Banking Manager" told me that I should open a new account and that my outstanding checks could be manually listed on a form. When these checks were presented for payment, the numbers and amounts would be manually checked and cleared if they were on the list I provided. Fine.
Except that is exactly what did not happen. I had no fewer than eight checks returned for non payment by the bank. These were ones I listed with the bank. It gets better. I was charged an average of $22.50 per check by the merchants I had written them to, which included day care, Ford Credit, the grocery store, and
my mortgage company. This was in addition to the $25 fee per check charged by the bank. These fees totaled almost $400.
Once I began to voice my complaints to the bank, I was given a cold shoulder. "Can you prove you submitted these checks to the bank?" I could, and I did. At first, the banking assistant I worked with at my branch was rude and sullen. She flat out lied to me and said she never took these check numbers from me.
The bank manager sided with her employee, and told me to contact the Better Business Bureau. When I called and wrote to the corporate office, I produced a document with her signature on it which proved my claim. This process took about 3 weeks.
In the meantime, I was given a "live" check from my company and took it to the bank to deposit. Within a week, five more checks had bounced. This was because my new account was coded by the bank as a "new account holder," which placed all deposited checks on hold for ten business days. My monthly bill paying had
resulted in still more fees and bounced checks.
By this time, I was furious. The banking manager who assisted me originally was reprimanded by the bank, so I was told. Before this happened, she called me at work and said she would send letters to all of the creditors who were charging me a bounced check fee.
What was sent was so illegible and so illiterate that one store (a barber shop) called me and asked what in the world they had received? They simply could not read the document. When I contacted the corporate office, I was finally given apologies when they were faxed a copy of one of the letters sent on my behalf.
They understood, finally, what a bunch of asses they had become. After, I must add, I threatened them with a suit for their reprehensible business practices.
I wish my story could end there. Alas, I am doomed to repeat my past experiences. Approximately seven months ago, I visited Fry's Electronics in Arlington to buy some software. When I got home, my checkbook was gone. When I called the store, I was told it was there. When I went back, no one had any idea what I
was talking about. It was gone.
The bank was called again, but this time I had some idea about what could be done. Alas, it was the weekend, and the only branches available were new ones collocated in Kroger grocery stores. I went to my local grocery to have the bank close my account.
Without making you bored, this was the result of opening a new account: Seven bounced checks. I deposited my "live" check, and the same process happened to my account: it was coded a brand new account. My paycheck was held, and my payments to
This time, every person I contacted at the bank was unwilling to help. Snotty people on the phone actually told me: "And the reason you had to close your account was because you did what? Lost your checkbook, right? So how is that our problem and not
yours?" My God, the attitude these people had. Most with salaries a fraction of my own, with intelligence to match. My God.
I have never been a fan of banks to begin with. Our free enterprise system rewards companies and organizations that add value to something. Take raw products, shape them, and sell them. Add value. What does a bank provide, other than insurance from the taxpayers (us)? Not a d**n thing, but they have all got masters degrees in belligerence. Bank United has
earned a Ph.D.. Listen to this:
When the branch manager spoke with me and said she would not refund any fees or write letters on my behalf to the companies who had checks bounce, she said I was out of luck. I called the Bank United banking center (972-263-3222) and demanded a final answer to this situation. I explained (now angrily)
that no phone transfer, voice mail, or other such tactic would work. I wanted a definitive answer about the bank admitting fault and helping me resolve a situation they had caused. After 2 hang ups by banking employees, and a surly manager, I was told to get lost. Literally.
So, I decided to let people know about the kind of treatment I had been subjected to by Bank United. I decided to create an open forum for frank discussion about the practices of Bank United when dealing with customer complaints. I created
About eight weeks later, I received a phone call from the Director of Public Relations for Bank United, and the Chief Legal Counsel of the bank. They informed me that they were aware of my web site, and chiefly wanted to know why I had created it. When I began to detail the misdeeds of the bank, the phone line went dead. They hung up. And never called back. I tried to call them back after 50 minutes, and was told they were unavailable and were not taking messages from Mr.
Well, the fun just keeps on! December 18, a Saturday, a man delivered papers showing I was being sued in US District Court for trademark infringement and dilution. I have until January 7, 2000, to respond to this suit. The trademark infringement allegation will undoubtedly be dismissed due to the prevailing
attitude of the courts today. The dilution will most likely be decided in my favor. Regardless, the point is that this bank, Bank United, is using its deep pockets to silence a lone critic. This is capitalism at its worst moment: the monolithic Goliath brow beating the tiny, insignificant consumer who stands
alone. Who dares to speak out and exercise his First Amendment rights from the Constitution of the United States of America. My God, who else might speak out!