ED Magedson – Founder
Citiznes Business Bank818 N. Mountain Avenue Upland, California USA
Citiznes Business Bank Can't Walk the Walk - Trust Them at Your Peril Upland California
The short version is simple - After my first 5 or 6 years at CBB, I switched banks around 2001 when I first learned that CBB was anything but committed to maintaining loyal customer relations like they advertise and left me high and dry without a cent over a 3 day weekend when they had my money. After being wooed back many years later with apologizes and promises that things have changed, Citizens Business Bank again made clear that they are not to be trusted and will upon the whim of a teller screw you over and disrupt your business. And watch out if you dare complain - they also have executives who will threaten you with legal action and take retaliatory action against those customers who call out Citizens on their empty promises of customer service, loyalty, friendship and trust. Two times I've trusted Citizens and invested years into my relationship with them and two times they've returned my loyalty with a slap in the face. [continued below]....
If you want to know the whole story, I've set it forth in some detail below - the bottom line is that after many, many years of giving CBB my business, they gave me the business throwing my business into a crisis manufactured by their spite and the ill will of a single teller. If they'll do it it to me, they'll do it to anyone.
Long before I grew my business into the Inland Empires' only full service law firm, I started working at the Citizens Business Bank building in 1994 for 5 dollars per hour as a law clerk. Because I worked in the building that bore their name and had a branch, I started banking there. By 1998 I became a lawyer and opened my business account there and within a year or two of starting was maintaining average balances of about 5-10K per month but still without funds to run up a balance beyond that which I needed for current business and personal expenses. My relationship with them ended abruptly when I made a Friday afternoon deposit of three thousand dollars (consisting of several customer checks to me) before a 3 day weekend and sought to get two hundred dollars cash back as I had no other funds to get through the weekend. I was completely dumbfounded when their spiteful teller refused telling me my entire deposit would be held before any money could be released. I had been banking there for 5 or 6 years, had been in there bank on almost a daily business, had gotten to know many of them, had NEVER had such a problem with them or with any other bank. Well, every business has a bad apple and perhaps this teller was just having a bad day. But when senior management backed her play and gave me some untenable explanations for why I had to get through a 3 day weekend without access to my own money, it was time to move on.
I moved my business accounts across the street to Foothill Independent Bank and had a great experience. However, after 3 or 4 years of enjoying their quality service, FIB was bought out by Pacific Western Bank and one by one, their customer service amenities were stripped and I found myself again dealing with a heartless bank that could not care less about their customers. At this point, the nasty teller who had spoiled my CBB relationship was long gone and I was friends with one of the senior officers at CBB who had been wooing back my business. No one tried to make excuses for the bad experience I had previously had and I was bombarded with CBB advertising about how they're the bank that will be your friend, your partner, that is committed to a loyal relationship, etc. It sounded good as my business had become much larger yet was still growing and needed a banking relationship with a bank that had those qualities. Sadly, though CBB talks the talk, they can't walk the walk or at least choose not to. Not knowing that, I gave them another try starting around 2007 or 2008 to my best recollection.
At this point, my business was grossing around 100K per month and growing. But when the bubble burst, our business struggled like many of our customers and many other Inland Empire small businesses just to survive. During these years we also built up a large pro bono practice providing representation to indigent inmates and to indigent families in the Inland Empire who have disabled children whose educational and disability rights are not being met. Some of our larger cases and projects are entirely pro bono and rely on donations to even fund the costs associated with this work. (See JosephHallLegalDefenseFund.org for a sample of the work we do for our community because we care). Though we've also had our share of million dollar cases, much of the work we do continues to be serving those disenfranchised segments of our community and we frequently are struggling to stay above water. We've been in good company with even the insurance companies and public entities facing financial difficulties causing them in turn to withhold or delay the settlement funds with our business relies on.
On a couple of occasions (2 or 3 to my recollection) over the past year we've been called by CBB early in the morning and notified we would be going negative if a deposit wasn't made right away. Virtually 100% of the time when this happens, it is because a customers large credit card payment has been delayed in posting for some reason or because some other payment to us bounced or was returned. On all such occasions, we immediately deposit funds to avoid any inconvenience to anyone.
Yesterday, we received such a call notifying us of a need to deposit 2800 immediately to avoid going negative. Because of some problem with their scanner, they weren't able to notify us earlier and told us we had to make our deposit within 30 minutes. No problem. I got on the phone with the service manager and explained we had a 5k pending deposit from a completed and authorized credit card transaction and would also be there within the 30 minute time frame with a check from another company I own to cover the shortage. The manager was out and I was speaking to a teller who was the "service manager". She explained to me that my pending credit card deposits and the check I was bringing in were not sufficient for them not to return my checks and that I would have to find another bank to cash my check at if I didn't want it held. Really? I ran about 2 million in funds through their bank in the previous fiscal year, had always instantly taken care of any deficiencies the moment we were notified and had been banking there and trusting them for years again. They knew me.
I pleaded with the service manager who knows me well and offered to provide the authorization numbers for the pending 5K credit card deposit and offered to provide proof that the check I was depositing was good. I have NEVER bounced a check used to make a deposit and NEVER failed to cure any potential deficiency balance immediately so as to prevent CBB from returning our checks. The teller again denied me pointing out that I had many other debits pending for the next day and again told me that my deposit by check would be held and not credited to my account and that therefore my three payroll checks that had hit the bank that morning would be returned.
It is true I had other debits pending that were going to hit the following day - my business account is used for many small things including automated small payments that support our marketing. Also appearing on my daily debit sheet are many other small items including everything from my stores infrequent ebay purchases, to the debit card which is used daily for meals, gas and other office needs, to my kids PayPal account which funds 99 cent apps. Every morning I have a report of these pending daily charges which never amount to more than a couple hundred dollars. My reliance on Citizens Business Bank was across the board. I trusted them with my operating capital and linked my accounts to my CBB account with a false sense of security that they could be trusted. All aspects of my business and life have now been disrupted by CBB's over the top horrible customer service and the retaliatory action of their executives.
Though I could have raided one of my stores for the cash, I called their bluff and told the teller that I was sending in the deposit as I had intended and if they failed to credit me for it and returned my checks I'd be finding another bank. I also sent an email to the executive offices which was answered with a phone call from Senior Vice President Greg Armstrong. When I called him back, he explained to me that he supported the decision to bounce my checks and not accept my deposit. He gave me 2 reasons. First, he noted that in the past year, there had been over 20 NSF items. I think about half of them were from yesterday and as explained above, they were all responsibly handled as soon as we were made aware. Yes, its true that if I kept a large cushion of cash just sitting in the bank that those problems would never arise, but I do not choose to do that and from time to time customers bounce checks to us and things happen that require the movement of funds from one entity to another.
The other reason given was really disturbing. He said that in addition to having all these items that would have not had sufficient funds to clear them if we had not taken care of the problem (as we've always done), that we had also presented a forged item earlier in the year. The really disturbing part about this is that we were the ones who notified CBB about the item. A customer had sent us a 1K check from another country. We soon learned the customer was perpetuating a scam and notified CBB and placed numerous follow up calls to them to check on the status. At one point, they assured us that the check was good and had cleared even though we were telling them we were convinced the check was not good. Of course, their error was soon realized and we were correct about our warning to them that the check was a forged item. Though Mr. Armstrong acknowledged that the teller had not told him that part of the story, no apology was offered nor was any corrective action taken.
After I sent Mr. Armstrong another email with excerpts from internal memos showing we had done what we would to notify CBB about that item and announcing my intention to write this blog article, Mr. Armstrong responded to me that I'd be hearing from CBBs lawyers and that all 3 of my accounts would be closed by the end of business today and that checks would be sent to me for the balances. Mind you that though I've announced my intention to find a bank that doesn't have such atrocious policies and customer service, it takes a bit of time to put the account in place and to link the electronic payments to it. So my accounts are being closed today by Mr. Armstrong because of my email complaining about the horrible service and my disclosure that I did not intend to keep my horrible experience with CBB a secret.
So, notwithstanding my deposit to cover the checks that were presented to CBB, they have chosen to bounce 3 payroll checks and to close my accounts causing perhaps dozens of necessary payments and electronic fund transfers to fail before I have an opportunity to open a new account and link those payments. I haven't yet decided if I will bring a lawsuit against them for their breach of their Agreement with me and the damages they are intentionally causing but the least I can do is to try to warn others about the truth of what can be expected from Citizens Business Bank.
So, if you don't need a friend, don't need a partner, don't need a bank that has some loyalty, understanding or concern, and if you carry a large balance and will never need to ask for an accommodation, then Citizens Bank is for you. If you sometimes need some cash back or for your bank to not hold a check while other deposits are pending or any other consideration, you're just out of luck at Citizens. If you complain about it, watch out for their retaliation. The egos of their executives get as wrapped up in their banking power as their tellers. Their unilateral closing of my accounts as pledged by their Senior Vice President Greg Armstrong on account of my complaint is unethical, despicable and the most vile banking experience I've ever had. I had some warning signs and am aware that other lawfirms have had to sue CBB over their excessive fees and bad customer service but had never wanted to be involved even though other law firms solicited us for clients to join their lawsuits against Citizens. Instead, I chose to try to develop the friendly partnership with them that they advertise all over the place - what a mistake I made.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/05/2013 05:56 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/citiznes-business-bank/upland-california-91786/citiznes-business-bank-cant-walk-the-walk-trust-them-at-your-peril-upland-california-1081826. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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