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You should probably expect this from a bank named after an enema

I used to be a customer of Fleet Bank. While I was there, I never got the impression that they thought very much of a small depositor like me. I was nickled and dimed at every opportunity until I finally quit them and found a bank more to my liking (Bank of New Hampshire, a subsidiary of BankNorth).

However, my employer still uses Fleet, and quite often I am required to deal with them. Now, I've never had any problems with any of the people at any of the branches I've been. Somehow they've managed to combine horrible policies with wonderful personnel. I dunno how they do it, but they do.

But the overall service has suffered from those policies. Recently I went to one of their branches located in a mall. It was a Friday, during the noontime hour. There were four people in the branch - two in offices, one greeter, and a single teller working frantically to help the nearly one dozen people waiting in line. After waiting over 10 minutes, I conducted my business and left, disgusted. I've been to many branches of my current bank, Bank of New Hampshire, and I don't think I've ever been in one with less than three tellers on duty.

Recently Fleet was bought by Bank of America, and the two are starting to integrate their operations. The latest development came today, when it was reported that Fleet was going to lay off about 1,500 people - all among tellers and branch personnel. Reports also said they would be asking the people being laid off to leave the branch immediately (and, presumably, to not let the door hit them in the ass on the way out).

Fleet/Bank of America states that they want to provide "customer delight." To the way I see it, those customers will be standing in line even longer to see the fewer tellers.

Perhaps I'm not seeing it right. To my perspective, cutting the number of people who deal with the small customers face-to-face is showing just how little Fleet/Bank of America cares about the walk-in people and small depositors. But perhaps the bank has thought of a way to make people feel "delight" about waiting in line even longer. Perhaps the bank will equip its branches with buffets or open bars for the people waiting in line. Hell, they might even start pumping laughing gas in to generate the promised "customer delight." Who knows just what strokes of genius those brilliant minds at Fleet/Bank of America have come up with? I just can't wait to find out.

(Disclaimer: I own no stock in any banks, nor have any financial interests in any banks. I am just a single guy who has grown to like BankNorth, and loathe Fleet.)

Comments (13)

That's a subject like you j... (Below threshold)

That's a subject like you just don't see every day.

I was choosing a new bank t... (Below threshold)

I was choosing a new bank the other day, and was considering Fleet Bank, well, fleetingly. They had a student banking special, which sounded good, until I realized that it included "1 year of free checking." Screw that! I want absolutely, always free checking. And then I noticed that it was a subsidiary of Bank of America, which is the sprawling entity of doom. I went with Commerce, which is much better.

Geez J,You still g... (Below threshold)

Geez J,

You still go inside to a bank? I haven't been inside a bank in 5 years! I'm absolutely lost here what do you need to do inside a bank branch that you can't do via ATM, on-line, or over the phone?

What are you going inside t... (Below threshold)

What are you going inside the bank at all?

Why do you need to have a teller perform a transaction for you?

I can't even remember when the last ime I went INSIDE a bank.

All my transactions are handled at the ATM or online.

Who needs tellers?

Preceeding commenters are o... (Below threshold)

Preceeding commenters are obviously bank-employed trolls who want us to always go with the automated, impersonal, and cheap-for-the-bank solutions.

I go into my bank when I have questions for the teller, when I have more than one transaction to conduct (so I don't stall the line at the ATM or the drive up because I'm a nice fellow), or when I need to deposit coins.

Personally, I'm a mean consumer who won't participate in something that one-sidedly serves my vendor unless I can benefit. Online bill pay? That I have to pay for? No. Automated check-outs? Thanks, but I'd rather be ignored by a cute young lady who'd prefer to talk with her compatriot checkers.

I'd not hold out much hope ... (Below threshold)

I'd not hold out much hope for customer service improving. Our mortgage is at BOA, and the local branch has been open almost a year. They confuse friendliness with competence; they are extraordinary in both regards (one each direction.)

Man, you should live here J... (Below threshold)

Man, you should live here JT, it is so bad here that those who can afford it send messengers to the bank to do their business for them. I rarely go in one, unless it is business that is very private, otherwise I just send one of my people to make deposits, withdrawals, etc.

During my study-time in Cam... (Below threshold)

During my study-time in Cambridge, the bank-branch at Harvard Square changed name and owner three times: first it was BAY BANK, than BANK BOSTON, than FLEET Bank. Can't say that it ever got better in that branch from a customers point of view.

Here in Germany the major banks a couple of years ago decided that the average small customers is to much of a cost and burden and started to outsource this business and/or close a lot of branches. Meanwhile they are steaming back at full speed because they found out that the eliminated a lot of good business with loans and savings likewise. Of course providing a simple checking account is a loosing business for the bank (or at least unattractive from a cost-earnings-ratio point of view). But get rid of these customers and you loose all other business too on the long run, this at last is the German banking experience and maybe worthwhile noticing for American banks.

Best wishes to Geater Boston,
Cheerio from Old Europe

My wife and I opened an acc... (Below threshold)

My wife and I opened an account at BofA a few months ago because we wanted to be reasonably sure we could find no-fee ATMs pretty much anywhere we travel, or if the right opportunity comes along to move to another part of the country we wouldn't have to switch banks.

The branch where we opened our accounts had just opened when we made the move and we may have been inside the branch three or four times -- but we've never had trouble with long lines or incompetent service. The one oddity was a teller asked me if we needed to set up an ATM card for our account and I told her we already had. Maybe she just assumed because I came inside I didn't have one.

When I lived in California BofA was the Lesser Satan of the banking world, Wells Fargo being the Great Satan. Now our deposits are with BofA and our mortgage is with Wells Fargo -- and we're quite satisfied with both. I doubt we'd care to bank with Wells Fargo though.

The worst experience we've had recently with banking was with a locally headquartered credit union, which was why we decided to consider moving our deposits. Somehow the hometown folks couldn't keep from pissing us off, and the faceless multinational corporation is doing right by us. Screwed-up world, ain't it?

Banks suck. I use credit un... (Below threshold)

Banks suck. I use credit unions.

Since I'm a bank teller, I'... (Below threshold)

Since I'm a bank teller, I'll just mention that the "one teller" problem might've been due to someone calling in sick and another teller being at lunch, rather than a stupid management staffing policy.

Although it certainly COULD be the latter.

Banks have to be the most b... (Below threshold)

Banks have to be the most brilliant scam ever conceived. Let's look at the concept: Hey, buddy. Why don't you pay me to keep your money for ya?

Or a more detailed analysis:
Joe: Let me borrow some money to invest in stocks, and I'll pay you 5% interest on the loan.
Moe: Ok. Sounds good.
--later, after Joe has made a LOT of money on Moe's loan--
Moe: Hey, Joe. Mind if I borrow some money from you to invest for myself?
Joe: No problem. You can pay me back at 10% interest.
Moe: 10%? Why so much? I loaned money to you at 5%
Joe: Easy--I'm a bank.

Not alone there, Jay. I had... (Below threshold)

Not alone there, Jay. I had a problem with a computer service bill. I even went there and signed papers. They were supposed to take care of it and I switched banks. They had already caused me a great deal of distress. NOW Fleet is after me for what was a $98 bill that they should not have paid from my account to my owing THEM over $7,000; they are hunting me mercilessly.






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