Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bank of America -- Seen From Arizona

[This is a horrible post. No real analysis, just a commentary of my Thanksgiving 2011 trip]

Home. It's where I want to be, and I was just already there. 

Naive Melody was the theme song when I went back home.  My mind goes loopy in Taiwan. When I am here, I think the whole world lives in apartment buildings, drives a scooter and pays their utility bills at 7-Eleven. Yet, when I am in Arizona it's the reverse. People live in small mansions, drive SUVs, and hate Bank of America. 

Below is the picture of the Bank of America by my parents house. 

If you look at this picture and smirk at the broken Bank of America sign, you aren't alone. The whole time I was there I suffered from a deluge of Bank of America hate. I went out to eat with my uncles for a pre-Turkey lunch and when I tried to bring up BAC, these were their responses:  "Aren't they already bankrupt?", "Josh, you have no idea how much I hate that bank."

My uncle Bob was the most passionate about his hate. He owns an auto body repair shop and had a business account with BAC for over ten years.  Yet, when the credit started to become tight they pulled credit lines from his business and demanded stricter terms on collateral. At every juncture they would also fee him for special statements and banking fees. He is currently working on switching banks and when I asked him for a deposit bag he was more than happy to oblige.

I had opened a Chase savings account because I came up with a brilliant scheme to bypass international wire fees by depositing travelers cheques with QuickDeposit -- unfortunately my master scheme failed and needed to come inside a Chase branch. 

The Chase branch was absolutely beautiful. The ATM seemed hi-tech, the branch was very clean and even though I was only waiting in line for a couple minutes, one of their employees opened a new teller window for me.

  Using a Bank of America ATM or going into a branch is a whole other matter. The ATM machines were scoffed up like someone had taken their keys and scratched up the whole interface. I also had trouble using the ATM since the functionality was a bit awkward and therefore trouble making a deposit. (granted, I am a bit thick)

  Going inside an actual Bank of America branch was unpleasant. For one, there was security guard outside the bank which made it feel very unfriendly (I didn't see a security guard at any other bank.) The second reason was the bank teller was very inexperienced. I had several old pennies that were underwater for a long time and when I went to deposit them, the teller told me they wouldn't accept it. She said they could accept "mutilated currency" but not "mutilated coins." Mutilated currency?! Are coins not considered currency?  I literally had to argue with the bank teller to deposit eleven pennies. It ended with her having to ask the manager if the coins were acceptable.  The whole time the bank line had gotten pretty long and no one offered to open a teller window.  Needless to say, the BAC branch seemed downright bogan compared to the ritziness of Chase. 

Maybe these branches are doomed to be cut as part of the New BAC plan. Maybe BAC isn't sufficiently investing in branches to prepare for Basel III capital requirements. Either way, BAC looked like crap compared to the Chase branch. If my experience with BAC was common, it's no wonder everyone has such negative view of the bank. If this anecdote represents the branches nationally - Moynihan has plenty of work to do.

[Long BAC]

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