Bank of America knows its customer service is awful
Chief executive Brian Moynihan tells employees to be nicer, but it's the bank's proposed fees that consumers loathe.
Bank of America (BAC) chief executive Brian Moynihan has sent a letter to nearly 270,000 employees telling them to make it easier for customers to do business with the bank, especially in light of its poor performance in customer satisfaction surveys.
Moynihan's letter, which Reuters viewed a copy of, urges workers on the phones at customer call centers to use the same "problem-solving approach" as U.S. Trust and Bank of America's own Merrill Lynch representatives do with their well-off clientele.
As it stands, Bank of America customers feel like chattel compared to other banks' human assets. The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index shows Bank of America's score sliding 3% from last year to 66, its poorest showing in a decade and well beneath the 79 scored by small banks and credit unions or even the 74 posted by JPMorgan Chase (JPM).
"Customers increasingly are rejecting the ever-mounting fees charged by large banks and taking their business to credit unions instead," Claes Fornell, ACSI founder, said in a statement. "Bank of America, in particular, stands out as the only bank that is still below its pre-recession customer satisfaction level. It is clear that this is mostly because of fees."
Though Bank of America has had problems coordinating its banking and lending branches since acquiring troubled mortgage broker Countrywide in 2008, its customer relations nightmare began in earnest back in 2011 when it suggested a $5 monthly fee for debit card use. The Occupy movement seized on the ensuing customer anger to encourage the transfer of assets from Bank of America and other large banks to small banks and credit unions.
That didn't stop Bank of America from trying a fee hike again last year, with representatives from Massachusetts blowing the whistle on those plans to The Wall Street Journal in March. By November, plans to force customers to avoid fees by shunning tellers, maintaining minimum balances, getting Bank of America credit cards and holding mortgages with the bank were dead and Moynihan was in full retreat.
The bank's chief executive says his new customer service plan will roll out during a big company event on Thursday, but he's still in as tough a spot as ever. Profits were down 63% in the fourth quarter as $5 billion in mortgage-related charges dragged down Bank of America's numbers. Investors don't care much about low rates, federal regulations or the bank's mortgage mess -- which predates the Countrywide deal. Customers, meanwhile, have been adamant that investor profits shouldn't be paid for by the bank's low-income accountholders, who are disproportionately affected by new and rising fees.
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I have my mortgage with them and they are the worst when it comes to interacting with their customers. They are so wrapped up in their bureaucracy you can't get a straight answer from them.
Years ago I joined BofA. Briefly. I soon found that I was charged if my balance dropped below $300, if I talked to a teller, or if I used a BofA ATM that was not physically located at a bank! I then started telephoning in to check my balance, and found they charge for calling more than a few times a month. So basically then wanted my money but nothing to do with me as a customer and would hit me with fees if I wanted to contact them. I left for a different bank and have had no fees since.
Wal-Mart accidentally charged me FOUR times for a single purchase! When I contacted BOA to report the mistake, they fixed it for me...CHARGING ME $109.00 for the privilege of doing it. I am furious!! It's bad enough that they charge me money to use my OWN money but now they have charged me to correct the mistakes others did to my account. Oh, did I mention that it has also cost me $270 in nsf fees because several small checks (under $10) were returned while they were straightening out the mess?? So, a mistake by Wal-Mart, corrected by BOA, has cost me over $380.00...an amount MORE than the actual correction they made to my account was.
Have I complained? Oh, heck, yeah! Has it been straightened out yet? Seriously?? They are still investigating the matter so NOTHING has been done.
I don't know about everyone else, but I live pay check to pay check and $380 is a LOT of money to me.
Ironically, the entire employee base was Hispanic, and I would notice that they were considerate to other Hispanics, but then would act totally different when It was my turn to be waited on. I have since talked to other individuals about this that had the same experience. I mentioned this to the manager before I closed my accounts and all she said was, "I'm sorry." She didn't ask for specifics and offered none because it was obvious by her short reply she was not interested.
I took my savings and checking and moved to another bank and have not had any rudeness from any employee.
But when BoA decided to float the idea of charging me $5/month to use my own money, as painful as it was to transfer my money, I left them and joined a credit union that my company was a member of.
My checking account with my credit union pays interest. It isn't much, in the neighborhood of 2.5% per month. But it beats a charge. My credit union also paid out a dividend today, and they deposited the money directly into my savings account.
Remember: banks (even local banks) work for shareholders; credit unions work for members.
Worst ever...had their mortgage side and credit card side...no longer and never again...worst customer service I've ever had to deal with.
We tried the Credit Union while with Wells and B of A. Biggest issue was needing a refinance of our mortgage to a lower interest rate, appraisal fee and closing costs. Credit Union wanted 2 points to meet Wells rate and closing costs and appraisal were much higher than Wells. We are maybe fortunate however we have never had bad service from B of A, Wells or the credit union. They all have brochures that define the charges for all fees and best accounts to have to lower or eliminate fees.
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Like rival Wal-Mart, it's pointing the finger elsewhere for its problems while other retailers are coping just fine.
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