Sunday, May 10, 2015

No More Bank Robery For Me

What? Oh, you thought that title meant I was the one doing the bank robbery? My my, you haven't been keeping up, have you? No, what I'm celebrating here is my end to a relationship with a bank that has been robbing me!

Five years ago I transferred funds as my CDs matured into IRA CDs in US Bank. They were offering 3%, and back then that was the best deal available.  It was coming down from 5+%, a big disappointment, but everybody else was down in the 2s, and you can see what interest rates have been doing since then. Bummer for the investor. But 3% was still 3%.

At least that's what I thought.

I transferred two CDs in, about 3 weeks apart, because that's when they matured. They weren't huge, nor even a huge part of my investment portfolio. I liked to keep things a bit diversified. Simple, too. CDs were supposed to be simple. You put X dollars in, leave it for Y years at Z% interest. When the time is over, you get your original amount back with compounded interest. End of story. Well, unless you take early withdrawal so the bank doesn't have it to play around with any more. Then they can take out a penalty fee, which seems fair.

I promise that they can keep my money to do whatever bank thing they want to with it, the government insures it (us both) against risk, and they promise to pay me back compounded interest at a rate specified when we both sign the initial deposit contract.

What's so hard about that? Well, unless SOMEBODY, aka US Bank, lets greed triumph over ethics.

A few months in, I got this letter in the mail from US Bank. It explained how they were going to renege on our deal, and keep doing so for the length of time my CDs were deposited. It seems I wasn't a BIG ENOUGH depositor, and they actually admitted that the whales were the only clients they were interested in. Now if I wanted to increase my funds left in their tender care to, oh say, $25,000 or more, then nevermind this letter. However, since I now had 2 CDs on deposit with them instead of just one, they were going to declare this to be a retirement account, and charge me for their services in managing it for me. Every year.

Two CDs: what's to manage?

It's locked in for 5 years. I can't reinvest in some other form of account, move it around, choose different stocks, bonds, whatever my funds might be sitting in at any given time. There are no choices to be made by me about risk levels versus possible returns on investment. I can't even change my mind and withdraw my funds without a full 10% penalty, one of the harshest penalties I'd heard of to that point.

You can well imagine I stormed into one of their branches at my first opportunity and demanded to know how they could change the contract terms on me like that. The young squirt I was shunted off to in his turn expressed Shock! Shock, I tell you! that somebody in the US Banking system had actually written up CDs for a full 3% interest! OMG! Heads would roll!

Apparently I was supposed to be so overwhelmingly grateful that I would rush right out and kiss the ground that the bank was built on. Or maybe the squirt?

When I further pursued their supposed rationale for changing the terms of the CDs, inquiring just what I was supposed to be getting for the fees they were removing from my money, I was told it was for "advising" me.

Hell, what advising? Once again, in case you've missed it somewhere here, these are simple cotton picking CDs we're talking about here. Never once was there any "advising" being dished out. Not when I walked in with my first deposit. Not when I walked in with my 2nd. Not when I complained. Not when they sent me their annual salt-rubbing letter reminding me they were removing another chunk of funds from my CDs. Never. Nada. Nothing. No sirree. Uh-uh. Zip.

As the years have passed, I have taken every available opportunity to express to anybody who could be forced to listen to me to badmouth the policies and integrity of US Bank. I've spoken, blogged, finished surveys both written and over the phone, mentioned to other financial institutions I do business with, and done everything else possible to let the world know just how US Bank thinks it's appropriate to let their greed rule over their manner of doing business.

I don't fight their right to make a profit. During the time they controlled my funds, they had plenty of ways to profit from  the original contract. Loans on cars, mortgages, all kinds of transactions would have brought them a profit without cheating me. But no, they thought they needed more.

They locked me in a contract, then turned around and changed the terms without allowing me any chance to back out. They said I wasn't a good enough customer for them? Well, guess what? I'm never going to be a customer of theirs ever again. I haven't overdrawn an account, created extra work for them that they didn't put on themselves in the process of changing the terms and setting up yearly withdrawals, or done anything else to earn anything other than respect from them. If I ever again have liquid funds large enough to meet their preferred customer profile, those funds are going elsewhere! A credit union, a mattress, even a coffee can would be preferable to letting US Bank ever get their hands on my money again. I consider what they did to me to be bank robbery, even though most others think of that term as referring to the customer robbing the bank rather than the bank robbing the customer.

So never again, US Bank. I withdrew the last of my money from you last week when the last CD matured. I waited and took it out under your terms. One of us is ethical. You'll never see me again. NO MORE BANK ROBBERY FOR ME!

I will, however, continue spreading the word.

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