As of today, I am completely free of That Bank I Haven’t Been Naming That Claims To Be The Bank Everyone In The Country Uses. I will never go back, and every time I travel out of the area and have to pay a few bucks in ATM fees, I will cheer myself up by remembering this saga as one of the most unpleasant things I’ve had to endure lately. It will be worth some fees now and then to no longer be in the clutches of such a consumer-unfriendly institution.
And because I am me, it’s not as though I was able to walk in there today and withdraw my money and continue on my merry way. Oh no. That would’ve been too easy. It had to be a major production.
I went to the Evil Bank closest to my house. I walked up to a teller and told her I wanted to close my accounts; she directed me to a waiting area and told me that someone would be right with me.
I sat down.
I checked my email on my phone.
I waited some more.
I people watched. Know what I saw? I saw a lot of people come in, get on line, wait on line for a while (why wasn’t the line moving? I have no idea), and then get disgusted and leave.
I waited for 25 minutes for someone to even ACKNOWLEDGE that I was THERE. In that time, I watched 6 different people give up on the wait.
Finally a smiling young man asked how he could help me. I told him I wanted to close my accounts. He behaved as if wounded and asked me if there had been a problem, and it’s only because I’m a VERY RESTRAINED PERSON (you hush) that I managed to keep myself from punching him in the mouth.
“Well, let’s see,” I answered. “I don’t even know where to begin. How about with how I just sat out there for 25 minutes? No, wait! Let’s start with how your NATIONAL bank keeps telling me they can’t do anything with the accounts I opened in a different state, or how I’ve been married for two and a half months and you people still haven’t managed to correctly change my name on my accounts. Or—oh, this is my FAVORITE PART!—how about how it took weeks to get you to send me an ATM card and then the first time I tried to use it, YOUR MACHINE ATE IT?” I smiled broadly, because even I have to admit that at a certain point it’s just FUNNY.
“Oh, dear,” he stammered. “That does sound like a lot of problems….”
“Yes, well,” I continued, “That’s not even addressing all the service charges on my FREE accounts, or the deposit that went missing until I made a big stink, and how I was then told it didn’t have a deposit slip rather than that the bank just screwed up.”
Silence stretched out between us over the big mahogany desk.
“Well, I, er, um, let me put it this way: Is there anything I can do at this point to make things right for you to continue your relationship with our bank?” You had to hand it to this guy; he was trying. He seemed like a good sort. He had Stockholm Syndrome, you know. It’s not that the bank is bad, he seemed to want to tell me. It’s all just been a misunderstanding! A multi-month, continuing nightmare of a misunderstanding!
“No, I think I’d just like to take my money to a bank that doesn’t make me want to kill people. Thanks, though.”
He chuckled. “Fair enough,” he said. I got the feeling he’d faced disgruntled bankers across this desk before. “I’ll just need your identification,” he added.
I slid my driver’s license across the desk to him. He squinted at it.
“I’ll need… something else, as well.”
“Something else? Like what?”
“Oh, just another form or two of identification. Yes, how about two other things with your name on them.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him. Was he just yanking my chain because I dared to leave the bank?
“Oh, it’s just,” he continued, hastily, in response to my look, “your driver’s license is new. We need to confirm your identification.”
“My license is new because I just moved here,” I pointed out. He nodded but seemed unmoved.
I slid my Discover card and my insurance card across the desk to him. He squinted at everything in front of him and then busied himself tapping away on the computer. After a while he paused, clearly confused.
“Wait… are you also Mir Ex’slastname?”
“Yes,” I said slowly, mentally counting to 10. “That was my name before I remarried, and I changed my name, but your bank decided to only change it on 2 out of my 3 accounts.”
“I see…” he said, tapping away again, and checking my spread out identification sitting in front of him. “Well, do you have your New Hampshire driver’s license with your old name?”
“No, they take it from you when you get your new license.” I hefted my purse onto my lap from its spot on the floor. It was probably heavy enough to hurt him. Maybe I could just smack him in the head with it and claim I’d been digging for a pen.
“Well do you have… hmm, I’m not sure how to do this.” He was mystified. GIVE YOU YOUR OWN MONEY? he seemed to want to say, BUT WHY?
I dug around in the folder I’d bought with me. I was completely out of patience. I started slapping paperwork down on his desk.
“THIS is my social security card. THIS is my marriage license, clearly displaying both old and new names. THIS is my business license which YOUR bank refused to acknowledge. THESE are all of my starter checks on all three accounts because YOUR BANK never mailed me my real checks. I don’t know what else you could POSSIBLY need, but I think it’s time for you to GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK.”
He was not a stupid man. He went to work and had my paperwork ready in about 60 seconds. He then took me to the world’s slowest bank teller and wished me well.
The teller spent about an hour trying to figure out how to combine all three amounts into one check, then gave up and issued three separate checks, each of them taking about 20 minutes apiece to process. I especially liked how she really took her time hand-signing each one with great deliberation while I fantasized about stabbing her with the pen on the little chain in front of me.
I then asked the teller for directions to My New Beloved Bank, taking care not to modulate my volume at all. I wanted to make sure she could hear me, you know. She seemed rather embarrassed. I was not. At all. What do I care? I’m not stepping foot in that building ever again.
Thus ends our tale. Thank God.