The final chapter of Bad Banking

By Mir
July 25, 2007

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 waited.

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.


  1. Sara

    Did you really say all that? If so, you are now my idol and I will place you upon a pedestal and call you pretty and smart and never allow the words “math is hard” to be uttered in your presence. You totally have a black belt in kicking evil bank’s ass.
    Also, “disgruntled bankers” would be a great name for a band.

  2. tuney

    Holy Cow, Mir. What Sara said. Daaaannnng. *clapping*

  3. Pop C

    Did the Bank’s checks bounce?

  4. Cristin

    Bravo! I can totally see me doing this. Thankfully, though, I haven’t needed to.

  5. Anna


    With your insurance/doctors appointment fiasco and your interactions with the INSTITUTION POSING AS A NATIONWIDE CONSUMER FRIENDLY BANK, you have definitely mastered the southern art of “giving them a talking to.”

    Your are now a southern belle, without the accent but definitely with the attitude.

  6. Cheryl

    I am so sorry you had to go through this banking hell! I have been reading your saga about banking problems for some time now, and I truly feel your pain. I work for a national bank here in Canada, and in our branch especially, we try to give our clients the “small town” banking experience every time they walk in – which is certainly not what you experienced with your national bank. I wish I could have just gathered you up and brought you here and made all your banking problems go away. I truly hope that all your banking experiences in the future are happy ones!!!!!

  7. ChristieNY

    Oh Mir, having gone through name changes/bank account closings/etc, I’ve been commiserating with you, but today! Today you kicked some a$$ and did us all proud! :)

  8. becky

    wow, mir. you did well. i probably would have embarrassed myself or caused a scene. glad that you are finally done with the EVIL NATIONAL BANK.

  9. Suebob

    Did the evil bank rhyme with Tank of Schmerica? Because when Mr Stapler and I combined accounts, in Southern Calif, it took 2 weeks because he had opened the account in Nor Cal and they had to MAIL THE SIGNATURE CARD down to confirm that he was him…duh. Have these people never heard of computers?

  10. Jessica G.

    I am going to be Mir when I grow up.

  11. LuAnn

    *ahem* AMEN.

  12. Barb Cooper

    You know, this is a huge reason why I never changed my name when I married my current husband. Well, this and the fact that I was trying to do the George Costanza thing where you do everything exactly opposite of your intincts and have real success. Of course, I WRITE under my husband’s last name because I write about my children (and am paranoid) and I am the only Barb CanIbuyavowellastname in the United States. This makes the issue of getting paychecks AND cards from my MIL a real issue but I am equal to the challenge, and I don’t get that many paychecks anyway.

    You are just missing the “bless their hearts” to make a true Southern story.


  13. jean

    Just remember to keep doing your deep breathing exercises. It may take several months to know if everything is working. I’m so sorry you have to go thru this junk. I mean, you have enough strees already you don’t need mere.

  14. Zee

    Good grief. I can’t believe they made you wait 25 minutes to begin with. SHEESH. Can’t they get ANYTHING right?

    Congrats on your triumph! :)

  15. Tracey

    I was all “you go girl” right the way through, with the way you dealt with ‘smiling young man’ and the demands for more ID… And then your parting gesture with the teller?! That is a gold medal “Maximum Embarrassment Technique” performance. Mir, you rock! You are now my “Assertiveness” Idol. Whenever I find myself in a ‘poor customer service’ situation, I will mentally refer to this episode and it will give me the inspiration and ammunition I need to sock it to them.

  16. Cele

    Gosh I wish you would have been with me when Social Security decided I didn’t exist…despite the fact they taxed each and every paycheck during the time I suddenly wasn’t…

  17. Karen

    I had a big national bank close my business account for 3 months of inactivity. It was not bad enough no one paid their bill in 3 months, even my bank had to revolt against me! Then it took 2 months to get my money – from that account – back. Not to mention the bank charges which were allegedly free when I opened the account… I am bad mouthing them all over the world. I am a local credit union gal now.

  18. Judy.

    I’m with Karen… I have bank accounts, but I don’t like to use them. I LOVE my credit union!! And, Mir, you tell ’em! But, the next time (and with the way things go for you… there probably WILL be a next time… I’m sorry), after the final comment to end all comments, take a breath, smile and say, “Y’all have a real good day now, y’hear???” Then sashay off to the applause of millions.

  19. ri

    wow Im glad you got out of there. Banks here are not to bad compared to that..

  20. Leandra

    Girl, I’m definitely joining your army now. Sometimes I think banks forget that they are there to actually, you know, serve you. You can get free checking at just about all banks (supposedly, anyway) so banks need to differentiate themselves with excellent customer service. And as for the slow-as-Christmas teller, didn’t you want to just climb over the counter and say “Oh for pete’s sake. I’ll just do it myself!”

  21. Jenny

    When I was a poor college student, I had That Bank that I’m pretty sure you’re talking about freeze my account — without telling me — because they were suspicious of a large purchase. I found out about it when I went to fill a pretty necessary prescription and COULDN’T PAY FOR IT because MY ACCOUNT WAS FROZEN. So my debit card didn’t work and I couldn’t get any money out of an ATM, and it was 5:30 pm so all the branches were closed.

    The suspicious large purchase? My textbooks, purchased at the university bookstore, for the upcoming semester.

  22. Jenny

    Also, that is to say, good on you for giving them the shaft.

  23. LadyBug Crossing

    You go girl!!

    They thought you were some hick from up north who didn’t know squat… silly bankers…

  24. Divrchk

    Way back when you started this process, you did mention the Bank’s name, although it may have been in but I won’t spill the beans for you :-) We move all of the time but we use USAA and just do all banking through the mail. We also have a credit union account with Navy Federal and both institutions are just fantastic. Hopefully you got the third account straightened out at the New Small Bank.

  25. Linda Sherwood

    I hope the bank really did close your accounts. I attempted to close a bank account in January this year. I did it again in February. And again in March. And then last month, I received a three-month statement ($O-in-$O-out) for the closed account. But I’ve been assured it is closed. Really. Yeah, I believe it. Argh.

  26. Christina

    You are consumer advocate number 1!!! I am definately calling you the next time I need to know what to say.

  27. Megan

    Ha! Laziness vindicated! I’ve banked for years with my small, lovely Alaska credit union which, yes, does mean depositing checks by mail – but I love my Alaska credit union! I have fought a rear-guard action not to be guilted into getting a Big National Bank Account and now I can point ’em all to your blog and say nya nya nya!

  28. tori

    You rock! Thank goodness that is all over. Just a cautionary question…did you make sure they actually closed your accounts when they gave you all your money? I switched banks and they didn’t close the accounts, just gave me all my money, and then I was sent a bill months later because I was below the minimum at their bank. Of course I didn’t pay but it was a big ordeal to work it all out and get them to understand that once I left their bank, they were no longer able to charge me anything ever again. It seems like you have had enough bank issues for a lifetime, so just checking.

  29. Sharkey

    You know, that’s why they make those pen chains so short. So you can’t stab the employees.

  30. dad

    That’s my girl!
    And congratulations on getting out of the bank without spilling any blood. Now if you would just offer your services to the feds in dealing with Iraq (without actually having to go there).

  31. alice

    Yay! That’s a truly grand ending to a ridiculous series of circumstances. Free and clear and congratulations. Plus,wiht the whole cash back thing at stores (particularly Target), you probably won’t ever have to even deal with the out-of-town ATM fees, so you’re golden.

  32. Delton

    I like what Pop C said: “Did the Bank’s checks bounce?” After all that, I wouldn’t put it past them!

  33. Stephanie Chance

    Yes, I would have asked for cash.

  34. paige

    We had a very similar experience when we signed on with a Big National Bank That Everyone Uses.

    We decided to leave after they lost our mortgage payment and then wanted our house. Even though we had copied of the cashed check, a record of it on our bank statement and various other proofs that it was actually in their possession.

    After a real tussle that at one point devolved into me shrieking, calling our lawyer from the bank office and then calling the local paper in front of the bank manager, we got our money. We took it back to the local bank. Since then we’ve switched to another local bank that has now been swallowed by a Big National Bank. I’m wary but so far it’s all been ok and we even get calls from time to time at home asking if everything’s ok and how customer service is treating us.

    I guess they heard about me calling the paper. So far, so good, though.

  35. Aimee

    Mir 2007: Kickin’ Ass and Takin’ Names.

  36. Pendullum

    I bow down…

  37. Jane

    I love my credit union with a burning passion and you have reminded me why. Way to go with the evil bank! Better luck with the next one.

  38. Ani

    I second the “make sure the accounts are really closed” posters. My *&^$# “formerly nice local, now bought out by the big boys” bank accepted a direct deposit 8 WEEKS after the account had been closed. And it was heck to get the money back.

    Now we’re with a lovely smallish regional bank.

  39. AmyM

    Wow! I just stumbled upon this blog today, but damn! You’re already my new BFF!

  40. Erin

    I always say stuff like that too, when I am pushed past my limits. Of course I say it all in my head–but I still say it really loud! You are my hero! We are also with a small bank and have loved it (after the first two national banks kept screwing with our accounts-much the same as you.) Good luck!

  41. Pave.Gurl

    It’s not just you that hates them.

    I spent 10 years in finance, and they are pretty roundly loathed. I miss small banks, but I travel too much to do a local deal. *sighs*

  42. meritt

    Mmmm… I loved this post.

    I look forward to the day when I can take my very last step into the cowboy bank and withdraw every last penny of my money from them as well. ;)

  43. MitMoi

    You do NOT have to pay ATM fees. When you need cash, go to a store. Buy something … like gum, pay with ATM card – and get CASH BACK.

    -NO CHARGES, just lovely cash-

    I bank with a CU in Calif. I live in NC. I will never give up my CU. They also accept electronic deposit of my TN paychecks!

    They even call me when it’s time for a new ATM or Credit Card and want to know “which hotel do you want us to FED-EX it too”, because they know how much I travel … and that sometimes I don’t arrive home until AFTER the expiration date on the current card.

  44. Lynda

    I wish I could be you…I would have gotten so angry that I would have been shaking and probably would have started crying, even though I feel like I am pretty tough. Anyway, you are my new hero. I just wish we lived in Georgia, I would be your friend, as long as you didn’t make me eat sushi.

  45. Marie

    Mir, I think you are pretty. you are my hero 7 you make me laugh. Hope you went home & had a drink after all that.

  46. Amy-Go

    I can’t comment. I’m too busy ROFLMAO.

  47. Jodi

    Lordy, that makes me want to drink some iced tea and lie down.

  48. Chuck

    You know, I used to belong to a national credit union that I had several issues with, so I switched to a large local bank when I was living in Wisconsin. I was happy with their service so I’ve stayed with them even after I moved to Texas. Why mess with success? Of course, the no local ATM thing is a slight hassle, but I’ll put up with it for a bank that treats me well and I’ve had no problems with. Good job giving the manager a nice talking to. I hope I’m as convincing as you are when I cancel my T-Mobile service next month.

  49. Missy

    Let me guess. Bank of America.
    Worked there for 5 years. Oh the stories I could tell. ….


  50. Angel

    YOU ROCK. I wish my brain could come up with half of your witty banter when faced with idiots.

  51. Co

    I hope after you left the bank you did a party dance and then sat down and ate a box of cookies. Oh, cookies. With chocolate. If anyone deserves them, you do.

  52. Kim

    I am glad you got the banking fiasco corrected. I am so happy that I bank with our hometown southern bank and they are so nice.

  53. Jenifer


    My God girl, you were one tough cookie, good for you!

    I am beginning to put cable companies in the same category, I have been told 3 different things by 3 different people in their “tech support” **snort** dept in 2 days… we’ll see how tomorrow’s installation goes. I may have my own saga to tell!

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