At My Bank, NSF = Non-Sufficient Friendliness
I've had a checking account at a Compass Bank branch since November 2004. The branch's staff have always been rather cold and indifferent (except for a young puppy named Christopher). But I never had any real problems until this May.
Then I ran afoul of a classic bank trick: post debits before deposits on the same day, and ding the customer for multiple "Non-Sufficient Funds" fees (at $36 each!) on trifling debit card transactions. Four debits totalling less than $10 resulted in $144 worth of NSF fees.
I regularly pass a different Compass branch. I got in the habit of making my deposits there, and found the staff much more congenial. So I thought I might have better luck negotiating my way out of these NSF fees in there. I was right.
J.R., the branch manager, sat me down in his office and fetched me coffee. Then he did the dialing and holding to talk to my branch. The customer service manager there would only "forgive" one NSF fee as a "one-time courtesy." I pointed out that none of the debits would have bounced if the damned deposit had been credited first. J.R. went up the chain of command for me -- and I wasn't even his customer! We got another NSF fee "forgiven," but that was the best he could do. It was a lot more than "my" branch did.
So I opened a new account at J.R.'s branch before I left.
Last Friday, on my way to the pool hall, I took a four-figure check to my old branch, intending to deposit it in my new account at J.R.'s branch. The check was from a well-known publishing firm. I had deposited about 25 of this firm's checks in my old Compass account since I opened it, and the funds were always available the following business day. But not this time.
"I'm sorry, sir," said the drive-up teller, "I'm going to have to place an 11-day hold on this item."
That was a problem, since I'd mailed two hefty checks on my way to the drive-up window.
So I took my deposit back and went inside to speak with the branch manager, whose name and face had changed since I last saw him.
"Rodney" told me 11-day holds were standard on out-of-state checks. I told him to check my account history and he would find that he was wrong, at least in my case. His branch had credited a deposit from the same firm overnight, just four weeks ago.
Then Rodney said it was because my account (at J.R.'s branch) was new. I said no problem, let's deposit it in my old account at this branch and post it tomorrow, just like we've done for nearly two years.
Rodney said whoever had been doing that -- "and I'm gonna find out who it is" -- shouldn't have, and he would have to treat me the same as anyone else from now.
"So you intend to treat a well-established customer the same as any stranger who walks in off the street today?" I asked him.
"Now I didn't say that. Don't go twisting my words," he replied.
I really wanted to twist something else of his, but I moved on.
I asked Rodney to call J.R., my new branch manager, and see if he would accommodate me. So Rodney called J.R.'s office and cell phone, but got only voicemail. I told Rodney I had to go but I'd call him in an hour. I left my check and deposit slip on his desk.
Ninety minutes and three phone calls later, I got Rodney on the phone.
"J.R. wouldn't do it, either," he said.
So I returned to Rodney's branch and picked up my deposit.
Monday morning, I drove down to J.R.'s branch and explained the whole thing to him.
"So, you've deposited checks from this firm before?" he asked.
"About 12 checks worth over $20,000 in the past year, and there's never been a problem with any of them," I replied.
J.R. clicks his mouse and keyboard for a few seconds, and pulls up an image of the last such check I'd deposited, four weeks ago.
"Well, since this is the same outfit and that check cleared, there's no problem with posting this one to your account overnight," he said. "Rodney didn't tell me about that part."
"Thank you, J.R.," I beamed.
J.R. had even filled out the deposit slip and left me sitting comfily in his office while he made the deposit. When he returned with my receipt, I just had to ask him: "How come you're such a nice, helpful guy and Rodney's such a dick?"
"Now there's one more favor you can do for me," I said, "if you don't mind...."
"Can you close my account at Rodney's branch from here?"
"Oh, sure!" It was done in five seconds.
"I really appreciate you, J.R."
I really despise you, Rodney.
The author of this entry prefers to remain anonymous.