An open letter to Bank of America

Dave Gray

Hello Bank of America. I’ve been a customer for a long time. Since 1993 in fact, when I first moved to St. Louis. In those days online banking wasn’t a real viable option. I actually opened an account at Boatmen’s Bank at that time, but you acquired them sometime later and my account was absorbed like many others.

I sent this note to you via one of your forms in your online banking app, but I have no confidence it will result in any meaningful change. Why do I say this? Let me count the reasons.

1. Communication. I used to be able to send you an email via my banking app but you shut off that option. Now my only option is to call and wait on hold. The hold times are quite long and inconvenient with many voice prompts that never seem to fit the categories I want to talk about. And I’m tired of talking with your AI robots. I can’t even schedule time for a call like I can in most business relationships. No, I have to wait for you like I’m in a doctors office. I don’t have that kind of time.

2. Automation. Speaking of AI robots, you’re making it harder and harder for me to contact a real person. That’s fine if you can provide a rich personalized online experience like Amazon. But you don’t. It’s very clear to me that online banking is really more about your convenience than mine. Which brings me to my next point.

Online experience. It sucks. And I think I know why. Great UX design and great software requires good people, and they are getting expensive. You’re too cheap to hire them, and it shows in the product. I know. Developer salaries are astronomical. That’s because they’re worth it. I may be wrong about this. You may have EXCELLENT developers who are constrained by your unenlightened management. God knows I’ve had plenty of experiences where good people who work for you had zero power to help me, even though they wanted to. I’ve seen that many times. At any rate, your online experience is not keeping up. You’re falling further and further behind.

Security. In a world of identity theft and information threats, I want a bank that will work with me to identify threats and mitigate them. I’ve lost track of the number of times you’ve issued me a new card because of a security breach by an “undisclosed party.” I have lost track of the number of times I’ve been required to reset my password. I suspect the undisclosed party is you, but I’ll never know because you don’t tell me. How does this help security? I trust Amazon’s security a thousand times more than yours.

Convenience. I’ve also lost track of the times my card was declined for no good reason. Today I tried to buy a kindle book on Amazon. I do this A LOT. Anybody who knows me knows this. Why was my credit declined? I don’t know. And I don’t expect to find out, because I don’t trust you to tell me what I need to know. You’re too busy covering your own ass. Yeah, I know. You care about me. I hear that from you a lot. Like this morning when I tried to send you this note with zero stars. I couldn’t submit a zero star review because YOU CARE WHAT I THINK! One star is too generous for you but I gave it to you in order to get you to read my note. Oh the irony.

Viability. I need a bank that will be around for the long haul. When I look at the pace of your improvement, and your approach to customers, it’s clear to me that it’s only a matter of time before you’re disrupted by a bank that truly sees customers as an asset worth building a relationship,with, the way Amazon has treated during about the same time period.

Loyalty. I’m loyal. Boy am I loyal. I stuck with you since 1993. But you’re abusing that privilege. I’m sticking with Amazon and can’t wait till they decide to get into banking, which I hope they will. I feel the same way about PayPal. I feel loyal to TD Ameritrade. They do a great job. I have a personal private investment consultant there who emails me and answers the phone when I call. It’s true that TD has a lot more of my money. They have my stock portfolio which dwarfs my bank account.

I went to TD even though I was already a Bank of America customer. I could have put all that money into Merrill Lynch. You’ve definitely tried to get your hands on that money. You’ve seen the money transfers going through my bank account and offered this service to me many times. But why should I double down with you when you treat me like you do? When I started my business you wouldn’t take a gamble on me so I had to find another bank for my line of credit. A business bank that was willing to work with me. Shout out to the gang at the Business Bank of St. Louis which was acquired by Stifel bank. Great job, thanks for your help! So when my ship did eventually come in, the last place that money was going was to you.

Loyalty makes sense in a trusted relationship where you feel valued. I like that feeling. But I need to feel valued. And right now I don’t.

I’ve tried for years to tell you these thing privately, to no avail. I don’t think you care about me. So I’m sharing my pain with the world.

Somebody, please, banking needs to enter the 21st century. I have high hopes for #Fintech (Financial technology). If you’ve found that perfect online bank, or if you’re in #fintech and know about new offerings and developments in this area, please leave your banking recommendations in the comments.

I’m shopping!

Update: This note was triggered by frustration this morning at my card being declined and I just figured out why. I’m a few days late paying my credit card bill. I didn’t get any notifications. They just shut my card off. After 25 years, this is my bank’s level of regard for me.

Dave Gray

Written by

Dave Gray

Founder, XPLANE. Author, The Connected Company and Gamestorming http://xplaner.com

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