Saturday, July 17, 2010

Giving Mr. $mall a Little From the Kitty

TYPICALLY, I avoid going into the bank, especially in New York. Far too/too/too many of the tellers don't possess fully evolved good customer service skills. Are you listening Bank of America (East 79th street/Lexington avenue)?

Anywho, I was forced into the bank yesterday – Chase, not BoA, or as Bill Maher is derisively fond of saying, Skank of America. I received in the post at home instead of my post office box one of those letters that banks have been sending lately, warning customers that they will lose their overdraft protection unless they notify the bank otherwise.

Out of sheer necessity, with closed eyes/clinched teeth, I stopped by Chase. While the people at the Chase branch nearest me (79th street/York avenue) are evolved individuals, I still did not want to deal with them. Akeel W., my “regular” banker was off. Christina R., who I’d never clapped eyes on, was not. I was displeased, but there was no turning back.

My sense of self-preservation was stronger than my urge to retreat. I wanted to keep my overdraft protection, not that I really avail myself of it. It's like car insurance, you understand. It was also my intention to confirm that Chase did have my post office box address and would not be sending future mail to my physical address. And there was also that matter of a few inexplicable fees.

What a pleasant surprise!

My dealings with CR, who is from one of those Hudson River Valley towns, reminded me of the Chase personnel at a branch in my North Louisiana hometown. What wonderful Chase memories from early in the year when I was home to see to my ailing ma ma! The first time I entered the branch three people – count them – three had said “Hello, may I help you” before the door closed behind me. On several occasions I received excellent care, including the removal of an inadvertent $34 overdraft protection fee.

For more than two hours, CR practically held my hand and catered to my every need, calming my frayed nerves. I didn’t mind at all that I arrived home well after the lunch hour and far too late for my weekday guilty pleasure, “The Young and the Restless.” CR made eye contact. She spoke above a grunt. She was actually interested in my life or did a darn fine job of pretending to be. CR asked probing questions and listened with sincere interest as I told her about VEVLYN’S PEN and some of my work, including basic fact-checking, as well as meeting/chatting/rubbing shoulders with Oscar-nominated actresses, Oscar-winning actors and presidents of major luxury-brand conglomerates.

This eager young lady took care of each one of my little issues, including my fees, all the while plying me with helpful hints about how to best use my ATM card to avoid future unwanted fees. Encouraging me to see the branch’s business banker once I open my business account, she informed me that Chase is lending money to small businesses. This is news. Weekdays when I’m home, I toggle between Bloomberg and MSNBC. Most heads-talking squawk incessantly about how banks are sitting on a few trillion dollars, too greedy and too stingy to part with even a rusty nickel for businesses small – the so-called engine of the U.S. economy.

Indeed, near universal blame is being laid at the feet of U.S. banks for hampering the nation’s (and the world’s) desperately needed economic recovery. Some of these misers – once thought too big to fail – even benefited from the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). According to CR, Chase (not a TARPee) has set aside $10 billion for small business. It’s a pittance when one considers what’s needed. Yet, ‘tis a start ...

Through the pride of the Hudson River Valley, my faith in at least one bank is being slowly restored. Next time, I won’t visit my local branch with so much trepidation.

Learn more about what Chase offers small business and little people at or visit your local branch.

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VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
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