You get what you pay for

Again I’ve changed banks! After eighteen months with President’s Choice Financial, they’ve again driven me away because of the way they server their customers. Let me give you a brief recap:

I signed up with President’s Choice Financial in 1999.¬†They managed to mangle some transations, including my pay deposit, to such a degree that I could not pay my rent on time one month. This was only the last in a series of screw ups on their part, but serious enough that I left them in 2000.

In 2003 I decided that I had better close my PCF account. I was told that despite there being an $81 deficit, it was already been closed. “Do you want me to pay the $81?” I asked. To my surprise, I was told that the account was closed, as was the episode. I was told not to worry about it. Strange that a bank wouldn’t even ask for money it’s owed, much less refuse it when offered!

In March of 2007 I again opened a PCF account. I was on a savings kick and the lure of no service charges was too great. I also thought that they would have ironed out the bone-headed problems I experienced in the seven years since I had left.

In September of this year, I asked PCF about credit options to consolidate my debts. To the agent’s great surprise, he couldn’t even check my credit rating. After some investigation, he discovered there was a hold on my account because of the $81 debt I left them with. I made arrangements to have them withdraw this amount from my account and clear the hold.

The money was withdrawn and I called two days later to confirm that the hold was cleared. It was not cleared. I was told to call again the week after. Again it was not cleared.

I was stalled and told to call back again a total of four times over a period of as many weeks.

The final time, I didn’t call back the next week. Instead, I opened a new account at another bank. Two weeks later, purely out of curiosity, I called PCF. The hold had indeed been lifted. Too late!

My last automatic bill payment will come out of my PCF account next week, and I will then close it. The end.

PCF does indeed fill a need. As far as I can tell, that need is for customers with very simple banking requirements. Deposits, withdrawals, and cheques. Get any more complicated and things start to go wrong, and you have to wait a very long time to make them right. With my working very hard toward paying down my debt, I want to make my money work more efficiently so I have questions and I investigate various banking and credit options. PCF is no good for this. The monthly service fee I now pay assures me that when I need service, I will get it. I won’t be told to call back next week by a phone-jockey with a call quota. The cause of a problem won’t be described as, “I don’t know, call back next week and it should be straightened out.”

I now have a single person I deal with. I have her direct phone number and e-mail address. If she needs to look something up, she will take ownership of the issue and contact me when she has the information I need. My experience has taught me that the service charge (as ridiculous as it is) is worth paying to avoid a bank run like a call centre. I’m dealing with people who really know their stuff, and can get things done on their own.

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