"At U.S. Bank, your feedback shapes what we do..."
So begins an email which, frankly, does not jibe with this writer's experience. As a barely employed teenager with hundreds of dollars to his name, U.S. Bank extended your correspondent a $3,000-a-month line of credit. (The bank teller literally frowned as this information flashed onto his screen.) The interest rate on this credit was quite high.
This did not end well. The correspondent's mother eventually became involved, and had to 1) offer a settlement, and 2) offer some advice about preying on young people who don't know any better.
Surely, that'd be the last time U.S. Bank was a dick to one of its customers.
Reader: It wasn't.
A few years later this writer was pretty poor, in between jobs and a college student, and had, on a few occasions, been hit with an "overdraft" fee by U.S. Bank. Attempts were made to convince the bank that if a bank account had insufficient funds, the ATM should simply decline the transaction, rather than 1) giving the money requested and 2) charging an extra $35 for an overdraft.
Bankers asked about this were nonplussed. If you want to avoid overdrafts, they suggested, why don't you just open up a protective line of credit with us? They were asked if they were serious, given this writer's quite recent history of running up debt with that very bank. They were serious.
Some subsequent overdraft charges were forgiven. Others were paid.
Mine was, clearly, not a unique case.
These experiences in mind, it's rich to read this email from U.S. Bank asking if its customers want to join the "Idea Exchange," a ... thing, of some sorts, which they're trying out. Suckers who bank with this company are invited to volunteer for a "small, online advisory group... of individuals who are interested in managing their financial well-being."
Dear U.S. Bank: Do you think you have any account holders who... aren't interested in managing their financial well-being? You've got $462 billion in assets under management, and better believe everyone whose money you're holding is "interested" in "managing" it so that it either grows, or doesn't go away -- or doesn't somehow, perversely, wind up costing them money when they're hit with a fee.
One reason to join the "Idea Exchange," which U.S. Bank has chosen to write out in bold lettering (at present, City Pages' stylebook disagrees!), is you get free shit from (wait for it!) Amazon. Here are four other reasons.
• Collaboration: Partner with other people just like you
• Knowledge: Exchange news, opinions & insights
• Influence: U.S. Bank executives will listen to your needs & ideas
• Innovation: Inspire the creation of new resources & services
Dear fucking God. Can you think of a less worthy cause than spending your time trading thoughts with other people who happen to have holdings at your same bank... all in exchange for "e-certificates" purchased from the wealthiest "man" in modern history? We can't.
We took the survey to see if we could "qualify" for the "Idea Exchange." Here are a few of the questions asked.
What year were you born?
Including personal, business, and education, how many email accounts have you checked in the past week?
What is the value of your household's total investable assets?
Just what these were supposed to establish was unclear. For the record, I'm 32, have two email accounts, and at present, don't have a ton of money to throw around. My application was rejected, though I was thanked for my "time" and "desire."
I'd say I'm disappointed in U.S. Bank shooting down my attempt to give them "ideas," but in truth, I've been disappointed in U.S. Bank for more than a dozen years.
Here are some fun things reported about U.S. Bank recently, about which you might have an idea you'd want to offer the bank.
1.) This ("Wells Fargo, TCF, U.S. Bank charge highest college student fees, federal report says")
2.) this ("James Chosy detailed how he has reshaped his legal department... He has added some 34 lawyers in the past 18 months to keep pace with changing business needs, he said.")
3.) this ("We could probably think of better representatives to promote the city of Minneapolis -- those petty crime pot dealers on Nicollet Mall, for example -- but alas, today, it's U.S. Bank.")
4.) this (“We believe that tax reform is positive for the U.S. economy because it provides an immediate opportunity to benefit employees, communities and customers,” Andy Cecere, chief executive of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, said in a statement.)
5.) this ("In a new lawsuit, the NCUA claimed U.S. Bank and Bank of America unlawfully withdrew money from residential mortgage-backed securities trust funds to pay for their legal costs from court cases following the subprime mortgage debacle that triggered the 2008 financial crisis and led to the demise of several corporate credit unions.")
6.) this ("The charges stem from the bank's relationship with Tucker, who along with a partner illegally extracted high interest rates from borrowers, some rates as high as 1,000 percent, according to an indictment in the case. Tucker's payday loan operations 'exploited over four and a half million working people … struggling to pay living expenses,' the indictment charged.)
Oh, and! Worst of all: Their online banking never works on a laptop.
Bang-up job, bankers. Enjoy the free "exchange" of "ideas," which you should've already had with your customers to begin with if you gave any fucks about their well-being, which, obviously, you do not.
Please use the comments section to recommend decent credit unions; thank you in advance.