Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Banks! (Another non RVing Post)

Chipmunk & Peanuts

I have some advice for all of you.  DO NOT LET YOUR BANK BE SOLD!!! 

While I can't really do anything about it, my bank that I've been using for the last 25 years has decided to get out of upstate NY.  Since there isn't a branch of the new bank they sold their accounts to in Oswego, the new one with my checking & savings accounts will be in the same building with the same people as the old bank. So far, so good.

While they announced the sale almost a year ago, everything went on hold while the FTC or who ever deals with what bank can be in what part of the country decided if the deal could go through. Unfortunately, they just announced that the actual change will take place in mid May when I will be at least 2000 miles away.

1st interesting point - they sold the checking & savings accounts to one bank & the Credit Cards to another so discussing any problems means dealing with 3 banks. The next interesting problem - all current credit cards, debit cards & terminal access cards will stop working as of May 20th, as will on line access to the accounts.  Even my "high interest" (insert laughter here) on line savings account which is only indirectly connected to the old bank (I have to use the ATM to make deposits or withdrawals, not a teller) will be transferred to the new bank.

According to the old bank, no problem; the new banks will send new cards well prior to that date which can be activated after the 18th.  Since the cards must be activated before use (from your home phone) it is a bit of a problem for me.  They also announced that any automatic deposits, withdrawals  will probably stop working and on line bill paying will definitely stop working on the 20th. Since I have my retirement funds electronically deposited & pay all my bills with on line bill paying, that is going to be a problem.

Even if I could figure out where I'd be for long enough to give them an address & wait for mail, they will not send cards to a post office general delivery, so there is no practical way for me to get the new cards. The new bank is fairly local - branches in NY & PA only, so out west I don't have the ability to visit a branch.

The old bank says that's an interesting problem - talk to the new bank; the new banks say they don't have much information from the old bank so they don't know yet how smoothly the transfer will take place. They do assure me that they won't lose any of my money, however I may not be able to access any of it until I return in September.

My rather ridiculous solution is to open new accounts at a branch of the new bank located in a near by town, apply for new credit cards with the new branch, re enter all the on line bill paying information, change all the automatic payments & withdrawals to the new accounts (hoping that I remember all of them, particularly the ones I only pay every 6 months or once a year), transfer enough money to cover the expenses of the trip to the new accounts (in case I can't access the on line savings account after the 20th), & hope that when I get back I can deal with all the duplicate accounts.  My current bank tells me there will be no problem letting the replacement credit cards that will be mailed to me by May 18th sit unactivated until I get back in September. I wonder what effect all the new cards & accounts will have on my credit score?

At least the people at the new bank have been great.  Not much they can do about the unknowns, but they have been more than helpful setting up things in the short time I have before I leave. The District Manager says she can solve any problems that crop up over the phone - sure hope so!

All this makes you think about how "convenient" electronic banking has become.  Sure, you can pay bills from any place you can access the internet, withdraw money anywhere in the country, or world for that matter, but making a change sure is a lot of work!

Till next time!


  1. Hi Joe
    Are there branches of other banks where you live? Why not just switch to a new unrelated bank and be done with it? Sounds like you'd be doing the re-setting up of pre-authorized payments etc anyways. I don't know if you feel some loyalty to those folks from your original bank --- you don't owe them anything. Look at all the banks around and see which is the best for you now.

    As an aside, I find it amazing that people have such 'loyalty' to their banks yet those banks will gladly take advantage of that loyalty. My father lives in a small town of about 600 residents. He has banked at the same bank for decades and until recently felt they deserved his loyalty. What changed was he was the executor of an old lady's estate. He was surprised to find she had about $100,000 in an account that paid no interest. He took that surprise to the manager who he had known & trusted for years to ask why the bank hadn't advised the senior that there were better options for her money. (In a town of six hundred you can bet the bank was well aware of her situation). His response was that the bank will help customers if asked, but to remember the bank is in business to make money. In other words, they'll screw the customers if they can get away with it. Sad but a eye opener.

    Good luck sorting out your banking and thanks for your blog. I appreciate your efforts.

    Regards, Ross

  2. Sorry Jon -- for calling you Joe!

  3. It's not so much loyalty, although I have to admit I've been working with many of the same people for years - it is more that I'm not all that happy with the other banks in town.

    I do belong to a credit union but they still don't have on line bill paying, something I really need.

    Anyway, the deed is done. I have my new accounts, they work, and I'm ready to go!