I miss the free toasters.

A short, relatively restrained rant about banks:

Our bank was recently swallowed by another bank. Yay, invisible hand of the market, which punished our previous bank’s bad business practices with death. Now we have a new, better bank. Theoretically.

Of course, the last bank was a swallower too, once upon a time. I moved to Fort Wayne in 1984, back when a bank was a bank, rewarded you for your business and generally followed the rules of an ordered universe. I was new in town, invited to dinner at a new friend’s house.

“I’m looking for a bank,” I said.

“I go to Fort Wayne National,” he said.


Fort Wayne National’s marketing slogan at the time was, “That’s my bank.” Simplicity itself. All I really cared about was whether they had a lot of ATMs, and whether any were near my home and office. They were. I stayed with them until they were sold to National Spitty (name cleverly disguised to fool some PR agency’s Google alerts), and had the sort of relationship you have with a bank in those days — they kept my money, sold me traveler’s checks before I hit the road, exchanged U.S. dollars for Canadian before our annual theater trip.

The problem came when we moved here. There were National Spitty banks in reasonably convenient locations, and although Indiana’s unique banking laws (i.e., rooted in the 12th century) required us to open new accounts in Michigan, we stayed with them. Why? Because when you’re a Midwesterner, you plod through your life like a mule down a furrow, that’s why. Because we’d been NatSpit customers for years.

Not long afterward, I deposited several thousand dollars in miscellaneous checks at an ATM at the closest location (in Detroit), went about my financial business and, a few days later, received a sheaf of overdraft notices, at $30 per. I called the branch where I’d deposited them and asked what the hell. The manager treated me the way she might treat a panhandling bum, only with less charm. I might be committing check fraud, she said, so she’d held the funds for 10 business days. Who were these payers, anyway, these obscure businesses like “The Detroit News” and “Hearst Publications.” Anyway, I was a new customer. I fit the profile of a sleazebag fraud artist to a T.

“I’ve been a National Spitty customer for 15 years!” I said.

I called the other National Spitty branch nearby, the one in Grosse Pointe Farms. The woman on the phone said, “Oh, you NEVER want to do business in Detroit if you can avoid it. Deposit your checks here, I handle the ATM, and I’ll credit you right away.”

Yes, they actually tell you that here. It’s like Eddie Murphy’s Mr. White sketch, only (Psycho violins) …real.

So things have been bumping along with NatSpit, and over time I realized, like all Americans, that banking had slipped beneath the waves, insofar as customer relations go. My relationship with the people who facilitate my bill-paying and otherwise spare me the hassle of keeping my cash buried in the back yard is cordial enough, but there’s no part of the experience I’d describe as pleasant. In fact, one of the things I generally liked about NatSpit was the way they made it easy for me not to interact with them, by keeping their online service fairly robust. Woe betide if things didn’t go well, however — reaching a human being, at least one with the power to make anything right, was nearly impossible.

(I did visit the Detroit branch where they’d held my checks, once. It resembled nothing so much as a ghetto liquor store, the tellers behind inch-thick bulletproof plexiglass. No wonder they were so testy.)

Long story short, now we’re with another goddamn bank, and already I hate them. They changed all my account numbers and sent me a new debit card, screwing up my gym membership, which is automatically debited. And we discovered a new wrinkle: Unlike National Spitty, which allowed you to transfer money between accounts online and access the funds from the receiving account immediately, ThreeCapitalLetters Bank does not. At least not if it’s a weekend. If you dare to move your money — YOUR OWN MONEY, which I feel the need to add in caps — on a Saturday, you can’t spend it from the receiving account until MONDAY NIGHT. The woman on the phone didn’t even feel the need to apologize for this. Screw you, sucker, we know you’re not going to take your business elsewhere. What, and redo all your direct-deposit arrangements and go through this hassle again? Besides, every other bank in town is going to give you the same deal. Why? Because we can. Have a nice day, and go get your fuckin’ shine box.

Oh, why bother with this? You all have your own tales of pain and woe, if not with banks, then with health insurance companies, mortgage holders or whomever. Here’s what amuses me most about them — how, in our allegedly perfect market-based system, our customer experience should be improving year to year. In some ways, it has, although I credit technology (the ATM) more than management. But mostly, banking — and many other allegedly service-based businesses — has only become more Soviet with time, more monolithic, less sensitive to customer complaint, more frustrating to deal with. Yes, I enjoy checking my balance online or over the phone. No, I don’t like being nickel-and-dimed — or ten-dollared and thirty-dollared — to death over every little thing.

But hey! It’s a holiday weekend! Let’s change the mood:

In the minutes after a cascade of gas explosions crippled the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, confusion reigned on the drilling platform. Flames were spreading rapidly, power was out, and terrified workers were leaping into the dark, oil-coated sea. Capt. Curt Kuchta, the vessel’s commander, huddled on the bridge with about 10 other managers and crew members.

Andrea Fleytas, a 23-year-old worker who helped operate the rig’s sophisticated navigation machinery, suddenly noticed a glaring oversight: No one had issued a distress signal to the outside world, she recalls in an interview. Ms. Fleytas grabbed the radio and began calling over a signal monitored by the Coast Guard and other vessels.

“Mayday, Mayday. This is Deepwater Horizon. We have an uncontrollable fire.”

When Capt. Kuchta realized what she had done, he reprimanded her, she says.

“I didn’t give you authority to do that,” he said, according to Ms. Fleytas, who says she responded: “I’m sorry.”

OK, sorry. Here’s something else, genuinely interesting. The death of the one-word exam at All Soul’s College, Oxford:

The exam was simple yet devilish, consisting of a single noun (“water,” for instance, or “bias”) that applicants had three hours somehow to spin into a coherent essay. An admissions requirement for All Souls College here, it was meant to test intellectual agility, but sometimes seemed to test only the ability to sound brilliant while saying not much of anything.

This is the sort of thing that would have terrified me at 19, but today I think I’d totally ace. What is blogging, if not a daily essay with a one-word prompt? (“Banking.”) However, what I find most interesting about this story is the glimpse at how they arrange things at Oxford. One of my former colleagues’ girlfriends was a Rhodes Scholar, and enrolled at New College. Punchline: Founded in 1379. Those Brits. Such a sense of humor.

The best single line from a “Sex and the City 2” pan (and this, friends, is a crowded field): “…essentially a home video of gay men playing with giant Barbie dolls.” Respect to Lindy West, The Stranger.

And with that, I guess it’s time to start the weekend. Have a good long one. I intend to get outdoors. You?

Posted at 9:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

52 responses to “I miss the free toasters.”

  1. Julie Robinson said on May 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Two words: credit union.

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  2. MaryO said on May 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Banking: That’s why I bank at a credit union. It just feels better than, say, the MegaBank that used to have funny ads on TV that recently swallowed the hometown bank through which we got our mortgage 20 years ago.

    Improper Mayday: Remember one of The Wire’s watchwords: Chain. Of. Command. It’s a killer, in more ways than one. OK, that was three words.

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  3. Jeff Borden said on May 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I don’t know about the bank you are using, but I’ve had plenty of run-ins with the bank whose first word rhymes with Face and whose second name is the big island on which the Empire State Building is located.

    Generally, a trip to the local neighborhood branch will get you someplace. I was furious over an array of fees I found on my statement, so I marched over and asked the teller to write me a check for all my funds so I could move them to another bank. Within moments, I was seated in a manager’s office, sipping a cup of hot coffee, while he went through my account and purged all the charges. I received a vague explanation for some of them –I’m only allowed to use an ATM to take money out of my savings account a certain number of times before a fee is charged, but can tap my checking account endlessly– and profuse apologies.

    I’ve done this roughly every 18 to 24 months, because the fees and charges keep getting added to my accounts, but I have found some limited success.

    As banks have consolidated, they have found no reason to engage in modest customer service to the proletariat. Most of us can choose a small, community bank –there is one at the end of my street that caters to small businesses and home buyers– but the downside is a lack of ATM locations, which means an extra charge for every transaction.

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  4. brian stouder said on May 28, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I intend to get out­doors. You? If my head-cold/chest-cold doesn’t kill me, I’ll be outdoors all weekend, too (spreading germs like a field full of fluffy dandelions on a blustery day).

    The thing about banks, etcetera, that always irritates me is “heads we win, tails you lose” dynamic. All these computers and software programs and so on only ever seem to work against us, and not for us. The NatSpit computer “knew” you, yes? And yet, go to a particular branch, and their computer says “go to hell”. How can this be justified?

    As for our ongoing planetary catastrophe, this morning a friend forwarded a “CNN BREAKING NEWS” email, which said that one of the vastly over-paid jerks who runs BP (Hayward), who had previously said the environmental impact on Gulf of Mexico would be “modest”, upgraded his assessment Friday to an “environmental catastrophe.”


    “Breaking News”?

    If this “Breaking News” wasn’t heartbreakingly ridiculous, it would be subpar black comedy.

    We’ve seen a few high-profile firings/resignations from government posts; how long before some of these environmental stewards at BP or Haliburton or Transocean get fired?

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  5. jdg said on May 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

    My favorite branch of my own bank. . .Slowmerica?. . .along Fort Street in Detroit has a series of several bulletproof doors that you physically can’t get through until you have been looked over and had concentrations of metal detected. I think Mercury astronauts returned to earth and went through less scrutiny coming out of their spacecraft than I go through in order to cash a freelance check.

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  6. Jason T. said on May 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Once upon a time, I used to be with a little savings and loan with about six offices in old Mon Valley mill towns.

    It was like banking with George Bailey. When I was in college, I got my checking account all screwed up, and an assistant manager patiently sat there and taught me how to balance it.

    Then, the board of directors decided they wanted to turn the savings and loan into a publicly traded corporation. Well. You can guess what happened next. They were acquired by a big holding company and merged into another bank. Fees went up. The old branches closed.

    I got disgusted. I asked a friend (an executive who was nearing retirement at a large Pittsburgh bank) if I should move my accounts to his institution. “No,” he said, “you ought to join a credit union.”

    So, I’m with a little one office credit union now. I can pay bills online or over the phone, just like NatSpitty or ThreeCapitalLetters Bank. I can also use any other credit union’s ATM for free.

    I also have a savings account with a little one-office community bank in a neighboring town. They have online banking, too.

    You should look around the Pointe and see if you have a similar little one-horse bank or credit union. You might be surprised at the quality of service, and the amenities they offer.

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  7. george.w said on May 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

    The credit union where I work – nice people, good service, they’re lookin’ out for you. I have completely given up on the megabanks.

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  8. Colleen said on May 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

    We bank with You Ess A A, and they rock my socks. They only have something like two branches in the country, and specialize in working with the military, so they have excellent online/phone services. We can even deposit checks via iPhone. I haven’t been in a brick and mortar bank in 15 years or more.

    My parents once banked with Plincoln. Then Plincoln was taken over by Norfest, and something similar to your experience happened to them. I believe a Scathing Letter was written, which garnered an apologetic call from a muckity muck. Parents bank with You Ess A A now too.

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  9. Hattie said on May 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    In Seattle, I grabbed a free copy of The Stranger and read that Barbie Doll quote. Sex and the City 2 is great snark bait, I think.
    Yes, we can all look on the bright side these days. Things are looking up. Turn that frown upside down.

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  10. Deborah said on May 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    If you really want to get your blood roiling about banks, Roger Ebert had a great post about Wall Street, about a documentary called “Inside Job”: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/05/i_am_but_a_naive.html

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  11. alex said on May 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I pulled my business from the one that rhymes with Face after it gobbled up the last of a succession of banks that had gobbled up First National Skank of Chicago. At First Skank, even though it was big the service used to be superb. ATM gobble your card? No problemo, we’ll issue you a new one here and now and let you assign whatever the hell PIN you like.

    At Face it seemed they were always finding new justifications for looting my account, and finally I decided I’d had enough. I opened a new account at the local bank that now occupies the Plincoln Tower and moved my direct deposit and haven’t regretted it one bit.

    The demoralized-looking automatons toiling at Face spend their days in a cavernous room with lots of empty teller windows and office cubicles.

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  12. 4dbirds said on May 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I don’t use banks anymore. Eff em. I once had a perfect storm of desposits held for no reason and checks hitting and ended up with over a grand in fees. Yah you heard that right, a grand in fees. The way they presented the checks largest to smallest made sure that I accrued the high possible amount of fees. That was a lively discussion in the manager’s office. Now I’m with NAAAVEEE FEEEEDDDD C. Union. Great place.

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  13. Jolene said on May 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    The WSJ account Nancy cites is very impressive. Would love to see some kind of dramatization–an animation, an annotated re-enactment, or something–of this incident. Must have been terrifying to live through.

    I’m fascinated by what I’m learning about what this kind of drilling involves. My professional life has all been about reading and writing, talking and listening–not making or operating. So these machines and processes–not to mention the details of the physical environment–are all new to me.

    It’s quite a trip to get my head around the scale of the enterprise. For instance, a day or so ago, I heard that the failed blowout preventer was three stories high, which makes sense when you’re talking about shutting off a mile-long pipe, but, prior to hearing that, my mental image was of something much smaller. And, despite having seen various “striking oil” moments in the movies, I’d never given much thought to the implications of the extreme pressures on subterranean oil deposits.

    Hope some enterprising filmmaker will make a PBS documentary that explains both how things are supposed to work and what went wrong in this instance.

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  14. brian stouder said on May 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Deborah – that was an absolutely superb Ebert article; thanks for the link

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  15. Joe Kobiela said on May 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I keep it simple. I aint got no money so I don’t need no bank.
    Pilot Joe

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  16. Peter said on May 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Yes, I have been a slave to Face as well, but they can eat shit and die.

    I had a home equity line of credit with them that was recently called in because the value of my house had dropped – according to them, it has dropped 60% since I took out the loan.

    I told them that the loan is eight years old, and no place in the country have prices dropped that much, and that my loan is for 100K, and even with the drop my house is worth more than 250K, so WTF? Their response- too bad for you. Well, where’s the appraisal? Can’t give it out. But it’s the law! No, only for paper copies; ours are electronic. Well, print one out, bitch! Well, needless to say, my bidness is going elsewhere.

    AND FOR ANOTHER RANT – Last week, our sovereign, Richard M. Daley, at a news conference, in response to a reporter’s question about recent gun violence in the city, threatened to stick an assualt rifle in said reporter’s ass. This was found amusing. Someone in San Jose, CA, thought this was insulting, left a message for the mayor, and is now being extradited because of the “threat” he made over the phone.

    It just makes my Memorial Day that more special, thinking that countless Americans sacrificed their lives for Daley and Palin.

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  17. LAMary said on May 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    My last phone call to Onion Stank of Bumifornia ended with me calling them greedy sleazy bastards. In house brit used a debit card from UK to withdraw some cash. He then deposited it in his OSB acccount, then transferred some to my OSB account. Two days later everything is bouncing and I’m getting hit with 34 dollar fees as is the in house Brit. Seems the bank decided the bills he deposited were counterfeit (the ones THEIR atm dispensed) so his deposit wasn’t credited, so his transfer to me was no good. A trip to a branch got us assurance that the deposit would be credited when the bills were verified as genuine.

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  18. MichaelG said on May 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Another credit union guy here. When I was with my wife, we maintained a couple of CU accounts and an account with what used to ba A. P. Giannini’s Bank of Italy but is now headquartered in Charlotte. We kept the acct there because my wife was European and we transferred money back and forth. Most American banks are totally useless when it comes to international dealings. This includes CUs. I’m happy with my CU for the most part but they mostly look so good when compared with the abysmal “service” provided by banks.

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  19. Kirk said on May 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I bank with KeyBank (its real name) and have no complaints. Of course, I’m a Neanderthal who doesn’t use or trust ATMs and, though I was stampeded by my employer into direct deposit, still doesn’t mind going to the bank to write a check to “cash” each week. They still have human tellers, one of whom unfailingly asks me whether I’ve cut my grass this week. They’re nice.

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  20. Linda said on May 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Aaaaand, just when you think you couldn’t hate banks any more, comes this beauty. Banks are stingy about lending to small businesses, they are trying hard to hang onto the no-benefits-to-anybody-but-themselves funding streams called “charges,” but they can’t deal with competition, either.

    //and yeah, I’m a credit union chick.

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  21. nancy said on May 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I am both astonished and not by these comments. Can you think of another business, outside of pawnshops or check-cashing businesses, that treats its so-called customers so shabbily? Maybe there’s another side to this, something about relentless Wall Street pressure on these companies — most of which are publicly traded — to keep ratcheting up the revenue stream quarter after quarter. Or something else.

    Or maybe they’re all just greedy motherfuckers.

    Finally finished that WSJ piece on the oil-rig explosion. Horrifying stuff. Truth be told, the rest of it isn’t as damning as that opening anecdote suggests. There’s a bit made of this ridiculous two-pronged chain of command, and a bit about a shutoff switch that might have worked if it had been thrown a moment earlier, but the overwhelming impression I got was that everything that could go wrong, did, and then people simply panicked, which is understandable when everything around you is burning and exploding. There’s a note of oil-black comedy in that the last survivors piled into an inflatable raft, which they then feared was being “sucked back” to the rig, because it wouldn’t move. The woman who sent the Mayday went overboard to swim for her life, and then they discovered, oops, they’d forgotten to cut the mooring line.

    You always wonder how you’d respond in a similar situation. Could I keep my head? Would I look after others? Or would I flee for the lifeboats and leave a guy with a broken leg lying on a stretcher on the deck? I guess it’s one of those things you don’t know until it happens to you. Shudder.

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  22. Mindy said on May 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Yet another credit union fan here. Have never even been with a bank, always credit unions. When my husband was in the Air Force and stationed in Colorado Springs, we got spoiled with an excellent military credit union and free ATMs absolutely everywhere. We would stop at OThanxHeanvenly for gas, pour a cup of coffee and get some weekend cash at the crack of dawn before hitting the road to go skiing. This was 1985. Fort Wayne is not a convenience store town. Too bad, because it’s a huge time saver.

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  23. moe99 said on May 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Here’s another subject to rant about today. Since it’s raining and I’m going to a doctor’s followup appointment from the surgery two weeks ago, I’m in a rant mode:


    The money quote:

    …So, what are we left with? Perhaps the dullest, most inconsequential White House “controversy” in a very long time.

    The White House counsel’s office prepared a memo, explaining the situation in a way that even Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) can understand: “There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations — both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals — discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.”

    Obviously. When the Reagan White House offered Sen. S.I. Hayakawa (R) a job in 1981 in the hopes of convincing him to drop out of the Republican Senate primary race in California, no one cared. When George W. Bush’s White House approached Rep. Ben Gilman (R-N.Y.) about a job in the hopes of convincing him not to run for re-election, no one cared. Mundane political efforts like these fail to raise an eyebrow because they’re the very definition of routine. As Ron Kaufman, who served as President George H.W. Bush’s White House political director, said this week, “Tell me a White House that didn’t do this, back to George Washington.”

    In this case, it’s even thinner, since Sestak wasn’t even offered a job, but rather an unpaid advisory position, which a) wasn’t particularly enticing; and b) was quickly dismissed anyway…

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  24. Deborah said on May 28, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    It is a ghost town in my office this afternoon. Everyone is leaving early for the holiday weekend and you can hear a pin drop in here. I’m going to duck out early myself. Have a happy one folks. I will be dropping in no doubt from time to time this weekend as I’m not going anywhere since I took my vacation last week. Glorious day today in Chicago.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on May 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    If you have a debit card, you can get cash back at most businesses instead of paying ATM fees. That’s what I did the summer I spent in Florida. We have never paid any fees or charges at our CU.

    While our daughter and I were out shopping we had to wait at an intersection while a huge truck went through with a veeery long mystery object, maybe 50 or 60 feet long. It was white and resembled a plane’s wing, but without flaps and ailerons. As we sat there waiting we noticed there were two more coming down the road and finally the penny dropped: parts of a windmill! A BIG windmill.

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  26. brian stouder said on May 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Julie – I’ve seen those windmill blades on the interstate before; very impressive. If you go into western Indiana, there’s a ridge with dozens of such windmills in operation, turning and turning. It is an oddly compelling sight to see.

    Speaking of very large things in the wind, Pam and I had lunch at Don Chava’s on Wells Street (near the Pepsi bottler) today, and afterword, as we were walking in the parking lot (at about 1:15) a very, very large 4-engine jet came lumbering out of the southwest, and flew right over our heads while banking into a big, sweeping righthand turn, straight south and back over the city. It was wheels-up; couldn’t have been more than 1500 feet in the air – didn’t recognize the paint job (surely it was a freight carrier, yes? Or else, a large passenger plane was doing a major diversion).

    Maybe their Garman was on the fritz…

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  27. Catherine said on May 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Nancy @ 21: “Can you think of another busi­ness, out­side of pawn­shops or check-cashing busi­nesses, that treats its so-called cus­tomers so shab­bily?”

    Yes, I can: the cable company. My cable company which rhymes with Barter has a class-action lawsuit in its future concerning their billing practices and unfulfilled bandwidth promises, if I am any predictor of these things. Sorry if that’s starting a whole ‘nother rant …

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  28. Jenflex said on May 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    No wonder I feel so at home here…I’m a credit union gal, too…loyal member and longtime employee. Only company I’ve ever worked at that really walked the talk…we want to do right by people. How lucky am I?

    I’m late visiting NN.com today because I’ve been working on messaging (for work) about the new Financial Reform bill that’s in reconciliation. The debit interchange amendment is bad news…takes money away from CUs and hands it over to big box stores.

    If anyone is interested, there’s a lot of info on http://capwiz.com/cuna/home/.

    Cheers on the long weekend. And double cheers for being part of my life. I love y’all.

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  29. Jenflex said on May 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Also, if you want to ditch the banks, you can find a CU at http://www.creditunion.coop/cu_locator/quickfind.php

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  30. Sue said on May 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    We are in the process of slowly moving some accounts from our mega-bank to one state-local and one very local. I have a couple of ties to our mega-bank that will take some time to get out of, also I would miss the awesomeness that is their online banking.
    I hate Face Bank, but that’s my credit card bank, not my real bank. Oh God how I hate them. I LEWIS BLACK hate them, that’s how much I hate them.
    And maybe Holly will chime in later to tell you-all what it’s like on the other end of the bank counter.
    What am I doing this weekend? Like all good Wisconsinites and half of Illinois, I’m going Up North.

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  31. derwood said on May 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Ahhhh National Shitty….my old stomping grounds. I worked at Fort Wayne National for 11 years until NCC came in and moved my job to Cleveland. That’s how I ended up in Indy but I got out of the banking industry. I have kept my accounts at NCC only because I still have friends that work there and call them when I need anything. Which isn’t very often as I try to never actually deal with a bank in person. I haven’t had to deal with our new bank yet but I am pissed my account numbers are changing. I have those things memorized and I don’t like change.

    When the buyout was announced in 1998 my favorite editorial cartoon was a North American Van Lines semi-trailer hauling the FWNB building out of town as they had also been bought by an out of state corporation. Don’t remember if it was at the NS or Journal. We had it posted all over the operations center at FWNB.

    I did enjoy my job there…there were some really good people working there that gave a crap about their customers.


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  32. Joe Kobiela said on May 28, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    It ws probley a ups 747, they have been up here latley doing training. They fly up and use fwa due to its long runway and lack of traffic with full cat-3 auto land ils on runway 5. United use to train here also, cheaper to fly here and get to due touch and goes than to try to due them around ohara. If you get a chance go out to fwa and watch them due touch and goes,amazing to see something that big fly. also today up here in Auburn the wife and I were sitting outside and kept hearing f-16s down low. The whole neighborhood was out looking for them.I called fwa tower on the phone and jokenly asked if we were being attacked. Turns out the f-16s were practing intercepts on a civil air patrol aircraft,simulating a tfr violation. It was cool to see them circling at 5000ft pulling contrails and going into full afterburner to maintain airspeed in a tight turn.
    Pilot Joe

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  33. Denice B. said on May 29, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I think, in general, there is a total decline in the concept of customer service. Banks aren’t alone in their attitude. It’s everywhere. Kind of sad, really.

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  34. MarkH said on May 29, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Nancy!! Be-VAAARE!!


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  35. crinoidgirl said on May 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Pilot Joe –

    You come through again! Thanks for the (very interesting) info.

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  36. kayak woman said on May 29, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I’m a little late here but as a long-time NatSpit customer, these banking customer service stories always remind me of my dad. He and his father were bankers at a small Sault Ste. Siberian bank that eventually (long after dad retired) became a National Spitty bank.

    Toward the end of his life, my dad often used to say, “When you are in the banking business, you can get into all kinds of shit.” This was in reference to the time he helped his dad do a little collection. They boarded the Sugar Island ferry (on foot), walked up the hill, picked up a cow and walked it back across the ferry. He died in 2006 and I am sure that his little “shit” story also reflected his opinion on the banking business practices that led to the meltdown of 2008.

    Have a lovely weekend. I hope you get out on the water. I’m about to go fling a kayak in and paddle away from my loverly but noisy in-laws (-:

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  37. Deborah said on May 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    First visit to the organic green market in Lincoln Park this morning. It seemed twice as big as last year. We bought asparagus, strawberries, chives, radishes, even basil (it’s early for basil), trapeo (spelling?) onions, rhubarb, squash blossoms and I don’t remember what else. God how I love this time of year. We are making a strawberry rhubarb tart for dessert and Little Bird is making squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta mixed with white truffle oil, I’m making steamed asparagus on toasted french bread with poached egg on top and a little shaved parm. Yum. Oh and a caprese salad with little mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes the Trapeo (?) onions and basil. Double yum. What are you having?

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  38. Dexter said on May 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Dennis Hopper, gone too soon…
    Deborah: Amazing menu there. We just got back from a graduation party in Michigan for my grand nephew, who is bound for Owens Tech in the Fall.
    The food was a simple taco bar and a tub of hot Swedish meatballs along with a vegetable salad bar and they had quite an array of fresh fruits with a chocolate fountain to dip strawberries into, which was nice. The cake was very nicely decorated with the theme being a chocolate graduation cap , and the cake was both chocolate and white cake.
    My local lodge is having a “rib smackdown” in their parking lot right now but I am going to pass on that this year.

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  39. Deborah said on May 29, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Dexter, I agree Dennis Hopper has gone too soon. I’m going to watch Easy Rider tonight. There is a scene in that movie where they are riding on a highway in New Mexico and it is right past where our land is, so it will live in infamy forever for us.

    we had the first part of our fabulous green market meal and now we are waiting for the strawberry rhubarb tart to finish baking. So good.

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  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Mmmm, strawberry rhubarb . . . can’t go wrong.

    Love these empty net moments in hockey — Go ‘Hawks!

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  41. moe99 said on May 30, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Nancy, I will have you know that I have a number of “BC” themed cereal bowls that my mother got for buying gas pre-1973 oil embargo. Those were the days, eh? I swear I’m not a hoarder (grin)

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  42. MichaelG said on May 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I remember when gas stations used to give stuff away. The thing became absurd to me when I saw a bumper sticker in Berkeley (where else?) that said “Free Angela Davis with every ten gallons.” You remember Angela Davis, don’t you?

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  43. LAMary said on May 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I saw Angela Davis speak in Denver in the mid seventies. She and Clyde Bellecourt from the AIM and Corky Gonzalez, side man of Cesar Chavez, all at one rally.

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  44. beb said on May 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Had a pleasant Sunday at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, MI. There were having a civil war muster in honor of memorial day. It was really hot yeah the village was crowded. People had to park on the grass along the road leading to the village. We went early thinking to beat the Sunday crowds. Ha! We had to park on the grass, too.

    But it was a pleasant walk. Always interesting to see that re-enactors. There wasn’t a lot of drilling on the village commons this year. I wonder if they decided it was just too hot to run around in wool costumes?

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  45. Deborah said on May 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    88 degrees in Chicago right now with a high expected of 90. Too hot.

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  46. moe99 said on May 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    57 and rain in Seattle.

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  47. Dexter said on May 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    THE KISS! (I loves me some Ashley Judd!)

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  48. Dexter said on May 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Oh…86 , 30% humidity, oddly feels hotter than all hell out in the sun.
    Bryan, Ohio.

    Waterloo, Indiana made nn.c recently with a shootout as well as a massive coal spill when a train wrecked right smack dab in the middle of town.
    Brighter days are here…a Dollar General just opened. This is a big deal for Waterloo, believe me.

    MichaelG: When Angela Davis and George Jackson made news, I was in the US Army.
    “FREE ANGELA! FREE HUEY!” were written all over the latrines and on sides of buildings. At that time there was a lot of racial tension in the army, as you know…but I tried to keep cool when an incident would arise, and I never ended up in a fight. But jumping ahead, by the time I found out a little bit about the Chicago cops and Mark Hampton, Huey P. Newton, and the Panther movement, I was scrawling FREE ANGELA DAVIS on the walls myself. George Jackson was killed in prison when he was 29, his brother Jonathan was killed after he taped a shotgun to a judge named Haley and the gun went off in an escape car…oh damn…this is too much information, sorry. Ya got me goin’ there, MichaelG.

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  49. basset said on May 30, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    The re-enactors I want to see are the ones who do WWII Russians… part of the “19th Guards Mechanized Brigade” operates out of Evansville, ran across some of them at a military-relic show last month.


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  50. nancy said on May 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    A friend of mine’s father was a German soldier in WWII. He said the Russian infantry were such peasants they thought flush toilets were elaborate devices to wash potatoes.

    You should probably not tell these guys that.

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  51. basset said on May 31, 2010 at 10:07 am

    That man would have a story to tell, I’m sure…

    wouldn’t be surprised if the Guards wash taters in the “commode” (Southern term) just to be authentic. some of the Civil War re-enactors are so into it that they insist on living under total CW conditions, eating half-rotten food, sleeping under wool blankets in the rain, and so forth. I understand that peeing on your brass buttons is one way to rid them of that new, store-bought shine.

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  52. Dorothy said on June 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

    We bank with Charles Schwab and I love it. They are so accommodating, and we can transfer money between accounts when we want to, and when you use your ATM card at ANY bank’s machines, they reimburse you for the charges. I try not to abuse the privilege so they won’t use my name in a meeting when they bring it up to vote and discontinue this wonderful practice. Usually I get cash back at the grocery store. They really almost have to do this because it’s not like there is a Schwab bank in every city. We both do our direct deposits for our paychecks there and it could not be easier. Love love LOVE it.

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