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Tuesday 28 May 2002

My Bank Hates Me

Recently, Nicole and I have noticed that there are a number of bank branches going up in Front Royal. Like three. There are three bank branches under construction at the moment in Front Royal; these supplement the two that have been constructed since last fall, which in turn support the eight bank branches (and one credit union) that formerly met the needs of the Front Royalty. All together, that’s thirteen banks (and one credit union) for a town that has, counting everyone living within ten miles, 54,000 souls — or one retail financial institution for about every 3,800 people. There’s not fourteen of anything else in Front Royal. There are not fourteen gas stations; there are fewer than fourteen fast-food restaurants. There are not fourteen motels; and Front Royal is a town with a conspicuous abundance of motels, catering to tourists visiting Shenandoah National Park.

These are all responsible, profit-generating instutitions, apparently getting into the market there for the long haul. All of the newly-constructed and under-construction banks are solid, free-standing structures, built of brick, and with multiple drive-through lanes. There must be enough money to be made in the retail banking game that the potential business is well worth the competition.

Which leads to our main point: the incomprehensibility of banks’ seeming hatred of their customers.

It’s no secret that banks, generally speaking, don’t treat their customers well. Do a Google search for “bank” and “poor customer service” and you’ll get a couple of thousand results, from all over the world. The general consensus seems to be that banks only want to deal with very wealthy individuals, and that the average person with a few thousand dollars in a checking account just isn’t worth their time.

Which, again, makes me wonder why so many banks are interested in doing business in Front Royal, which is hardly a hideaway for the Rich and Famous. Could it be that charging people large fees for holding on to their money is actually profitable? Is it possible that the banks have been lying when they say that they can’t make money on retail banking? Corporate America less than truthful? Can’t be.

Posted by tino at 22:34 28.05.02
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