One more thing to hate about big banks

Recently, a Bank of America branch manager insisted that a man, Steve Valdez, born without arms and who wears prosthetic devices, provide a thumbprint before it would cash his proffered check. He had two forms of identification, both with pictures; the check he wanted to cash was written by his wife.

Nevertheless, the bank still required Valdez to give up a thumbprint.

Why does this happen?  Three reasons, and every bank CEO, SVP and Board Member should think seriously about how their bank stacks up:

Reason number one: the bank cut the training budget because they needed to generate as much profit as possible — likely to satisfy Wall Street.

Reason number two: the bank was preoccupied with other “more important stuff” so they simply were not paying attention to customer service.

Reason number three: most banks are “rule” oriented, not “people oriented”.  They train their staff that it is better to follow a rule to hell than stop, engage brain and think.

Now, you say, “No, no, this was just a happenstance.  Any bank can have a bad day.”

OK, you say that if it makes you feel better.  But, I don’t believe it.  I spend a big part of my life in and out of big banks, surveying and researching customer service.  Big banks don’t really believe in customer service.  Why? Because they don’t have to.  If they lose a customer, no big deal.  They’ve got plenty more.

What can your bank do to stay out of the paper with kind of disastrous publicity?

SWOT your bank’s customer service. Here’s how you do that: (1) Institute the changes your SWOT uncovers; (2) Set up mystery shops and customer surveys; (3) Incent your staff in a meaningful way for positive customer experience; take the incentives back for negative experiences.

This is simple ‘blocking and tackling”.  But, you’re probably busy, so call us.  We can help you get it going.

Here’s the complete story: Tampa, Florida — While most banks require a thumbprint to cash a check from someone who doesn’t have an account, a Tampa man says that policy was impossible to comply with.

Steve Valdez says he was shocked when he was told he had to put his thumbprint on a check written on his wife’s Bank of America check. Valdez says the check was written to him with the same address he has on his driver’s license. Although he had two forms of identification both with pictures, the bank still required Valdez to give a thumbprint before it would cash the check.

But that was impossible, because Valdez was born without arms and wears prosthetic devices.

According to Valdez, when he gave the teller the check, she said “Obviously you can’t give a thumbprint.” But Valdez says the manager refused to cash the check unless he did.

When Valdez told the manager giving a thumbprint would be impossible, she suggested he either bring in his wife or open an account. Valdez says that’s not the way the bank would treat someone without prosthetic arms, and he refused.

Valdez says he asked the bank if it had ever heard of the American with Disabilities Act and he says they told him they were accommodating him by offering the choices. But the ADA says businesses must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment.

A spokesman for Bank of America says while the thumbprint is a requirement for those who don’t have accounts, the bank should have made accommodations.