I have read just one too many "ignorant" letters to the editor regarding banks vs. credit unions, and now my blood is boiling, and as a consumer, I'm terrified that banks are going to win.
You can all remember the story of a man standing by consumers with the Bailey Savings and Loan, common, hard-working people against Mr. Banker Potter's quest for financial monopoly positions. Savings and loan companies went by the wayside a decade ago, and Mr. Potter gleefully began swallowing up little banks. Here in Utah, we saw Valley Bank and several other small community banks become part of Bank One, Zions Bank and First Security Bank. I was a loyal customer to one of these banks when it cared about its customers.Now, talking to a real person is out of the question. Corrections for bank errors? Forget about it. Want to use your money the day after you deposit it? Forget that, too. You'll likely have to wait for five days, average. And notice how the withdrawals are taken out during a given day. Largest amount first, assuring the bank the least amount in interest to compensate its customers, and a possibility of those lucrative overdraft charges increases dramatically. If they err through a missed ATM deposit or other electronic gaff, their response is likely to be, "Oh sorry, we'll refund 25 percent of those overdraft charges. You shouldn't have been so close to the line, anyway."
While a few small community banks remain, how can I trust that they will remain locally owned and managed, and therefore directly answerable to the consumer for any length of time? The possibility of acquisition by bigger, impersonal, unaccountable banks is very real.
The only fly in the monopoly ointment for Mr. Banker Potter now is credit unions. Credit unions offer customer service that Mr. Potter refuses to offer. Credit unions calculate withdrawals in a fair and equitable manner. There are real people to work through problems. The money is available the day I make a deposit. The fact is that while every other service and product retailer has to serve the customer with quality and courtesy, large banks flatly refuse to. And banks don't want the consumer to have a high profit earnings during these same years. It's time for consumers who value service and choice to wake up and contact their state legislators. After all, there will be a lot of PAC money from Mr. Potter floating around the state Capitol to ensure the legislators see things their way and state laws get passed to snuff out that competition.