Friday , April 26 2019
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TD Bank: America’s Most Inconvenient Bank

Summary:
Do not bank at TD Bank. Don’t even think about it. I became a customer via TD having acquired Commerce Bank, a 400 plus branch bank headquartered in New Jersey whose motto was “No Stupid Fees, No Stupid Hours”. Branches were open till midnight. If you kept a not-that-high balance, there were no ATM fees. And speaking of ATM cards, Commerce gave you them at the time of account opening. Since being acquired by TD Bank, the service has worsened and fees are higher. It isn’t just that TD Bank gradually cut branch hours to being open only till 6:30 PM on weekdays and adding lots of fees. It also is far less careful about customer security and has technology shortcomings. The old Commerce ATM cards could be used to make purchases at stores but were PIN protected. TD Bank eliminated this feature

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Do not bank at TD Bank. Don’t even think about it.

I became a customer via TD having acquired Commerce Bank, a 400 plus branch bank headquartered in New Jersey whose motto was “No Stupid Fees, No Stupid Hours”. Branches were open till midnight. If you kept a not-that-high balance, there were no ATM fees. And speaking of ATM cards, Commerce gave you them at the time of account opening.

Since being acquired by TD Bank, the service has worsened and fees are higher. It isn’t just that TD Bank gradually cut branch hours to being open only till 6:30 PM on weekdays and adding lots of fees. It also is far less careful about customer security and has technology shortcomings. The old Commerce ATM cards could be used to make purchases at stores but were PIN protected. TD Bank eliminated this feature and required customers to have insecure non-PIN protected debit cards if they wanted to make purchases. Why this is acceptable is beyond me, since if you lose your wallet or have it stolen, someone could drain your account. So I have insisted on having an ATM card, since I am not willing to have a non-PIN protected card connected to my checking account. But you can use this card only at ATMs and not to make purchases.

Under TD Bank, I have never had a wire transfer go correctly. I have done wire transfers from other banks (Citibank, US Trust, Commerce, and ANZ in Australia), both domestic and international, without a hitch. Not TD Bank. Each and every transfer has taken multiple attempts. The whole point of paying the premium for a transfer is to move money quickly, and to charge fees for a service they can’t deliver is a ripoff.

I do not use their online banking directly but I’ve had trouble with that too.I’m not willing to risk someone being able to get access to the account if my machine went astray. Recall I lost my laptop, plus laptops are sometimes stolen at airport screening and I use that same machine at my desk.

But I have had TD Bank set up my online banking account for my accountant to be able to download transaction information. I’ve had to go to the branch at least five times over this, both because like the transfer, it seemed the branch staff weren’t able to execute correctly, and then later, the system for some reason started rejecting the passwords my accountant had created, forcing me to go back to the branch to repeat the exercise (the arbitrary wiping of the passwords happened twice; the staff actually confessed to it one of the two times).

The latest incident involved my aforementioned ATM card. I was making a deposit at an ATM, something I have done a zillion times, but fed a check in not squarely aligned. The machine spit it out and told me to do it again. But the touch screen became unresponsive, with message kept repeating and the machine beeping. I hit the “Enter” key first to try to break the loop in which it was clearly stuck, then “Cancel”. The ATM then announced it was retaining my card for security reasons. Pray tell, how does making a check deposit constitute a security hazard?

Of course, this happened right before I was scheduled to go out of town. I called the customer service number and was told I could get a new card right away in the branch. But as we’ll see, that was not correct.

I went to the 85th and 3rd Street branch and made sure to get there before 4:30 PM (this was on a weekday). But there were six people waiting for service and the one person who had been handling non-teller customers left his desk after he finished the customer he was working with when I came into the branch.

In the meantime, there was a woman seated in a glassed-in corner office, with two branch employees in suits standing talking to her. This already looked odd, since if a manager comes in to help a customer service rep, they usually either work on the computer or get on the phone to sort the problem out. But this was all conversation, no forms in evidence, and no interaction with screens or phones. I then saw a third suit person walk in to talk to seated woman. I heard the word “disrespected” from the seated woman. In the meantime, two more people came into the branch to join the scrum in the seating area (I had been sitting on a table because all the seats were filled when I came in).

Seated woman finally got up and left the room. She has a pin with a name on it! She was a TD Bank employee and went back into the teller area. So what appears to have been some sort of interpersonal issue had tied up three, then four branch employees for 25 minutes while customers are piling up and the after-work rush hasn’t even started.

The three non-teller employees stayed in the corner office and continued talking, with one taking the seat and the other two standing. There was no sign this was going to let up.

After five more minutes, I got up tapped on the glass door with my trusty shooting stick, opened it, stuck my head in, and said something like:

I have been in financial services for over 30 years. Your sign over there [pointing] says “America’s Most Convenient Bank.” People have been waiting for over a half an hour and no one has been served while you have been talking. I have a website with a heavy New York readership that gets 1.5 million page views a month. I don’t think you want me writing about this.

That broke up the meeting.

After maybe 15 more minutes to clear the queue ahead of me, I finally saw a branch staffer. I learned what I had been told was incorrect. The employee could give me one of those insecure, non-PIN protected debit cards in the branch, but TD Bank evidently got rid of the ability that Commerce Bank had, to hand out and PIN-protect ATM cards in the branch. They have to send me one in the mail. That takes seven to ten business days.

I got back from my trip and the card was here. It had both a sticker on it and an enclosure that said I can activate the card by calling a number provided or by using it at an ATM and entering my pre-existing PIN.

I try calling the phone number and provided the card number. I was very careful to input it correctly.

The system said it does not recognize the number.

The next day, I went to an ATM, inserted the card, and put in my PIN.

At first, things seem to be OK. I got a familiar screen giving me options of what to do next, like Deposit. I pressed “Balance Inquiry”.

It then asked me to input my PIN. This is not normal behavior. I typed my PIN again.

It said the PIN is invalid.

I tried again a couple of more times, and I got the same response. I then hit “Cancel”.

Curiously, the ATM did not eat my card, when you would think multiple PIN entries would do that.

When I get back to my apartment, I called TD Bank and told them what happened. The rep looked up my card number and said it hasn’t been authorized for use because I provided an invalid PIN.

I told her I was certain the PIN I entered was correct, because not only is it easy to remember but it is also the same one as on my other TD Bank card, and I haven’t had any problem with that one.

She said all she could do was either send me a new card or a PIN reminder letter.

I told her to do the latter. I asked “What happens when you send me the PIN that the system says is invalid?”

She didn’t have an answer.

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