Broome Letter

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008

To the Editor:

Am I being overly sensitive, or has there been a dramatic change in what the average person can expect in the area of customer service these days? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t appreciate being attended to by a cashier who is also talking to someone else on his or her cell phone.

I don’t like having to hunt someone down in order to make my purchase only to be met with an attitude of indifference, if not outright hostility. Don’t my seemingly unimportant purchases comprise these rude people’s salaries?

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I suppose most of the people who annoy me could claim ignorance in defense of their actions (or lack of actions). After all, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to earn minimum wage. Apparently, we forgot to tell an entire generation of clerks and cashiers that being nice and attentive to customers is a good idea and they aren’t bright enough to figure it out on their own.

But that excuse doesn’t (or shouldn’t) explain the current level of disservice I (and others) now receive at the bank. Here’s an institution that constantly bombards the public with promises of service; each spending huge amounts in advertisements that try to convince us that we would be better served at their location than at their competitor. I recently shared my opinions about this with my bank in the following letter:

Dear whoever is in charge this month,

As an independent pharmacist and businessman in my hometown, I am acutely aware of the importance of customer loyalty. I believe that the loyalty is due in part to good service, and that good service should especially be extended to loyal customers.

I’m not saying that new or infrequent clients should be treated in any way other than courteously. I am saying that those customers seen on a regular basis should be treated in a manner that lets them know they are appreciated.

I opened my very first checking account at a Batesville bank in 1976 when I was 17 years old. In the past 30 years, I have opened a savings account, financed several vehicles, taken out a mortgage on my house and established a home equity line of credit at the same bank; or should I say, at the same location. My wife and kids have accounts elsewhere, but I kept my original account. I’m loyal.

“As I said, I’m a pharmacist. I can’t leave the store unattended during the day, so I usually have one of my employees take my paycheck to the bank. I usually don’t have a deposit slip because I don’t carry a checkbook (which only has about 2 deposit slips per book anyway) so for the past few years, I have endorsed my check and put it in an envelope with my name and account number on the outside.

I figured, after making a deposit every 2 weeks into the same account since 1993, surely that would suffice.

I figured wrong. My employee had to bring my check back to me, along with a deposit slip. I put my name and account number on the slip and sent it back. The teller sent it back again. I had not entered my full address.

I could understand (and appreciate) such meticulous attention to detail if someone other than the person named on the check was trying to withdraw money from an account, but I’ve never had a problem with someone trying to put money into my account!

When my employee asked why my address was needed, she was told it was for my own protection. I suppose the bank is trying to save me from the frustration of having money in my account that I may not have authorized.

Other banks in town don’t seem to have any problem taking deposits. There are tellers in Batesville who can actually look up an account on their computers by name only. Maybe my bank needs to get one of the other bank’s computers (or tellers).

Or maybe I just need to get a new bank, one that doesn’t require proof of identity (beyond a name and account number they’ve been seeing for 32 years) in order to allow me to make a deposit.

I hate to just walk away from a place where I’ve done a lifetime of transacting (although my loyalty doesn’t appear to count for anything) but as soon as I manage another day off during banking hours, I’m going to do my best to be less of a problem for my bank. I’m going to take my insignificant funds elsewhere.

Your loyal customer for the past 32 years, account number 1508474; look it up if it’s not too much trouble.

No one has responded yet. I guess they’re too busy protecting their customers by trying to put an end to all those inappropriate deposits.

Erik R. Broome