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Bank of America: The Chrysler of banking

CHICAGO - "How many get at least a phone call a day from Bank of America?” questions James Carlini.

Funny, how Bank of America has become a government-dependent network pest instead of a leading financial institution. It needs another $34 billion to keep afloat?

Easy solution. Cut out the nuisance phone calls.

An open assessment to Bank of America:

How many times do people have to tell you “no” when it comes to insurance on your credit card? These call are right up there with the people claiming that “The warranty on your car has expired and you must renew” or “this is your final notice about your auto warranty expiring”. Senator Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and put an end to these warranty renewal robo calls. Should he investigate you next?
Who is in charge of your call center? If they were smart, they would know that repetitive nuisance phone calls do not build relationships, they destroy them. Ask any politician who made too many phone calls to voters to make sure they went to the polls. They went to the polls all right, just to vote this person out because the phone calls became obnoxious.

Do you have a state-of-the-art CRM system in your call center? It should be tracking the last time you called some person. If your systems are so antiquated, shouldn't the government just let you die off?

We should not be backing loser companies which have old systems that do not address basic customer service issues. One of my sources says, “Why should we back another loser? They seem like they are the Chrysler of banking.”

Where are the bank's priorities?

With so many people looking for re-financing, why aren't you addressing that as a high priority? I called several weeks ago on a Monday to a Bank of America branch and got a response back on Friday telling me the rate which was just told to me on Monday had changed. I was told that I would get a call back later to get more details on re-financing and never did. Good follow-up? NOT.

I stopped by and told the bank manager don't bother. I went somewhere else and they took care of me - quickly. I could not understand Bank of America's lack of responsiveness on something that should be viewed as good business.

I thought the bailout money was to help facilitate the acceleration of helping people finance and re-finance homes. And now you need another $34 billion? For what?

Get off the phones! Unless you are doing callbacks to lend out money, start spending that money in other places like real customer service and facilitating. Do what you should be doing with all that government money that was earmarked to help the average homeowner as well as some stretched thin businesses. Lend it out.

What is your core business?

Evidently you must have Moe, Larry and Curly running the place because real bankers would understand the market. You even pulled out change-counting machines just as there was a surge of people collecting coins in cans and bringing them into banks to exchange for paper money. Does any bank economist or marketing VP get out of their office and look around in the real world?

That is like a hospital pulling out all their X-Ray machines. Good cost-cutting measure because now you don't have to maintain them - but that's part of your core business!

What is the “new solution” at Bank of America if you bring in change? They put it in a sealed plastic bag and send it to some “centralized processing place” that counts the money. I want to see it counted. That's like the butcher and baker taking the products you selected out back to weigh them on the “centralized scale”. What if they “lighten the weight by an ounce every time they weigh something? Could someone in the “change counting centralized location” pick up a quarter or two on every plastic bag they process?

That NEVER happened in any bank. Oh no. No employee ever scammed some money off an account?

If this sounds too simplistic, then let's take a look at the complex approach you have undertaken to get into the lucrative end of the financial market. You bought Merrill Lynch. There are a lot of questions still unresolved on that deal. You would think that getting back to core banking business would cement better relationships with your average customers.

How much is a lost customer worth to you? How much are they worth to your competitors? How much do you pay to gain new customers? What do you do to retain customers? Whatever the answers are, the strategy is not working.

What do I know? I am just a customer soon to be a former customer.

Carlinism: High finance begins with instilling people to save - even if it is nickels and dimes.

Recent columns by James Carlini


Rajeev responded 6 years ago: #1

I Opened an acoount with BOA couple of weeks back and i was told that i will be getting free checks. Well..they never came. When I called them up, i was told that I cannot get free checks, so I had to pay $24 for 150 checks I was supposed to get free. This is after I have been BoA customer for more than 7 years. SO I agree..BofA is Chrusler of banks..and should not be saved

bon vivant responded 6 years ago: #2

Hey, you might be right about constant calling being a bad practice, and being annoying...
But you understand nothing about banking, for starters, they dont need 34B, heck, they didnt even need the initial TARP you know what regulatory capital is? do you know that Tier 1 capital needs to be above 6%, and thanks to the over capitalization of the banks by the US government, it is know above 10% (and wouldnt have gone below 6%, not even below 7%, even without the TARP money)...
do you know that banks have to pay interest on that money? and will have to give the loan back? do you understant that the new 34B, is NOT new (just a change of mix between common and preferreds)? and that it is the result of the government changing the rules in the middle of the game?

daniel responded 6 years ago: #3

the chrysler of banking? there is no resemblance of bank of america to chrysler. are you forgetting the steller track record of profitablity of BAC before their recent aquisitions? in fact up until 2009 BAC had increased their divided 25 years in a row and were in good financial shape to remain profitiable through one of the greatest recessions since the great depression.

maybe they have taken on some toxic players of the financial industry as of late and some believe that was a mistake but in the long term i believe this will increase their market share. bac is in 50% of u.s. households at present count. i believe lewis has done an excellent job.

as for chrysler..they blame their recent business failure on the market conditions however it is widely known fact that this company has been troubled financially since its inception. they keep trying to make the next great car rather than focusing on improving current models. i belive they are stuck in the past. the sucess of the k-car can not be denied but where is the k car today? how long have the japs. been making the civic, accord, camry, corrola, etc...?

it is my opinion BAC's current predicament is priced well into its market price.

best regards

uwskiguy responded 6 years ago: #4

I get a bizzilion of those stupid warranty calls, found a website that tracks peoples reports by phone numbers that I use daily -

I report them all there and can block the numbers I want to based on the site.

Steven responded 6 years ago: #5

You sir, are a moron. I want the three minutes it took me to read this populist garbage back!!!

James Carlini responded 6 years ago: #6

It is very clear that some of you cannot comprehend what you read. It is NOT complex. Customer service is a basic foundation for good business - in any industy.

To bon vivant - if they don't need $34Billion why are they getting it? I know perfectly well that if they take it - they are going to have to give it back (and with interest as you say).

Now take a look at some of the banks that did NOT take TARP money (but were offered it). They are that much further ahead of BofA and all the rest of the domestics that did. Look at the international banks, not just the domestics. Read some of the ratings of banks on various sites. You might get enlightened.

To the main point of the article: There are clear problems with customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Repetitive calls that become nuisance calls do NOT make for good customer retention - IN ANY INDUSTRY.

A second point - Their response for mortgages also left something to be desired. You would not understand that if you were not in today's market - shopping for a standard banking product - a mortgage.

BofA's Customer service is mentioned by other people on bank rating sites. For example - verbatim:


Now, if they do not want to be in the retail banking business, that's different. But if they want to compete, they have to raise the bar on customer service.

I do not understand the criticism that this is "populist garbage"? It is evident that Steven must still live with his parents because if he was in the market for a mortgage or re-financing, he would find better customer service at other institutions which is what I pointed out in the article.

In today's stressed markets with more stipulations being put on every mortgage, those banks that do NOT have good customer service and good customer service-related systems be it call centers or information systems will lose out to their competitors.

Chris K. responded 6 years ago: #7

Jim, you seem very angry.

James Carlini responded 6 years ago: #8


Not at all. I am amused at how some people read more into an article than what it states.

My question becomes why are they so defensive for BofA? Are they stockholders? Employees?

Nuisance calls do not make for any good business relationship. PERIOD.

BofA needs help in this area. (And maybe some other companies as well if they are abusing that type of outbound calling approach.)

I am also getting feedback from others saying that I "hit the nail on the head" so there are many others frustrated by BofA's approach.

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