Right now I’m reading this terrific article, “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail”, written by Matt Taibbi over on Rolling Stone. It’s a long one and I am enjoying it.
I worked for Bank of America for five years. And this article confirms everything I’d ever really suspected about them. I hated working for the company because they shoved this corporate line of customer service down our throats so we could regurgitate it to the customers. But almost every change in policy or new procedure the bank implemented made it very clear that they didn’t give a damn about the customers.
That’s why they beat us senseless with the customer service stick. The only way we could convince people to stay with us was because they liked the people that worked at the branches. We were the same people that did not see any benefit from BofA growing bloated and corrupt.
This deeply American terror of not always having the absolutely hugest dick in the room is what put us in the inescapable box called Too Big to Fail.
I didn’t realize that up until about 1985, there were federal laws that didn’t allow banks to operate in more than one state. That was changed, apparently, because larger banks could operate more efficiently and offer better service for increasingly mobile customers. Let me tell you, this is not true in Bank of America’s case. The bank had grown too big to operate efficiently. Key functions and services were departmentalized, stripping employees of the ability to serve the diverse needs of customers. In order to solve problems, I frequently had to deal with an average of three different departments. And frequently one department would just hand me off to another. The left hand did not talk to the right. Furthermore, there were fundamental flaws with interstate transactions that I believe are unsolved to this day.
I still bank with Bank of America. But it is only because they have the best online banking interface I have ever used. As soon as Simple launches, though, I am out of there.
Taibbi is right. The government should have let Bank of America crash and burn. As an institution, it is doing far more harm than good.