PNC Bank Corp. has come up with a new wrinkle on service guarantees, offering to pay $500 to charity if any private banking customer is dissatisfied.
The private banking division of PNC's New England unit started the policy this spring in suburban Connecticut and the Boston area, said spokeswoman Ellen Essenfeld. So far, she said, no customer has taken the bank up on the offer.
Though a few banks back up their service quality with pledges of flat payments, PNC wanted something different for private banking customers. Such customers "tend to be charitably inclined," said Ms. Essenfeld.
The program will direct $500 to the charity of the customer's choice.
There is no list of transgressions to check-clients simply can express dissatisfaction and the bank will back up its guarantee. "If they're unhappy they just need to tell us," Ms. Essenfeld said.
PNC put ads in local papers in Connecticut that tout the experience of its private bankers and a dedication to clients that extends 24 hours, seven days a week.
"We're so sure you'll be happy with our service, we'll put money on it," the ad states in bold print. Furthermore, it notes, "we hate to part with our money as much as you do."
The Pittsburgh-based banking company is not the first to offer a service guarantee to private clients.
For many years Banc One Corp. and Comerica Bank Texas have had service guarantees in their trust departments. Comerica and Banc One offer to return a year's fees, which can easily exceed $500. Fees on a $1 million trust are typically $10,000.
PNC wanted to extend a guarantee to all private clients, not just those with trust accounts, Ms. Essenfeld said.
Another difference in approach is that Banc One and Comerica tell only current customers about the policies; they are not advertised to prospects.