If the regulators overseeing community banks were to ape the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by disclosing data about customers' complaints, the results might be more entertaining than illuminating.
So says reader PRLynn, who reviews complaint files for small banks. Commenting on a recent story in which consumer advocates clamored for more transparency about customer disputes at banks with less than $10 billion in assets, she warned that little insight could be gleaned from the information.
"How helpful will it be to see the following (typical) complaints lodged against small banks?” she wrote. "The new accounts person did not offer fresh coffee. The carpet in the lobby is ugly. The bank should have known the check they were depositing would bounce. The bank is not open on Saturdays. Ten pages of incoherent rambling that references things like ‘free citizen of the republic' … I could go on."
We found a few other bank-related examples of this type of feedback on NotAlwaysRight.com, a website that collects stories about customers with less-than-reasonable requests: a bank customer flips out after denial of a request to withdraw money without providing identification; a non-accountholder objects to paying a service fee to cash a check; a cardholder tries to return a new credit card because it has an unwanted feature, contactless payment capabilities ("that radio frequency payment stuff"), in addition to the traditional magnetic stripe.
To be sure, the banking industry, particularly the large national banks, has a sorry record of mistreating customers and ignoring legitimate complaints. The CFPB's database is intended to encourage improvements in this area. Still, some requests can be frivolous. We wondered if there were other recurring themes among the types of trivial feedback small banks receive.
What's the most inane customer complaint your bank has ever received? How did your team handle the situation? What have you learned from dealing with this type of feedback over the years? Let us know in the comments section below.