Dear Bank of America — It’s me, David Berry. I’ve been a personal banking customer for 16 years (I had hair back then! Don’t you remember? Of course you don’t). For no other compulsion than ease of access, I became a business banking customer in 2016 too. That was a monstrous mistake, but we’ll get to that in a few minutes, if you can be patient.
Don’t worry — my wait times are manageable! And I can assure you that your business is important to me, so much so that I’ll ask you to take this highly-engaging survey with no context. Click here. What’s more rewarding than offering feedback that no one listens to?
Besides everything? Nothing.
Anyway, what a ride we’ve been on together. Back when I was a broke college kid, you robbed me of $30+ dollar overdraft fees on a bi-weekly basis (like a paycheck, but in reverse!). Is there a better way to incentivize people to get more money in their accounts than by robbing them of a week’s worth of Ramen Noodles and canned goods? Probably, but who has the time?
Ah, the laughs we had.
Anyway, I was sad to see you shit your pants back in the 2008 banking collapse. That must’ve been tough. So you can imagine the relief I felt when you — MY bank, just for me! — got a $20 billion bailout and a guarantee for close to $100 billion in potential losses on toxic assets in early ’09.
I wish I could’ve pitched in a few coins, but once you tacked on those $3 ATM charges for taking out my own money, things got a little tight.
(Seems like a good time to remind you to download my app, where you can talk to a robot named Eric, who doesn’t have an actual face, personality, or answers to your questions. It’s just like your app, Erica! Ahh, the jokes we had during that brainstorm).
Anyway, I almost forgot! That bailout money you got was on top of the $25 billion you pulled in from TARP loans. And thank God for that because (hit your fast-forward button here, I know you’re busy) you really turned things around with money that’s not yours — just like you did pre-bailout with my money!
Over three years (2016 to 2019), profits were up 18 percent, and then four months ago, you got approval to buy back $30.9 billion in stock.
And you still had $30 billion in excess capital leftover.
Nothing like pulling yourself up by the bootstraps for a great comeback story. God bless the United States of (Bank of) America!
Anyway, I’m writing to you today because (I’m sorry for the inconvenience of having to explain this to you, but I can assure you your business is very valuable to me), I’m having some trouble getting approval for a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan from your bank.
Like a great customer, and longtime friend (duh), I was first in line to apply for the loan. After you opened up the loan application close to two hours after you said you would, I had submitted my information. Two days later, you prompted me to upload my supporting documents.
Like one of your kids, I knew I must’ve made you proud with being so prompt and astute.
And then…silence. For two weeks. Your website thanked me for my patience (it’s like you can read minds), and then like the NBA season, all of the money was gone. The SBA announced that all of the loan money had been given out and you were still ‘processing my application.’
But just as I was about to lose hope, you sent me an email. I knew you wouldn’t let me down, not my bank! Instead, I was confused.
“We haven’t received all of your loan application documents;” that was the subject line of your email.
Confused — since I went through the list line-by-line and uploaded my documents accordingly — I opened the email, which gave such specific feedback as “our files show you need to provided additional information for us to move forward.”
Ah, perfect, clear as mud.
Now, I hope you can understand what a pickle this put me in. On one hand, I’m a loyal customer who dutifully got his paperwork together within an hour of you opening your loan program.
On another, I’m an ailing small business owner with real, present concerns about his ability to operate as usual.
Naturally, I called you. As I sat on hold for two hours, I was soothed by the frequent, automated words of encouragement from an undoubtedly white woman from the midwest. Very helpful woman! You should hire her to answer calls sooner and give other commands besides “please drag your broke ass over to our app.”
Two hours later, I was fortunate to get a kind woman on the phone. Sweet and gentle, you had locked her and every other employee from accessing any of the files I allegedly uploaded incorrectly. I was told that no one at Bank of America besides the so-called loan processors (who at this very moment are locked in their paneled basements and kept from human contact) can tell me anything, and since they’re not allowed to talk with their mouths or type with their hands, that means no one can tell me anything.
But it wasn’t all bad news!
She assured me with all of the warmth of my favorite blanket that many Bank of America customers were receiving these messages in error.
Meaning I had in fact uploaded my information correctly, but because you’ve empowered no one to even look at or double check my files, I remained shit out of luck.
But she offered a sure-handed reminder to be patient! And we all know patience is a virtue, especially while the global economy tumbles around you and you play your bi-weekly game of “Wee, is it food or payroll?!”
Anyway, I’d like to thank you for your patience while reading this note, because I’m getting to the point of the whole thing. And rest assured your feedback is very important to me, which is why you can leave a comment that I may or may not respond to within two to 64 business days.
Here’s my message:
Fuck yourself. Metaphorically, literally or both, because I’d hate to leave you without options! You’d know that if you logged off and visited our app.
I could defend you and say you were caught off guard by federal legislation that had many moving parts. Hell, I could offer concessions for your ineptitude because you’re being inundated with an unusually high call volume.
Which reminds me of the same fuckery you count as customer service hold messages when I call on at 2:15 p.m. on a Tuesday. That’s prime time for high call volume at the same time strip clubs have a line out the door for lap dances.
You know, never.
So I’m done offering concessions. I’m done being placated by pre-recorded niceties and hapless customer service employees. But yes, it’s tough to say that with confidence when I know I’ll be missing out on your 0.1% interest rate on my savings account.
I may not double my money by the year 2240, and sadly, that’s the type of regret I’ll have to live with.
All of that goes to say that I hope you can thank me for my patience while I move to a smaller bank. It’s true. Some banks are taking on new customers and helping them with PPP loans at the bank.
I spoke to a person yesterday, a real one! And then she called me back this morning. (Wait until they see me take advantage of them by paying all my bills on time!)
Anyway, I’m a busy man and I must go. I’d thank you for 16 years of service, and you could tell me you’re sad to see me go, but neither of us would be telling the truth.
Can you fill out this survey? Click here. Thanks!