Letter Re: The Noose is Tightening

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HJL,

Reading your bank policies note made me want to share an experience I had recently.

I took my income tax return check to my local credit union for deposit only, no cash back. My wife had signed the check. They told me, “We can only deposit this check into an account you are both on.” I said, “There is no such an account.” Well, then she will need to come in with you. I said, “Okay, forget about it.” I took the check to my local PNC Bank (where it’s my sole account) who deposited it minus the hassle. I didn’t even waste my time trying to explain to the local credit union that they already have laws against forgery.

Surprisingly, I’ve had much more bad luck with credit unions making up rules as they go along than big banks (except Bank of America, who’s really bad). – d.

HJL Replies: I’m pretty convinced at this point that practically any banking institution is going to have issues. Many of the issues are driven by external factors such as regulators and legislation, but I also had a relative that was a bank auditor and to some extent the problems can be due to what mood the person driving them is in on that particular day (bad hair day?). With the government desiring to track every possible financial transaction, all banking institutions will come under increasing pressure to track, record, and report such information. I think we are going to hear of more privacy and constitutional violations as time moves forward, no matter the size of the bank. Small banks may have higher employee satisfaction ratings, which result in better customer satisfaction, but they have far less ability to absorb mistakes or movements in the financial world. They are generally beholding to the larger banks anyway. Nothing we are hearing about now has been unexpected, and JWR has been beating the drum for a number of years to get out of debt and hold as little position in financial institutions as necessary.

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