HIGHTOWER: Why People Hate Banks

You want to know why people hate banks? It's because banks hate people.Some years ago when I took out a mortgage from Franklin Savings to buy my little house in Austin, Texas, Bob was my bank officer. Nice guy. And if I had a problem or question, I could just call-up Bob, or even pop-over to see him -- they always had a pot of fresh coffee going.But this was before America's banking system was "improved" by having nearly all local banks gobbled-up by national MegaBanks. Now, Bob is gone, and I am in the clutches of something called Mellon Mortgage Company. I don't know anyone there, and even if I did, I couldn't pop-over to have a cup of coffee with them, since they don't have an office here -- they're in Kansas.This month, I had a question about my account. No problem, the new high-tech MegaBanks have all the latest computer gizmos to make them super-efficient. So I call the toll-free Customer Service Line. "All circuits are busy. Please try later." I try later. I get the same machine. I try again . . . and again . . . and again.Finally, I call Mellon's regular number in Kansas and on my quarter. I get voice mail, which takes an eon before telling me which button to press for an actual human. That number rings fifteen times before the human pops-on with practiced cheeriness: "How may I help you?" By answering a question about my mortgage, I reply. "That is handled in Denver," she tells me, still cheery, "let me give you our Customer Service line . . . ." I've been trying that all afternoon, I interrupt. "If you try early in the morning you'll have a better chance of getting through," she instructs me, now less cheerful. Isn't there an office number there, I ask? "If you'd like to try it, here it is," she responds testily.I try it "All circuits are busy . . . ."That's why people hate banks.

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