I feel like occupying Wall Street right now. At the beginning of the year, I decided it was past time for me to get a business account. I went to my local credit union (where I already have several accounts), but the staff person was even less informed about how to open a business account than I was (she slid the paperwork I had earnestly brought with me, in the event that information was needed to open my account, back across the desk to me and informed me I would have to come back after I acquired some information that neither she nor I had any idea how to get — and she didn’t seem to even care that she was letting a business owner walk out the door thinking that particular credit union was not a good fit for my small business).
I ended up at the Bank of America branch a few blocks from my house. The account manager was a dream. She knew her business so well she could explain it to me well enough that I understood what type of account would work for my business. I walked away feeling very happy with my choice. I was happy with it, even after BoA closed my local branch this summer.
I was not so happy when I got the notice that BoA was selling my business account to another bank…effective almost immediately. They very kindly told me my new bank would explain it all. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I finally got the information on Friday. Now that I’ve finally gotten the information from the other bank — I’m really unhappy. The terms are worse, I have no idea what their online setup is (I really liked the way BoA was set up to pay bills and keep track of my business expense). I didn’t even have any idea who I needed to contact to close my account (new bank says BoA…tomorrow I’ll find out what BoA says).
The full extent of BoA’s contempt for small businesses like mine is contained in their helpful list of what I need to do to make the transition smooth(ish) for my business:
1. Print *all* my records (estatements, transaction histories, ebill payment, check images) by the 23rd. Because after that I will have no access to those records from their site.
2. Download the information on any epayment or automatic transfer so that I can more easily (?!?) set up the account with my new bank (because, umm, what…BoA can sell my account without my permission, but they can’t work together with the new bank to make the transition seamless for me?).
3. Figure out how to deal with the dead air gap between when BoA will stop fulfilling my scheduled bill pay requests and the new bank will allow me online access to set up and manage a bill payment schedule.
For my business, this amounts to an annoyance (I have to close my account and transfer my money to a different bank, from which I can do what I normally do every month to take care of my business bills). For other businesses, I’m sure this is a great deal more than annoying. It’s going to take me several hours to deal with my relatively small workload to effect the change (time to go to the bank and close my account, time to go into my accounts that auto deposit into that account and change the automatic deposit information; time to do the research and find a new bank that is better than the one BoA sold me off to without a by your leave). I’m imagining that for some businesses this is causing a “drop everything and handle pronto” kind of work disruption. Because employees and vendors and suppliers don’t really want to hear any whining about BoA being the worst bank ever for small businesses. Payments have to be made, new accounts have to be set up. New debit cards, new online account set ups, new….
Well, I send those bigger small businesses my condolences.
And I warn any small business banking at BoA who hasn’t been sold off yet — get a backup plan in place. You may need it — in a hurry.