28 December, 2012

Alice Doesn't Bank Here Anymore

A while back I was reading a post on another blog that described a very frustrating encounter with the author's bank. It reminded me of my day of greatest irritation, bank-wise, and concerns those drive-through tellers.

My bank used to be wonderful. It was a locally owned bank founded here in 1814, informally anyway, because the Deveroux brothers had the best strongbox in the area. Not too many years ago, however, they were purchased by a larger bank and soon after that by a still larger bank. Sigh. What had been remarkable personal service has fallen by the wayside.

A couple of years ago I pulled up to the drive-through teller in my Miata. This would be problematic for anyone because sitting there with your rear end only about a foot off the ground makes for quite a lengthy reach to get to the pneumatic tube thingie.

For me, it's impossible. Since I can't use my left arm, I have to reach out the left window with my right arm and then up to the device. No way, and I got out of the car so I could stand to complete my transaction.

That's when it happened. Over the intercom a disembodied voice said she couldn't serve me because I wasn't in a vehicle. I explained I couldn't reach from the vehicle, and she said, again, that she couldn't serve me unless I was in my vehicle.

Okay, that's not an option for me. Arrgghh!! I drove around, parked, and went inside to complete my transaction. When I was done, I asked to speak to the highest ranking individual and hoped it would be the branch manager. Although I had to wait a few minutes, I was soon shown into her office.

I proceeded to explain very calmly and politely what had just happened with the drive-through teller. The manager was a bit puzzled because I had, in fact, driven up, and the rule was intended to prevent walk though customers. She also noted that since I was standing beside my car, there was no danger of another vehicle hitting me. That was the real concern and the reason for the rule. I indicated it didn't matter to me what was intended.

I went on to note my physical disabilities and then said, "So that you'll understand, I'm going to put the worst possible spin on this that I can. You bank just denied me service BECAUSE I have some disabilities. That has never happened to me before. Anywhere. Is that what you want to be known for?"

I went on to explain I wasn't looking for an apology or anything other than a change in their policies that discriminate. I didn't want this to happen again - to anyone. She assured me that she would meet with the tellers to ensure that it would not.

Of course, my Miata and I have never used the drive-through teller again although I have when driving my adult-sized car. I'm just not confident things have changed, and I don't want the frustration if it hasn't. Too many of us, however, do that, and we do it all too often.

I have accommodated to them to make their lives easier. Unfortunately. Although I have to take responsibility for learning whether the changes were ever implemented, I shouldn't have to. In fact, it shouldn't have happened in the first place.