Branch Manager Quits Rather Than Trick Bank Customers Into Signing Up For Overdrafts

The bank branch manager who felt uncomfortable that his bank was making him choose between misleading customers into signing up for overdraft protection and keeping his job has decided to quit.

He writes:

I’m happy to say I have given my resignation and will be moving on to a new position where I will be helping people, not deceiving them. However, I do want to make all the readers aware that there is a facility in place to complain to your state government about similar practices. Before I left, I filed a complaint with my state attorney general about the practice. Rather quickly I received a letter explaining that the Attorney General’s office didn’t have time to respond to my individual complaint, but they are always on the lookout for a pattern of complaints about similar bad business practices. I confirmed this with a representative on the phone as well. The thing is, it’s surprisingly easy to file a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office. For example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an online form where you can file a complaint within 2 minutes.

Here’s one for New York

Here’s one for California

You get the point.

I firmly believe that the consumer protection laws were passed to do just that: protect the consumer. To those who cry “let the buyer beware,” we must understand that not all buyers are simply aware in the first place. I spoke to a woman today whose English was spotty at best. I asked her if she knew about the changes in the laws regarding bank accounts. She told me that she had already spoken to someone in my company who assured her that “everything was okay – things will just be the same.” I had a translator help me actually explain the differences, and the customer was appalled to learn that the representative she had spoken to her earlier had made her election for her to provide affirmative consent to pay overdraft fees. Not only are banks packaging the overdraft “service” in a deceptive way (e.g. “Account Protector), they are allowing their employees to sell it to customers whose language or cultural differences make it difficult or impossible to understand.

Ben et. al., thanks for getting the word out. An informed consumer is a sustainable consumer, and an economy made up of sustainable consumers is a sustainable economy.

Sincerely,

Concerned, but free.

Hero +1.

PREVIOUSLY: Get Customers To Sign Up For Overdraft Fees Or Get Fired

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Snarkster says:

    I think all places of employment should come with emergency exits equipped with inflatable slides. I can dream.

  2. Shadowfire says:

    I’m looking for a new job now because of the unethical way the employees at my store are treated. My position as middle management gives me no ability to change it, so I depart instead. Ugh..

    • wild homes loves you but chooses darkness! says:

      If this guy was grandstanding in any way, I could see your derision. But he’s not– in fact, he doesn’t toot his own horn at all. The only real consequence of his action is simple: he’s going to find another job, and he’s not going to be confronted with treating customers in a way that he’s uncomfortable with. When it’s all in perspective, your sarcasm seems a bit churlish. I don’t get what part of it is so worthy of being mocked.

      • Shadowfire says:

        What? There’s no sarcasm there. That is my situation. Way to be an ass.

        • coren says:

          Your situation does read pretty much identical to this banker’s (middle management, powerless to do anything, quit) so I can see how someone might read it as mocking the OP instead of sympathizing.

      • Moweropolis says:

        How do you see him being sarcastic there?

    • Griking says:

      Good luck, it’s a tough time to voluntarily quit a job. Hopefully you aren’t making a mistake.

  3. lim says:

    Good luck to you and sleep untroubled.

  4. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    Good for him, for sticking with his values. I hope his new job brings him a lot of success, because we need more people like this at the top.

  5. SonarTech52 says:

    *Starts slow clap*

    I know there’s a tough job market out there, but I wish more people stood up for what is right like this guy.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Well, it sounds like he found another job before he quit this one.

      • lukesdad says:

        Can you hold it against him, though?

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          I think she was just pointing out that he isn’t unemployed.

          I don’t blame him. In fact, plenty of the commentors suggested he find a new job before quitting.

    • ARP says:

      Actually, if enough people did, they might actually change their policy. Not because its the right thing to do or because they want to treat their employees and customers with respect. No, they cost of obtaining and training new employees would outweigh the benefits of the pushing the overdraft program. Simple math.

      • OnePumpChump says:

        Really? Do you think those added personnel costs would add up to 38 billion dollars a year across the industry?

  6. stormbird says:

    A smart business will snap him up because he’s the type of leader that the employees will love and the customers will trust.

  7. SOhp101 says:

    Wow, this guy is stupid. Just because corporate tells you to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it exactly the way they tell you down to the letter. You call up your customers, tell them to opt in. 99.9% will ask what they’re opting in for. You tell them the truth. Let the customer decide for him/herself.

    • backinpgh says:

      And then let your company fire you. With cause, making you ineligible for unemployment. And adding an awesome factoid to your resume. Awesome idea.

      • Devil505 says:

        Only if they fight the unemployment claim. Which wouldn’t be smart considering that they would have to reveal their scummy practices to the arbitrator.

        • SChance says:

          Not necessarily. They will say, “He was fired for cause. We said ‘sell x Account Protector services,’ and he only sold y.”

          Employee will open his mouth to say, “I didn’t sell them because customers didn’t need them.”

          Employer’s lawyer will stop him before he gets to the word “didn’t,” and the administrative judge/arbitrator/whatever will agree with the lawyer that the reason isn’t relevant, only the fact that the employee did not meet his quota.

          Case closed, no unemployment – oh, and this is six months after you were fired, so pay back the six months of benefits you’ve already collected.

          • psm321 says:

            Like I said in the previous article, I’m pretty sure most states require you to be fired for some sort of heinous offense (like stealing or something) before they will deny unemployment. Not being good enough at your job is not enough to be denied.

          • psm321 says:

            Like I said in the previous article, I’m pretty sure most states require you to be fired for some sort of heinous offense (like stealing or something) before they will deny unemployment. Not being good enough at your job is not enough to be denied. IANAL, and I don’t know with 100% certainty that this is true, but I’m pretty sure

            • Swervo says:

              I know that specifically, in California, this is 100% correct. You can only be denied unemployment upon termination for “gross negligence”, which generally means doing something like getting drunk and lighting the place on fire. Not living up to performance expectations does not fall under that umbrella.

              • RvLeshrac says:

                …precisely because it discourages employers from engaging in scummy practices like this.

                For those who read and want to comment on how California is “socialist,” the protection in place is because employers can otherwise set employees up to fail using unrealistic quotas.

                In GA, you can easily be denied unemployment for quitting, regardless of reason, which is why many of the companies I’ve worked for have “encouraged” employees to quit by cutting them down to 1 hour a week, or expressly scheduling them on days they are unavailable to work.

      • Destron says:

        Unemployment is ridiculously easy to get. They will give it to you just so your former employer can foot the bill for you sitting on your ass at home instead of the government. I have seen people fired for just about anything get it – even when it was clearly their fault they got fired.

        • coren says:

          Yes and then your employer disputes it (or says something one word different from what you said) and you’re in months on end of arbitration and judgment and waiting. It’s fun, really.

      • SOhp101 says:

        Have you ever worked before in your life? If you QUIT, you are automatically ineligible for unemployment. If you get FIRED, you’re eligible unless they can prove you stole from the company or were high on drugs or some other egregious offense.

        • smo0 says:

          Not true not true not true not true….

          that is some bullshit right there… in fact, I’ve read most of your comments on here and you know shit all of what you’re talking about.

          I technically “quit” my job at citi.. .basically you don’t get fired from Citi, you have to sign, “I will do such and such or I will resign.”

          Citi is notorious for skirting unemployment because of this… that is… until you actually fight it.
          I got unemployment and back pay for the few weeks I was fighting their denial.
          If you prove you quit – hostile or dangerous work environment, threats, immoral activities… you’re more than covered…..

          This is advice to all… don’t listen to this asshole – if you’re in a job that puts you in any of these situations and you refuse to quit because you’re afraid you won’t get unemployment… QUIT – keep any and all documented evidence and be prepared to fight…. but you will get it.

    • ames says:

      why are you slamming him? How is he stupid? He has another job, he had a moral issue with what his company was doing, so he left. I don’t think he’s stupid at all, I think he seems like a pretty decent guy.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      He’s not stupid, he did the right thing.

      • SOhp101 says:

        “I was delivered an ultimatum today – commit to selling the “Account Protector” regardless of whether it is necessary or not, or tender my resignation. “

        From his previous post. From the sound of his letter to Consumerist, it doesn’t even sound like they had some minimum signup requirement from each employee–he just had to “sell” it. You can easily do your job without tricking customers. That’s why I called him stupid.

        • psm321 says:

          How about the sentences right before that? “It’s not surprising that I am not getting enough people to opt in. It’s also not surprising that my job here is in serious jeopardy because of this.”

          • SOhp101 says:

            Sure, it implies he has a quota–that would be something that would REALLY make ‘selling’ overdraft coverage evil. But most bank managers, know that a few customers make most of the overdrafts so it would be incredibly stupid for them to do something like this.

            The overall tone of his post sounds like “Management tells me to sign up customers in vague language, I don’t like it, so management is threatening to fire me.”

    • coren says:

      No, customers won’t ask. Or will be fooled. This is just banks trying to circumvent new policy and it shouldn’t fall onto low level employees to try and hold up the bank’s sagging overdraft profits.

      • SOhp101 says:

        I’m actually making these phone calls right now and EVERYONE has asked me what it is. No one is stupid enough to just say “sure sign me up!” without asking for more information.

        Just like how a previous Consumerist post stated, a very small percentage of the customers make a majority of the overdraft charges. Strange as it may seem, it’s these people that are so thankful to opt in and they are glad I called them.

    • c!tizen says:

      “99.9% will ask what they’re opting in for.”

      82.6759% of statistics are made up on the spot, this is one of them.

      It’s a bit harsh to call the guy stupid for standing up for what he believes and actually doing something about it. I guess he could just, you know, call people stupid on websites and go on with his day… that’ll prove a point!

      • SOhp101 says:

        Actually, it’s not. I work in the financial services industry and virtually EVERYONE has asked me for an explanation when I ask them if they want to opt in. I just didn’t do 100% because I’m sure there is some one random person that will just say “sure.”

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      HE ALREADY TRIED THAT.

      He was already explaining the the overdraft coverage without being deceptive. He wasn’t getting enough people signed up and was going to be fired.

      • SOhp101 says:

        Where in his post(s) does it say he had to sign up a minimum number of people? It just says he had to ‘sell’ the product and nothing more.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          If you “have to sell the product,” then you have a minimum performance standard to meet. That’s what “have to sell the product” means.

          They don’t just go “Oh, shucks, no one wanted it, that’s too bad. I guess we’ll try something else.”

          You’re nearly as dense as a republican. Most corporations aren’t sunshine and roses, they aren’t interested in “trying,” they’re only interested in *immediate and unwavering commitment to toe the company line.*

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          It’s not surprising that I am not getting enough people to opt in. It’s also not surprising that my job here is in serious jeopardy because of this.

    • YdoUthinkURright says:

      I’m with you on this one. He may have been quick to pull the trigger on an emotional decision than think of a way to work it out where he wouldn’t have compromised his morals.

  8. acasto says:

    I cant believe some here actually have the audacity to mock or call this guy stupid. This is how our market is supposed to work. If people were informed and took their business/employment to those establishments that operated in an acceptable manner we would need less unions and lawsuits to force peoples hands instead.

    • Moweropolis says:

      Who here is mocking him? I don’t see any derogatory comments aimed at the OP.

      • tbax929 says:

        There’s an idiot above who did, but I suspect he’s just trolling.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        In the previous thread. Calling him stupid, and essentially telling him to shut up and sell the damned coverage, as “it’s a tough job market, and he can’t afford ethics”. Some even told me that encouraging him in his ethical stand was tantamount to bankrupting his family and driving his kids into the streets, hungry and penniless, and an easy thing for me and others to suggest to him. For a consumer site, this place is lousy with asshats bereft of moral compasses.

    • SOhp101 says:

      I can’t believe some people have the audacity to think that no one wants overdraft coverage. Believe it or not there ARE people that want this on their account. Maybe the average Consumerist reader does not overdraft their accounts but there are other people that do. I cannot for the life of me figure out WHY they do… but they do. Just like how YOU said, it’s a free market and if people choose to use this service, then they should have the freedom to choose it.

      Maybe if his bank was practically forcing him to trick customers into signing up for this service would I think that he would be a hero but it just sounds like he was being whiny about their language and just crossed his arms and refused to do anything about it. He could have easily just laid out the terms plainly to each customer so he can turn around and tell management he was doing his job.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      It’s most likely Bosses and upper management responding as such honesty & distaste. How dare the lowly worker fight back against the supreme bosses. Fear this, it may start a revolution in the ranks.

  9. parabola101 says:

    Wow… =:-)

    I just had this argument with Wells Fargo/Wachovia Bank… the way the letter was worded was VERY deceptive and misleading. I will now have to follow up with the bank in person to ensure that I DO NOT get their additional account “services.”

    The fact that an individual must quit their job to maintain their professional and personal integrity speaks volumes on how corporations justify their behavior.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I will now have to follow up with the bank in person to ensure that I DO NOT get their additional account “services.”

      Why? As long as you didn’t explicitly opt-in then you’ll be opted-out come Sunday.

      • Buckus says:

        I think the issue is that, due to the way it was worded, it was probably not clear which one he should select. For example:

        “If you choose to not-not opt-in to the voluntary opt-in overdraft account protector not opting in, check this box.”

  10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I’d love to be able to quit on principles. But, much like justice, sometimes you just can’t afford it.

    Yeah, so, this extended warranty ROCKS. You should sign up right away.

  11. skakh says:

    Today’s banking industry is such a disgrace. Simply one more example of Republican deregulation! Pretending industry will police itself is just plain stupid. After such things as banking, Oil (BP), and the state of the airlines, I keep wondering what it will take for people to wake up and recognize the GOP for what it is – the enemy of working people everywhere?

    • citking says:

      You’re 100% spot-on. Even now repubs are complaining about the regulations being put in place as being too restricting and too tough on the banking industry. To be honest, I don’t think they did enough. If I was in charge banks would send each of their customers a fiscal report every year in plain English explaining what they did with your deposit accounts, what investments they hold, and how much profit they made.

      My credit union, UW Credit Union in Wisconsin, has always been terrific. They have a “reserve line of credit” that sort of functions like an overdraft account but there’s no fee to use it*. If you overdraft, you can simply transfer money out and pay it back later. The interest rate is a bit high but for a day or two I’ll take it.

      *The only fee is if you don’t catch an overdraft and they have to automatically cover your charges. Then I think it’s like $5, which isn’t unreasonable. The nice part is they do give you until the end of the day to catch any problems.

    • jurupa says:

      And the DNC are the good guys?

      At least when you vote for the GOP you pretty much know what you are getting. The DNC not so much. They [the DNC] act as if they are for the people but then act on behave of businesses on the side.

      • psm321 says:

        Exactly, it’s all one big corporate party with 2 branches to make the people think there’s a choice

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Hear Hear!

  12. adamczar says:

    This guy needs to be put in charge of something important, STAT. Good for him!

  13. Dallas_shopper says:

    That takes BALLS. Bravo to him/her and I hope he/she finds another (better) job soon. +1,000,000.

  14. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    I have a $20 that says “Concerned, but free” left CHASE. :)

    • Southern says:

      I believe you would be mistaken. According to the original article, he is selling a package called “Account Protector”, and after a quick Google search, that appears to be sold only by American Express, Barclays Bank, and HSBC..

      My bet would be HSBC..

  15. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Kudos to the OP, and thanks for the information and links.

    The world would be a fantastic place if more people would live their lives by this standard.

  16. Robofish says:

    +10 good karma. Congrats for sticking to your belief system here. I wish you the best of luck.

  17. sopmodm14 says:

    whats the incentive to opt in ?

    then, negotiate for extra perks when you ask to opt-out

  18. Forrest says:

    My girlfriend just got a call from her bank trying to convince her to opt-in to overdraft protection. She said that she did not want to opt in, she did not want overdraft protection, and she just wanted to let the current protection switch off naturally, without any changes to her account.

    The CSR spent 15 minutes trying to convince her (my gf doesn’t like to hang up on people), using such gems as “this isn’t overdraft protection”, and using double negatives to try to trick her into agreeing. Seriously.

  19. wolf3345us says:

    Just another day working for AT&T…

  20. stlbud says:

    AH! REDEMPTION!!!

    There’s a special place in Hell for bankers.

  21. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Does anyone know if financial institutions have non-competition clauses in their employee contracts?

    In my line work, mid to upper level management all have such clauses — if we quit, we can’t work in the same field in any states that my company does business in for a period of two years. It makes quitting without a very specific plan very difficult.

    • psm321 says:

      Look into whether such clauses are legal in your state. They aren’t in many.

    • trencherman says:

      I know a woman (in a different field) who quit her job, and defied the former employer’s non-compete contract by opening up her own business. They sued, and she won.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Most states only honour very specific, narrowly-defined noncompete clauses. Most states that honour them at all also tend to throw the entire agreement out if so much as a single clause is deemed unenforceable.

  22. JustLurking says:

    People on this site gave me shit for mentioning that the OP (whom I have new found and profound respect for) should get a new job because she mentioned that retail reps just tune out complaining customers and that she hated doing it.

    It should be noted that the Internet doesn’t always lend itself well to discussions with strongly held beliefs. So be it.

    Alas, the OP has stood up for himself. Good for you. Keep up the good fight and thanks for the links to the AG offices. I have yet to be accosted at my bank, but will definitely give them trouble and contact the AG’s office if it happens.

  23. Manny says:

    The bank in this article is most likely Sovereign Bank. They offer their account protector. Check out their website. I complained about this a few weeks ago when it started and immediately identified it as dishonest. Every single time I go in the tellers hammer you with this. I even got a call at home which I ignored. Today I saw the guy in front of me get tricked into signing up for it.

  24. Manny says:

    The bank in this article is most likely Sovereign Bank. They offer their account protector. Check out their website. I complained about this a few weeks ago when it started and immediately identified it as dishonest. Every single time I go in the tellers hammer you with this. I even got a call at home which I ignored. Today I saw the guy in front of me get tricked into signing up for it.

  25. YdoUthinkURright says:

    I’m with you on this one. He may have been quick to pull the trigger on an emotional decision than think of a way to work it out where he wouldn’t have compromised his morals.