Too thrifty by half

Once a great institution

Once a great institution


Saving money is good: a business shouldn’t spend any more than it needs to.  It’s wise to run with a lean staff and no excess employees.

The Bank of America on Telegraph Avenue, however, has taken this concept to an absurd extreme.

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There are 13 teller windows in this very large bank, but they currently run with only two tellers.  That just isn’t enough.

For the 16 years I’ve been working at Fat Slice and going to this B of A, there has always been a merchant teller–a person dedicated to working with the businesses of the area.  I didn’t have to wait in line with the hoi polloi, my teller was more experienced and capable, with more authority to handle larger deposits.  That’s all gone now; merchants get to wait in line with the students

I wanted some coin wrappers, an item the bank provided its customers because it no longer has coin counting machines.  The teller gave me a tiny supply that might last 3 days.  B of A is saving money in every area, customer service be damned.

It’s one thing to run your organization lean and hungry, it’s another thing entirely to cut service levels below the basics needs of the operation.  If there was another commercial bank within walking distance I’d change in a second.

Service at the bank is now so bad that I seriously wonder if they are in deep financial trouble and on the verge of failure.  This is one of the nations largest banks, deemed “too big to fail”, but they are either being seriously mismanaged or they simply don’t have the cash to operate properly.  In either case, this situation can’t really continue.  Customers won’t like it and will desert, staff won’t like it and employee turnover will be a problem.  This branch simply cannot survive at this level of staffing, and there is no justification for using the many thousand expensive square feet of space for two tellers.

B of A was founded as the Bank of Italy by A. P. Giannini, and I have to believe that Mr. Giannini would be horrorstruck to see what has happened to his creation.  There is no customer orientation, no service, no interest in making the banking experience pleasant or convenient for the customer.

You probably shouldn’t take investment advice from a blogger, but if I had stock in this bank I’d sell it immediately.  If they aren’t on the verge of bankruptcy, they sure are trying to look like it.

Can anyone recommend a good commercial bank in Berkeley?



2 thoughts on “Too thrifty by half

  1. bank america is one of the least customer friendly banks with which i’ve dealt. more than any bank, they depend on confounding telephone menus and non-customer friendly business hours on the weekends. on a local level, they are adequate, at the most. good article!

  2. Remember that BoA was bought by Nations Bank out of Charlotte. They kept the BoA name, but the whole corporate structure of BoA, which used to be HQed in SFO is now the renamed Nations out of Charlotte. BoA has had only minor staffing cutbacks at my branch here in Mill Creek WA. but I’ll keep a lookout for anything else.

    One theory on this change: If the preponderance of accounts are from the “students” with little yield for the bank, then perhaps they are staffing to meet the “value” of their customers. Customers worth less bank revenue = less service for them.

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