Banks: Customer Service Mystery Round 2 Million.

David Gluzman April 14th, 2008

Frustrated with my Bank.. Nothing new there, I’m pretty sure everyone is frustrated to some extent with their bank. But here’s my quick snapshot.

Bank of Montreal (BMO), been with them for over 20 years. I’m simply a number in their database. I have several accounts, including business accounts. Over the years I’ve dealt with several bank people from there who have dealt with my accounts, the past 5+ years however I’ve had no one to talk to (mystery #1). Oh and since they are generally never open outside of weirdo bank hours, my current customer service level equals pretty much zero.

My most recent example of being a tad more annoyed than usual with BMO is the following case. Checking out my savings account and noticing that my interest was significantly lower than what I’m used to, didn’t think too much of it, then figured why not contact their online support. Over a week goes by and I get a message stating the following:

I can confirm the interest rates have gone down in the last couple of months. To confirm, the interest rate on our Premium Rate Savings (PRS) account is currently 1.500% on balances up to $59,999.99 and 3.000% on balances of $60,000.00 and over.

Hmm.. Really? My response (which btw starts a whole new “case” because once a customer service rep replies to you the case is officially closed) was one of surprise (well not real surprise, more like expected disappointment) of why they wouldn’t a) tell me and b) why in general?

I’m going to extinguish my grumbling to just this one case for now, but lets just say I’m pretty much near the end of the line here.


Soooo! I’ve looked around briefly and noticed that even the Royal Bank is offering 3% on ANY balance, and ING is offering 3.3% (no fees, no balance etc) as well. So my question here is where do you bank? Are you happy? Recommendations?

God I love banks.

  • I used to bank at BMO, and have since switched to PC Financial. PCF seems to be built strictly for online and phone use, which is the only way I’ve ever dealt with banks anyway. But I don’t think there’s any real incentive unless you shop at President’s Choice, since the carrot they use is credits towards shopping. We shop there once a month, and the end result is we’re happy enough with it.

  • Natalia

    I too hate BMO. Our mortgage was a disaster and 3 years later, I’m still trying to get things sorted out. Currently, I can’t even do my taxes until they get my home buyers plan documentation fixed, we are being asked to pay back $6000 that we never borrowed because of their error. Recently, I spoke to 8 different people, even using some of my limited flex time to go home for documents (even though they had all my information already) and was promised a phone call from the bank manager. That was a month and a half ago. Tax time is upon us and I either pay back money I didn’t borrow, or file my taxes late. Thanks BMO. I transferred everything else to RBC after getting a better rate from them on a car loan, a bank I’ve never dealt with before, than my bank of 20 years. (Don’t even let me get started on my first car loan through BMO) At RBC we felt like they were OUR bank and not just a place I put my money.

  • Ducati AGB

    They have you in a perfect spot because they know that you need them, and the service the offer can be sub par because there are so many customers. They don’t care if you leave, so you can either waste your own time finding another one, where you will get the same dismal level of service or stick with what you got.

  • Ah banks. I have been with RBC for 17 years now, and will be calling it quits in the next few weeks. I still remember getting my first Tiger account and looking at my book update with a penny here and a penny there. I am changing mainly because they are raising their monthly fees, but also because I have accounts in different provinces, which causes me a hassle because I cannot freely transfer funds between them (which makes sense, I guess). Either way, I’m going to try a new bank and see how it goes.

  • I was just checking out HSBC.. sounds intriguing..

  • I am a CIBC user, but they pay literally no interest (0.3% or something), so I moved my extra cash into ING.

    It *used* to be 3.65% @ ING but recently went down to 3.3% due to overnight interest rates falling. Sign-up for ING is a bit of a pain, you need to sign up online and then mail in a cheque linked to your “brick and mortars” bank. After that you need to call up and verify yourself. Then finally it works, but once signed up there have been no issues. They put a 5 day hold on my transfers in and then CIBC puts a 5 day hold on my transfers out, so it is best used for “long term savings” and not money that you’ll need in a month or something.

    It is easy to use, zero fees, no minimum balance and I got my tax info online by PDF at the beginning of March, which is a bonus for someone like me to likes to file ASAP.

    I dealt with HSBC both in Canada and when I was in the UK. It was great in the UK, but customer service in Canada seems to be completely geared towards Asian clients. I opened an account and had so many problems I closed it without even putting any money in. A nightmare.

    So I wouldn’t suggest you go all-in in ING, but for a high interest savings account, I’d recommend it. CIBC is ok. I like TD’s hours better but can’t be bothered to change. You could look into credit unions for your brick & mortar account and use ING for savings, if you don’t really care about ATM useage then that may work for you.

  • Update.

    So this evening as I was preparing dinner I received a call from India.. Sorry I mean BMO. Unsolicited, but somewhat coincidental.

    They called to tell me how much they have appreciated my business over the years, and how they’d like to offer me an outstanding deal on a line of credit! Wait a minute, doesn’t that mean I’d be giving you MORE business?

    I regress.. Anyways, I told the rep that I wasn’t interested as I was in the midst of re-evaluating my banking service provider (BSP?), and brought her up to speed on the stuff I’ve been blogging about. She was surprisingly sympathetic and promised to do her best to make sure things got better for me.. Including the following: Talking to my branch manager, looking into raising my interest rating on my savings account, and getting someone to follow up with me regarding the lack of service I general receive from BMO.

    I should expect a follow up call from her in one week.

    Anyways.. I find it all creepily coincidental.

  • Man I can’t remember ANY time a bank has called me at home. I usually just get phoned with crappy Mastercard offers, and since M/C is still on the ban list from 10 years ago, no deal.

  • I’ve had my share of BMO problems myself. I used them for a personal line of credit when I was in school and was more than happy to close the account when I was done with it. They offered me nothing more than a pile of shit as far as customer service. Since then I’ve been using PC Financial and CIBC for business account stuff. It pays to have a face to talk to when dealing with business account stuff. Since getting a mortgage I’ve been forced to work with RBC (the wife’s decision). I’m okay with them…but my contact with them is minimal. Personally..PCF is the way to go, although I’ve had ‘blunders’ with them too. I figure it’s like a cellphone…they all suck, it’s just a matter of who sucks less.

  • More replies from Customer Serivce (web):

    With regards to the rate, please be advised it is stated on our site that our rates are subject to change at anytime. As the interest rate on our PRS account is based on our prime rate, the rates will fluctuate depending on any changes which are made to the Prime Rate and regrettably, communication with regards to these changes will not be mailed to the client.

    I regret if you were previously not aware of this structure. Please be advised, it is important that each client review their monthly statement as soon as it is received to report any difference that they may notice, so that we may provide any information necessary.

    This part is my fav:

    I would like to assure you that BMO Bank of Montreal strives to provide a high level of service and we hope that you will allow us another opportunity to show our commitment to customer service.

    Regrettably, I am unable to advise you as to when the rates would rise, in the foreseeable future, for our Premium Rate Savings account.

    In order to earn a better rate of interest, you may wish to consider our Cashable Rate Riser GIC which is the most flexible Rate Riser option. This three-year GIC earns a competitive guaranteed rate of interest that grows each year, with the flexibility to cash in your investment at certain times. It is cashable in full on the 15th day of each month during the first year, and on the first and second anniversary of the issue date.

    Nice.. So make me feel dumb, hide the rates, AND then try and sell me on GICs.. Classic Bank move.

  • Indeed. They are not required to give notice on interest rate moves, I doubt you’ll find any bank who would email you to tell you rates are moving up or down – they are free to set rates given the context of the market. You, however, are free to move your cash into a different account at a different organization which pays higher interest. Interest rates are non-negotiable really, unlike mortgages for example.

    I was looking at my ING account – at the beginning of Jan it was 3.75%, end of Jan 3.65% and recently moved to 3.3%. They didn’t email me or anything, but that being said it was easy to see the prevailing rate on their webpage. Interest rates have been cut in Canada and the US recently so this decline is completely expected. And whenever I look at GIC rates they are usually only a couple tenths of a percent higher than an equivalent high interest savings account at ING or whatever, so not enough incentive to lock the money up.

    The bigger issue, I think, is the lack of a customer service touch point for a business account. IMO you can complain more about that than the lack of notification on interest rate moves.

    Oh and yeah – don’t hold your breath for a prime rate increase in the next 12 months, won’t happen.

  • From the ING website:

    Investment Savings Account (ISA) 3.30%
    US$ Investment Savings Account (US$ ISA) 1.75% (due to lower interest rates in the US)
    Short Term Guaranteed Investment (GIC) 90 day 3.20%, 180 day 3.25%, 270 day 3.30%
    Guaranteed Investment (GIC) 1 year 3.50%, 2 year 3.30%, 3 year 3.50%, 4 year 3.75%, 5 year 4.00%

    Sooooo, your benefit for locking in for 5 years is 0.7% while there is an actual cost of getting a GIC over a savings account with terms <1 year. Realistically the only reason people should want a GIC in this type of market is if they have over $100,000 in an account as each savings account is only guaranteed by the CDIC to that amount.

    Also interesting how the 2 year GIC rate is lower than the 1 year – shows that the market is telling us right now that interest rates will be lower this time next year than they are right now.

  • I noticed the ING Investment Savings Account interest rate is down to 3.00% due to the BoC cutting rates by 0.25% on Tuesday.

    They want to make me spend my money by lowering the interest rate on me.