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It’s almost the end of 2008. Looking back, how many times did you visit the home branch of your bank in the past year? In the past 5 years? How many of your bank’s staff would you recognise in a Starbucks line? How many would recognise you?

In the old days, practically every financial transaction had to be done in person, but with automatic deposits and withdrawals and ATMs, it’s not unusual for people to go months or even (as I can attest) years without visiting their home branch in person.

During most of the 10 years I banked at my local credit union (a location literally 30 metres from my doorstep), I had been an infrequent, and unremarkable, client. Between the aforementioned automatic withdrawals and deposits and ATMs, I had managed to avoid visiting more than 1 or two times a year for most of my membership. I had in fact spent more time with my bank manager in a Starbucks line than in the bank itself, but that meant nothing because I didn’t know who she was – until later…

In the spring of 2007 something very regrettable happened: I saw a cashier at a small store double-swipe my bank card, and I suddenly very much needed to visit my branch, to change the pin number on my card.

This came on the heels of another very regrettable incident, which was that a person whose name had been on my main bank account suffered identity theft, and in fact his identity thief had fraudulently tried to open an account in his name at my bank.

The upshot was, when I showed up, ID in hand, expecting it to be easy to change my PIN number, I was instead treated with suspicion, and ultimately derision, as a non-entity carrying the baggage of (what seemed to them as) a scurrilous defrauding ex-boyfriend, and a suspicious story about needing to change a pin number AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

With a lot of wrangling, the intervention of a sensible bank manager (maybe she did recognise me from Starbucks – I know I made her laugh that one time!), and several obnoxious threats from the teller of permanent cautionary notes on my file, I did finally manage to get my pin number changed, but I left the bank feeling insignificant and demoralised.

Soon after, I took on employment where I was paid by cheque, and thereafter I became a regular visitor to the bank at least once a week, to make a deposit in person. Remarkably, I very soon discarded the persona non grata moniker, and became instead a VIP at my bank, with even the disapproving teller obsequiously offering me special favours whenever I showed up at her wicket.

The correlation is clear: By visiting the bank regularly, I made myself known, and however illogical that notion was, it engendered a sense of trust from the staff. And no, it wasn’t just because the spectre of my ex’s bad credit faded into the background – on the contrary, the combination of my ex’s woes and my own struggle at the branch had become notorious, part of the bank’s personal history, in a way. They’re still talking about it almost 2 years later!!

So the moral of the story is: membership has its privileges, but for the real payoff – especially when you have special, unusual or high-level requests – being memorable is a quality you can bank on.

2 Responses to “How to be a big shot at your bank”

  1. I found this really interesting. I hardly ever visit my bank!
    I am visiting Vancouver blogs to ask if you might help get the word out. I am offering Soul Gifts: The World’s Self-Help Book for free downloading – there is a lot of Vancouver area content with Grouse Mountain, Long John Baldry, BC Cancer Instutute taking front stage. As well a park’s attendant has about 6,000 words in the book. This can be found at http://www.shandarrah.com. My blog also deals with a lot of the items I see you have listed in terms of health. All best. We eat turkey dinner this evening. Love Barbara J. Gill, New Brunswick and a lover of Vancouver. xo

  2. Hi Barbara:

    Sure, I’ll help you spread the word. Good luck with it! I’ll check out your blog as well.

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