Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Big Bank stupidity

Big Banks just don’t have sense.  Here’s a plug for the small, community based bank.

From a list-serv where I’m a member, (Virginia chapter, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) I picked up two stories illustrating the abject stupidity of big banks.

The first comes from my friend Ken Labowitz, a lawyer in Alexandria, VA.
  • Perhaps my attitude here is influenced by this afternoon's confrontation with SunTrust Bank.  I am co-guardian and co-conservator in a case with my colleague Anne ****.  The appointment is specifically written to say about six times that "either may act as Conservator".  With regard to drilling a safety deposit box, SunTrust is insisting that both of us be present.  No negotiation, no discussion possible, just both of us have to be present because SunTrust says so.
After Ken posted his story, another colleague responded:
  • I think there must be special secret laws about safety deposit boxes. Wachovia insisted that I could not access a box to which I had a key, I am the executor under the will, and I gave them the death certificate of the owner and a copy of my appointment.  They required that the agent under the decedent's POA come into the bank and authorize me to have access to the box!
(apparently Wachovia is too stupid to know that a power of attorney dies with the person who issued it.)

And finally, one of my own experiences and how I handled it.
  • I was appointed guardian/conservator for a lady with a house subject to a mortgage held by BB&T. The judge inserted a bunch of stuff in the order appointing me (if he'd been around in time of Moses he'd have taken a hammer & chisel to the 10 Commandments!).

  • BB&T did not have a deposit account for the person, instead that person  owed BB&T money. I inquired about the balance and payment status and presented my order and qualification papers so I could PAY BB&T.  The order was sent 'downtown' somewhere and the response came back "we need proof that the judge made all those changes before we give access". My response was quick, to the point, and effective:  "Other than you, who should I subpoena to Court so the Judge can verify this?"

  • I got the information.  Later I told hizzoner the story and he laughed.

In all these cases the banks were dealing with experienced lawyers with appropriate documentation and identification. But the banks substituted their stupidity for three separate court orders conferring legal authority on my colleagues (and me). Other than my ‘subpoena’ threat, I’ve had to threaten to write the various regulatory bodies with a formal complaint – and I made sure the flunky I was dealing with knew their name would be included – or legal action, or all of the above.  I’ve suggested that they go ahead and prepare a memorandum of events as their superiors and the home office legal department will want to know why they have to respond to my complaints.  So far they’ve blinked, but one of these days, probably soon,  .  .  . 

Local, Community based banks, are a whole lot easier to deal with.  Their front line people can think and (unlike those in big banks) are usually authorized to do so.  If there is something I think unreasonable, I easily get to someone up the chain; sometimes it’s not the bank’s fault, it’s the regulators stupidity that makes them do it. (Yes, another blog at another time) In the Roanoke area, from personal experience, I can recommend Stellar One and Valley Bank – good service and great people.

PS: full disclosure – I own stock in BB&T and Suntrust. Inherited it.


  1. So you are back to ranting and raving about the big banks huh??? I think that that has always been one of your favorite subjects.

    However, I am left a little hurt. You failed to include any comment about the fact that both your former secretary, now a Northern Virginia Attorney, and your shadow, now a Roanoke attoreny,have picked up on your ability to threaten banks and such. Both learned how to handle the big boys and put them in thier place as a result of your tutelage.

  2. And the Northern Virginia attorney thanks you for your tutelage:)