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February 18, 2009

Justification in Firing

I fired Bank of America as my bank a few months ago.

These were my reasons:
  • During the first days of the financial crisis, Bank of America had bought Countrywide, which made lots of bad loans, plus they ended up buying Merrill Lynch since they were in trouble as well. I was afraid these now bad decisions were going to come back to haunt them and screw up my finances if they were taken over.

  • Because of their merger with Countrywide, Bank of America decided that they needed to integrate all of their computer systems together so everyone was under one umbrella. Apparently their Military Bank was not under that umbrella, so I was going to have to have my accounts moved over. That meant I was going to be forced to get new account numbers, checks, and debit cards from them.

  • Their savings account rate, which was already crappy, got even crappier.

  • They are beholden to their stockholders, so they care more about turning a profit than about providing good service to the ones who are funding their operations, the customers.
So I looked at my options and ultimately went with USAA. I decided that the risk of not having any branches area was not a big enough issue to make the switch. Besides, if BofA was going to try to force me to change all of my accounts, why not use the opportunity to switch to another bank? I switched over, then closed my accounts with BofA a month later when they started charging me a fee to have my checking account since there was no direct deposit with them anymore.

Recent events have brought further justification for firing Bank of America as my bank. I had cashed a few savings bonds with BofA a few months ago when I had a car repair emergency; since the interest is reported to the IRS, I needed a form 1099 from them so I could put it down on my taxes.  Just like a W-2, a 1099 has to be mailed out by the 31st of January. Well today is February 17, and I still have no form. I had checked the BofA website and they said if I had not seen my form by the 15th to call BofA for it.

I called them this morning, explained I was no longer a customer but I had cashed savings bonds while I was a customer and had not seen my 1099 form. She told me I had to call the savings bond department and gave me a number to call.  I called it...it was the phone number to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where you could get information on current bond interest rates, the mailing address, and the web address of the savings bond department. That was not what I needed! Now it was time to kick it up to another level.

I invoked BofA's presence on Twitter, telling the help guy that I still had no 1099, was given a bad number, and I was pissed. Within minutes, I was given a phone number to call, the number that the banking associates use when they're calling about your account. After calling and them asking me a few questions, supposedly they're going to send out a duplicate, and I should get it in five days. We shall see if it happens.

Before I got the number, I called the IRS to see if there was a way I can get my 1099 from them. Apparently if I have no 1099 and if I have made a reasonable effort to try and get it from the "payer" I can make a formal complaint to the IRS. If I don't see my 1099 by next Wednesday (that gives a time frame of six mailing days) I am giving them a call. I want to get my taxes done, and this is what is holding me up. I got all of my other forms about 3 weeks ago, and if I didn't have to wait for this one, I could have been done already!

So between having to call BofA in the first place, then being given bad information because the rep only heard the word "savings bonds" and followed a quick script to get me off of the phone, and still having to wait additional time because they don't send these forms electronically, it was the right decision to fire them as my bank.