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Rich: It’s biscuits, not APRs that make the bank

POSTED: March 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Dixie Dew and I quit a bank I’ve been doing business with for 15 years, marking the first time in 20 years that I have closed a financial account.

They ran out of doggie biscuits one time too many.

Obviously, I’m pretty loyal. It takes a lot to run me off. But to add insult to injury, the tellers always laughed when they announced, "We’re out of treats."

I don’t want to bank with mean people who laugh at a precious dachshund whose head is hanging over the window with pleading eyes. One who pitifully crawls back over to her seat and withdraws sadly as though her heart will never mend.

I figure if they’re jovial about that, they’ll be dancing in the aisles with joy if someone misses a credit card payment. If that happened, they’d probably make you sit in a corner and memorize their annual report.

This particular bank branch is within 30 yards of four stores. Had they truly cared about customer service, the problem could have been solved quickly and conveniently. Ninety five percent of customer service is about small things because most customers never need anything of huge significance.

A while back, I had dinner in Palm Springs, Calif., with several folks, including the chairman of one of the nation’s most prominent banking companies. He sat next to me. Through the course of the evening, we became chums.

"Do you bank with us?" he asked. I have learned that if you sit next to a company executive during a meal, he or she will always ask if you use their products or services.

I hesitated then shook my head, smiling in a consoling fashion.

"You don’t give doggie biscuits," I replied softly.

His eyebrows flew up and he looked genuinely baffled. "What?"

I explained that Dew and I always choose our banks — we use more than one — based on who gives doggie biscuits. A week after Palm Springs, I got a handwritten note from the bank chairman. "Thank you," he wrote. "We are now giving doggie biscuits throughout our company. Someone here should have thought of that."

So, after seeing Dew gravely disappointed on repeated treatless trips to the bank, I could take it no longer. A mother just can’t watch her child suffer repeatedly.

Aggravated, I drove away and headed to two banks across the street. I marched into both and announced I was looking at moving an account over. Bankers love this. Fresh meat, you know. So, they swarmed around me happily.

"I have an important question," I said to one.

She smiled and nodded. "I promise we’ll give you the best interest rate."

"It’s more important than that." I leaned forward in my chair. "Do you ever run out of doggie biscuits?"

She blinked then gathered her words. "Well, well, no, not really." She cleared her throat. "If we ever do, we go straight out to the store and get more immediately."

Good answer.

Dew and I were lucky. We found a bank with an abundance of doggie treats and an interest rate that was many times higher than I was making across the street. The day we opened our new account, I put on my high heels and Dew put on her prettiest hat — the one with purple flowers and green feathers — and marched with great pomp and ceremony into the lobby.

Other customers turned slowly and gazed interestedly upon Dew. Rightly so. She was quite lovely.

We deposited the money we had demanded back from the mean bank and sweet Erin, our new personal banker, gifted Dew with a basket full of treats. Not once since then have they run out of treats so we’re both very happy.

We’re also in agreement. We would never treat a dog the way that other bank treated Dew.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)." Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com.



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