Have you decided to make the switch from a bank to a credit union or to simply transfer banks? Many consumers are doing just that – especially in light of rising bank fees, the recent Bank Transfer Day and the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement.
While you can just visit your local branch and sign papers to close up your account, why not make your grand exit far more memorable? You don’t have to be a rude and unruly (former) customer to get your point across, but you can be creative with your goodbye message.
Remember that JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, who cursed out an unruly passenger, announced over a microphone that he was quitting his job, and then grabbed a beer and slid down an emergency evacuation chute to make his grand exit?
Well, I’m not suggesting that you go over-the-top like he did. But I do think you can channel a wee bit of your inner Steven Slater in order to make a lasting impression when you call it quits with a bank.
Here are some (civil) ideas about leaving your bank in memorable fashion.
Write a “Dear John” letter to the head honcho at your bank
How to do this? Identify the address of the bank’s executive offices. Look up the CEO or president of your bank, or even just the person in charge of customer relations.
Write a properly formatted letter to one or more of these people and send it to them via certified mail returned receipt requested.
The letter should be professional, not nasty. But it can be written in a “Dear John” style as people do when they’re breaking up or ending a relationship.
And do put your reasons in writing as opposed to simply telling someone why you’re taking your business elsewhere.
Letters have more impact. They’re usually read in a quiet moment when you have the reader’s undivided attention.
What you say will leave the reader with an impression about you – and how that institution has treated you.
Make a Grand Entrance/Exit
Call branch ahead of time. Ask for an appointment to meet with the branch manager. If asked why, say you want to discuss the possible growth or closure of your account and you need the manager.
If the manager gives you an audience, explain your complaints, and watch them squirm as you proclaim at the end of the meeting that you want to close your account.
Tip: If you’re not a good speaker, practice your speech and rehearse what you want to say; index cards can also help you remember everything.
If they refuse to meet with you, put their refusal to hear directly from a customer as yet another complaint in the letter you send (in idea #1 above).
Join With 4 or More Other Disgruntled Customers
Imagine going into a bank as a group of people – at least 5 of you. You’ll all be talking and chatting as you enter and then you each proceed to the teller’s line.
One by one, each of you closes your account. That will be memorable – particularly for the teller who’s handling the transactions.
He or she won’t know when the “close my account” parade is ending. Oh, and other customers standing in line will undoubtedly hear and see what’s going on too.
Start Closing One Account at a Time, In Person
If you have multiple accounts at a bank – and it’s not uncommon for people to have a checking account, savings account, money market account and so on at the same place – start closing them one by one, one day at a time. The first time you do this, a bank representative will undoubtedly ask why you’re terminating that account.
Simply say: “Actually, I’m in the process of shutting down all my accounts here. This is just the first.” Leave it up to the bank teller to figure out what other accounts you have.
But one thing’s for sure: Every time you go into that branch, that teller, and probably the co-workers they tell, will cringe.
If your bank has a Facebook page or a Twitter account, take your message online directly to them – and to anyone else who visits their social networking sites.
Also, see if your local bank branch has any feedback or comments on sites that track local businesses and their reputation. Post your notice of closure there too. And there’s nothing to stop you from making a YouTube video if you’re really feeling creative.
Don’t rant and rave and go off like a mad person. Don’t lie or make exaggerated claims. Simply say why you were dissatisfied and why you chose to take your business elsewhere. Going online – and possibly going viral – is one technique sure to get you more than a few eyeballs; from within and outside the bank you’ve left.
None of these strategies will make you look like a nut job. On the contrary, you’ll come across as a disgruntled, but clear-headed and empowered consumer.
That just might be the best message of all to send when you’re cutting ties with a bank.
What other creative (and legal!) ways can someone end his or her banking relationship? Sound off on this topic.