In response to my recent article about Bank of America customers upset that their accounts were sold to Camden National Bank, other people have reached out to share their experiences with me. So I thought I’d share them with you.
And, to be clear, in the cases I’ve heard about, no one is upset about having their accounts sold because they don’t like the buyer. No one is faulting Camden National, which was handed the list of accounts associated with the transaction. They all center around BofA’s selecting accounts to sell without asking their owner. (Though commenters in the original story do allege that Camden National’s customer service has not been stellar in the current situation.)
John Bannister from Blue Hill called me to tell me about his mother, who spends winters in a condo in Florida. For most of the year she lives in Blue Hill and is a customer of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, but for those few months a year when she’s in Florida she wanted a local bank. So about seven years ago she opened a Bank of America account in Florida for the sole purpose of using that account when she’s wintering there.
When she’s back in Maine, she switches the address attached to the account to the one in Blue Hill so she doesn’t miss any important notices. That apparently proved her undoing. Despite the fact the account was opened in Florida and all the account activity took place in Florida, BofA flagged it when it started selecting accounts to sell.
Bannister called BofA to ask the bank to keep the Florida account open, but “no common sense could prevail,” he said.
Besides Mainers who winter in Florida, another population that was sure to be affected by what appears to be a less-than-perfect process is college students.
Matt Alexander, 22, grew up in Hampden, but has attended Syracuse University for the past four years. He graduated in May, moved to New York City over the summer and recently started his first job in the retail textile industry. He hasn’t lived in Maine permanently in five years.
He opened a BofA account in Syracuse because it was convenient, there were branches near his university and at home in Maine, and he liked the bank’s mobile banking platform.
His banking fiasco occurred because he was a recent college grad without a permanent address. After graduating, but before having located an apartment in NYC, an address-less Alexander told BofA to send mailings associated with account to his parent’s home in Maine. As a result, despite the fact the account was opened in New York and all its activity happened in New York, his account was thrown into the pot to be sold to Camden National.
He didn’t even realize his account was being transferred until last week when a Camden National representative called him to welcome him to the bank. “I was completely shocked,” he says.
The news didn’t make any sense to him. “There’s no Camden National in New York City, so there’s no sense in me having an account with them,” he says.
The Camden National representative said there was nothing they could do. “They were unfriendly in the sense that they weren’t sensitive to the fact this was the first time hearing this,” Alexander says. “But beyond this, they didn’t let me know of any other options.”
The whole process seems ludicrous to Alexander. “As a college student, you’re transient. You don’t have a stable address in those four years,” he says. “I just felt like I had no say in the matter. It just happened and there was nothing I could do.”
BofA reps weren’t any help either. They told him the best option would be to close his Camden National account after the transfer and open a new one with BofA. “But I was so fed up with it I decided to go with another bank,” he says.
Alexander closed his BofA account this week and opened a new account with Chase Bank, including the hassle of re-setting up a direct deposit.
“I’m hoping Chase will be a bit better,” he says.