My wife, Muri, is perhaps the most patient person I know. She’s put up with me … and my Inner Curmudgeon … for all these years, hasn’t she? When we are out to dinner and there is an annoying person at a nearby table, she has an amazing ability to tune them out, while I have an amazing ability to hear nothing but that person. While my Inner Curmudgeon is always looking around for someone to grouse about, Muri is usually happy to let others be. She frequently tells me that her Mom, Violet, told her, If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, and she generally lives by her Mom’s maxim. I don’t think anyone has ever called Muri a curmudgeon(ette). But occasionally, Muri goes to the bank, and being an old-fashioned woman, she likes to go into the bank instead of using the ATM. And on those days, she becomes The Occasional Curmudgeonette. Yesterday, when she got home from the bank, she did something she’s never done before … she said, You have to write a post about those people. She then proceeded to give me a play-by-play of her visit. I actually have mentioned our local Wells Fargo bank’s obsequious customer service once before in my post, Giving All Zeros, but if they can tick off Muri, they deserve a return engagement, so I’ll do my best to retell her story.
When you enter our Wells Fargo bank, there is always a well-dressed greeter at the door, a woman in a stylish skirt or a man in a suit. They are so young they could be going to the prom. How are you today? they say, smiling as if they’ve achieved Nirvana. How may I direct you? You want to say, Why don’t you do something useful? but people our age have been taught to be polite, so you say, I just need to deposit a check. A teller will be with you in a minute, says the greeter, directing you to the line you’ve found on your own a thousand times. If the line is long, there’s a 75% probability that someone else will stop by to comment on at length the beautiful day and wonder what you’ll be doing after you leave the bank. Oh, yes and Would you be interested in talking to someone about refinancing? Then, it’s the teller’s turn to grace you with a beatific smile and it’s-so-good-to-see-you-again. Once she has your card, she knows your name and is determined to show how personal her service is by using it. So, you want this deposited in the checking account, Muriel. It’s a lovely day outside, you’re so lucky to be out an about. Do you have any special plans for the weekend? (That one really gets Muri. What the heck do they care what my plans are? she says) Then there’s the pitch: Is there anything else we can do for you? Would you like to schedule a financial consultation with one of our experts? All you want to do is escape before you scream, Stop smiling, dammit! But you get to deal with the grinning greeter one more time on the way out. Did we provide everything you needed today? You really don’t wanna know, kid.
Here’s the thing. After months of welcome this and we-value-your-business that … we’ve been a customer for 39 years … when we were offered a good rate for refinancing by BluFi of California, we decided to see if our old friends at Wells Fargo would be interested in demonstrating their fondness for us with something more than smiles and platitudes. You guessed it … they couldn’t even match the BluFi rate. But they did note that they do a better job of shredding loan documents than most small companies. Sheesh.
So, here’s what my Occasional Curmudgeonette wants to know. Does this sort of obsequious customer service bother anyone else as much as it bothers her? She knows, of course, my answer.