Minutiae · September 26, 2008

Wamu Schadenfreude

I usually use a credit union for all of my financial needs. Most of the time it is all I need.

But at one point in time, I thought I needed a real bank account. I’ve been a member of Wells Fargo in the past, and hated the way that they treated me. The same goes for Bank of America. I closed both of those accounts over a decade ago.

But Washington Mutual was different. They were fast, friendly, efficient. They didn’t treat me like a number. I thought they were great!

Then I realized, it was only their tellers that I thought were great. I didn’t realize that Washington Mutual the company really didn’t like my kind.

I opened the account, but never did direct deposit to it. As my plans fell through, I used the account only sporadically. After a while, I let the balance fall to about $50, and kept it that way for a year. (I was still looking at getting my plans going again.)

Then one day I got a letter saying that my account was being closed. Three days later I got a check for about $25, which was about $20 less than I had in my account. I don’t know exactly what happened to the rest of the money in the account, and didn’t bother to find out. I suppose they justified it as a fee of some sort.

I completely realize that I wasn’t their preferred type of customer. And I guess I was costing them more than it was worth to keep my account going. But the reason why I even joined Wamu was that they weren’t supposed to charge me at all to keep my account open! When they closed my account, their radio commercials were STILL advertising “Totally Free Checking”. Sure it’s free. Until they close it because you’re a milquetoast customer!

I don’t have that letter anymore. I didn’t pursue it because there were a lot of other things going on in my life at the time. Still, this was one more piece of cruddy news. I said something foul and pithy, deposited the check in my credit union, and moved on.

Last month I was thinking of reopening a Wamu account for CVAAS. I’m glad I waited. My credit union was happy to open another account for me. And they will happily open a non-profit business account too, when we are ready.

On another note, I’m a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union – I’ve been a member for over 20 years now. I let it go idle when I moved back to California, and haven’t touched it for a decade.

I still get monthly emailed statements from them. I still get occasional newsletters and offers from them. When I came to California, my account had about $10 in it, and through interest it has grown to over $30. I haven’t written a check or withdrawn or deposited money to the account in all that time. I occasionally update my user information online.

Credit unions rock.