It’s never easy returning to work after New Year’s. Conventional wisdom has it that your first day back at work after the new year is the most depressing day of the year. If you think you had a rough week, think again. You probably don’t work for Bank of America’s PR division, and they had the worst week ever, as far as we’re concerned.
A Terrible Investment
The punches started on the long weekend, when CNN Money reported that Bank of America’s stock (NYSE: BAC) was the single worst performer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2011, meaning all the 29 other stocks on the DJIA did better than Bank of America last year, which managed to shed 58% of its value in that time period.
Think of it this way: had you invested $100 with BofA on January 1st, 2011, you would have $42 on December 31st, 2011. Now imagine you had invested $1,000 or $1,000,000. If I have my terminology straight, that is what is what Wall Street types call a “terrible, terrible investment.”
While market capitalization is not your main concern as a consumer, customer service almost certainly is, when you’re shopping for a place to park your life savings, or become an indentured slave to for 30 years in the form of a mortgage. Bank of America didn’t fail to make news in this department, dear reader. They did quite well.
Recall that Bank of America had already made headlines in December, when an Atlanta couple was forced to degrade themselves on YouTube just to get the bank to approve their loan. On the heels of this story, an Albany area Bank of America refused to deposit checks for a newlywed woman because she had kept her maiden name, while the checks had been made out to Mr. and Mrs. Peter Iorizzo.
What they did not know is that Mr. Peter Iorizzo is a columnist for the Times-Union, an Upstate newspaper, and he was livid. In retaliation, he used his column space to take the bank’s inconsistent and rude customer service standards to task. Like Lennie in Of Mice and Men, Bank of America is just too large to understand its own strength and control its fine motor functions. It’s not that they’re cruel — they love bunnies! — they’re just too big to know what they’re doing.
Iorizzo’s new wife, by the way, just had to go to another nearby branch to get her checks deposited. Be sure to bring cash or a toaster next time you go to a BofA customer’s wedding.
Foreclosure for a Typo
As if this weren’t embarrassing enough, BofA almost foreclosed on a man who accidentally underpaid on his modified mortgage payments by $0.80. Making a payment for his newly modified mortgage over the phone, a Florida man named Tom Mudie accidentally pressed ’0r42; instead of ’8r42;, thereby shorting Bank of America roughly what it costs to buy a candy bar or can of soda.
Bank of America initially requested the 80 cents in check form, then returned the payment, along with the initial short payment, and kicked him out of the loan modification program. He was about to be foreclosed on until someone at the bank recognized the mistake. Turns out, a computer automatically kicked him out of the program, and almost out of his home.
See, it was just a computer glitch, not a human error, that almost removed Mr. Mudie from his home. Isn’t that comforting?
When your branch employees are seemingly unaware of how marriages work, and you’re willing to put foreclosure proceedings in the hands of robots, you might as well be trying to make your company look terrible. But Bank of America isn’t trying to be so bad towards their customers, they’re just too big and clumsy to not to. If Bank of America decides to go the extra step, there’s always next week!