C.R.M. (Customer Relationship Misery)
Peggy and I erred in trusting the information from Rick Steve's website to help us find the American Express office in Moscow. We lost an entire afternoon and suffered serious agita.
TD (Toronto Dominion)—Bankers from Hell
Around the turn of the last century, we had plenty of cash in our personal, savings and business accounts at First Union Bank three blocks from our house in Center City Philadelphia. But then out of the blue came a postcard from the good ole boys at the Charlotte HQ dunning me for 5¢ (sic).
My immediate reaction: Something was seriously wrong with First Union’s money management systems. I didn’t want my cash with bankers so stupid that they would spend 50¢ on a postcard to collect 5¢.
So we moved our account to a brand new, heavily advertised Commerce Bank branch one block closer. It was offering terrific goodies: open nights and weekends, free checking, free safe deposit box, no fees at any ATM machine anywhere in the country and a splendid automatic coin-counting machine.
In 2004, two Commerce Bank executives were indicted for corruption and three years later founder and CEO Vernon Hill was ousted. In 2007, the red and blue of Commerce was replaced by the deep green of TD Bank. I was vaguely familiar with the company because of the continual appearances on my television screen by oh-so-trustworthy actor Sam Waterston touting the virtues TD Ameritrade.
Peggy is a U.S. representative to the World Curling Federation. Early every December, a WCF meeting is held at the venue of the European curling championships. Peggy gets expenses, and when the meetings are held in interesting venues, I tag along—paying my own way. This past December, the event was held in Moscow.
Before going overseas, Peggy and I always call our credit card companies—MasterCard, Visa and American Express (where I’ve been a Cardmember since 1964)—to alert them of our travel schedule, so that all charges will be honored.
Before any overseas trip, each of us goes to our local TD Bank branch, shows our ATM card to one of the officers at a desk in the lobby to make sure that we will be able to use the ATM machines in the countries we will be visiting. This time we went in separately—one day apart—and sat down with two different officials. After some data entry on their computers (and perhaps a phone call), both of us were guaranteed that all was in order and we could get rubles out of ATMs in Moscow.