I usually deal with large, nation-wide banks as opposed to smaller local or regional credit unions and such. I like the fact that you can go into a branch anywhere and be treated like you’re a local customer. Here are a couple of my recent experiences doing so:
When I was in school I had student loans to pay for part of it. Now I have recently started paying back these loans. They are loans held by the Royal Bank of Canada and guaranteed by the Government of Canada or Government of British Columbia. I have had to make two payments so far on my B.C. loan at the Royal Bank. This most recent one I had spoken to a student loan representative on the phone and told her exactly where I would be making my payment. So, I went in and there was no lineup to get to a teller, excellent! I got to the teller and gave her my loan account number and said that I would like to make a payment and no, I didn’t have my client card with me. This led to a big problem, apparently here in Montreal they don’t know how do process a payment for a student loan held by the Western Canada Student Loan Service Center. Despite the fact that I had spoken to someone at that service center a few days before the branch staff had to call the center. To make a long story short I walked in with an account number and cash and it took them half an hour to take it. The time before wasn’t so bad – it only took about twenty minutes, but I am scared for this week when I have to go pay both my BC and Canada student loans there.
My second little anecdote deals with the Bank of Montreal, where I have been a customer for something like 12 years. I show ads on my website the Ballet. I use three ad networks: Google Adsense, Burst! Media, and Valueclick, (formerly Fastclick). Because I get paid in US dollars I have a US dollar bank account which has been open for something like 18 months or 2 years. So, I went in to deposit my cheque from BURST! – a whopping $51.44. Because this is a US dollar cheque I had to see a teller during teller hours, (10-3, except Thursday when it’s 10-6. These hours are not the same as the branch hours and are not posted anywhere incidentally). So, I gave the teller my card and the cheque and told her I’d like to deposit the cheque into the US dollar account, and she deposited it, and told me of course that there would be a hold on the cheque. Now, I know that it’s policy at the Bank of Montreal to hold all US dollar cheques, but I have been banking with them for 12 years, and receive cheques from BURST! on a regular basis. Also, this cheque was for $51.44. They trust me enough to let me deposit up to $1000 Canadian, and have instant access, with the rest being available after 24 hours, but for some reason $51.44 US is a stretch. When I asked if there was any way to not have the hold I was told that I’d have to go to my home branch – a 5 hour flight away. So now I have to wait 30 days before I can get my $51.44 US.
So, so much for national banks being able to handle transactions everywhere like local ones. I am going to take this into consideration when I actually settle down, or maybe I’ll just keep my savings in a jar.