10 pounds down 32 pounds to go!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On being the bank's bitch

I read a lot of websites about money, and debt and just general finance. I spend more time researching personal finance now than when I was my most indebted, ironic. Anyway, I guess I wandered into the right job because finance really does fascinate me. Reading about banks, what people think of banks and what their experiences are is fascinating. Fascinating and frustrating and sometimes downright infuriating.

I might have a chip on my shoulder about this because I work in a bank and I hear a lot about fees and how unfair the bank is and all that jazz. Last week my boss wandered into an article titled: "Banks to customers: Drop Dead". Now that's just silly. If our customers were dead who'd pay our salaries? The first line is my favorite though: Who's coming to the rescue? The rescue? Sure, it sucks that you signed a variable rate mortgage for a house you couldn't afford but it's not the bank's fault. The bank didn't make you buy a house you couldn't afford, you made that choice for yourself.

Banking is one of America's most regulated industries but what does that mean to a customer? It means that the bank has to give you fine print details on any potential way they can screw you. If I don't hand out the right papers when I open an account for someone it means the bank is in violation of the law and then I get fired. I can agree with people who complain about service and ineptitude at their bank, mediocrity is everywhere but you're the customer. There is no shortage of banks and no reason not to shop around, you don't have to do business anywhere that doesn't meet your standards and needs. I'm worn out over hearing people complain about things they can control and choose not to, atleast financially.

Why am I on this today all of a sudden, because I read this amazing article, blurb, whatever about the housing "crisis" this morning. Can you call whiplash consumerism a crisis? Losing your house to a fire is a crisis. A flood is a crisis, a never ending war with an increasing death toll...that's a crisis. Wanting more than you have and leveraging your future to get it is dangerous and foolish, but it's not a crisis.

There are some other great money articles on that site, one about going homeless to pay off debt. That may be extreme for most, but it worked and I admire the dedication. I've gotten to the point where when I hear that someone is in debt over their heads but they still have the Tivo and the internet and a shiny new car and eat out all week...I just have no sympathy anymore. If that's the life you want and you're willing to pay for it from beyond the grave, go for it. Just don't blame the bank, it's not the banks fault, no more than it's McDonald's fault that people who eat there three meals a day get fat. Forget flouride, they should put personal responsibility in the water.


Jenniy said...

I feel badly for people who have mortgages that they can no longer afford, but it still makes me mad when people either blame the bank or get mad at the bank for giving them that mortgage.

Who cares if the bank approved you for that loan? You are the one responsible for it, so you should have looked at it a million times to make absolutely sure you could afford your mortgage when the rates went up.

Like you said, the bank didn't force anyone to buy the house with those mortgage terms.

Sure, a bank is trying to make money, but the customer needs to be responsible enough to walk away from a mortgage offer they can't handle, no matter how badly they want the house or how the bank works the loan to make it affordable (at least temporarily!).

Amy said...

If you can't afford a fixed mortgage you can't afford the house. It's a sad fact that some people are never going to have the american dream.

Lauren said...

YES, fists pumping, you said it!. So why do I feel responsible for them?

Sugarcrook said...

I see it a bit differently. People wanted houses they couldn't afford, so banks and mortgage houses offered ARMs as a way for people to defer debt. When the ARMs expired, payments ballooned and people defaulted on loans.

You can assign blame to both sides. To debtors for not managing debt and to creditors for issuing bad loans and usury.

That said, I'm actually pretty happy with my bank. I don't have to pay for counter checks anymore.

Amy said...

There are definitely banks that take advantage of people, but all of that is public knowledge. You can find out how many foreclosures a bank goes through if you do the research. People trust banks and they really shouldn't, not completely. Anything that is run by people can be fallible.