Oh, why bother with this? You all have your own tales of pain and woe, if not with banks, then with health insurance companies, mortgage holders or whomever. Here’s what amuses me most about them — how, in our allegedly perfect market-based system, our customer experience should be improving year to year. In some ways, it has, although I credit technology (the ATM) more than management. But mostly, banking — and many other allegedly service-based businesses — has only become more Soviet with time, more monolithic, less sensitive to customer complaint, more frustrating to deal with. Yes, I enjoy checking my balance online or over the phone. No, I don’t like being nickel-and-dimed — or ten-dollared and thirty-dollared — to death over every little thing.I still hope to get past the muttering stage on this important topic someday, but Nance has it good and broken down already.
I will add this: Any of us, if we think about it for more than a few minutes, can see that our largest and most powerful institutions are increasing treating us, their customers, like sub-humans.
They do it in Washington, with monstrosities like the nightmarish 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, and they do it in the day-to-day, by socking us with every hidden fee, added surcharge, delayed payment, automatic renewal, and designed-to-discourage phone tree they can dream up to separate us from more of our money.
I don't suggest there was ever a golden age when businesses didn't try to get more of our money, but I've been walking around this civilization for quite a healthy span of years, and I've never spent as much time as I do now fighting with corporations to keep or get back my money. I don't recall, in the allegedly less enlightened past, a bank insisting that I still had a credit card with them years after I paid off the balance and told them repeatedly to close my account. I don't recall being told that it didn't matter when I sent in my payment, it only mattered when the bank decided to accept it, and if it wound up being late they could raise my rate and fuck up my credit. (BTW thank the Democrats for fixing at least some of this shit.)
It's true that in the old days, I didn't have internet, and I often had to physically approach a service desk to get satisfaction. But those desks were clearly marked and manned. If they were run like the byzantine "support" features at many company websites now, they would be available only by rope ladder at the bottom a 30-foot shaft, and their agents would fend me off with pikestaffs.
Yet as plain as this is to us normal people, conservatives and libertarians (but I repeat myself) are insensible to the situation. They generally tell you, hey look, you got iPods and diet pet food, you never had it so good. And if you're suffering, it's your own damn fault for being a littlebrain. If you go through, say, a typical Megan McArdle post about bank shenanigans, you'll find the comments filled with the counsel of Randian supermen who have never had any troubles getting loans themselves, and don't understand how any decent person would ("When it comes down to it, if a person lives responsibly, chances are they won't have to worry").
And there's always someone like Cassy Fiano to blubber that the banks are the ones getting screwed by their customers and how dare they etc.
Which brings us to the depraved indifference shown by those BP ratfucks toward actually cleaning up (as opposed to covering up) their disastrous pollution of the Gulf of Mexico. For a while I was actually in sympathy with them -- when you fuck up that bad, you might be forgiven for using a psychological strategy to distance yourself from the enormity of your guilt, if only just so you can function. But after watching them at work awhile, I have decided that they are incorrigible. To put it politely.
And why shouldn't they be? See it their way: In this country, in this time, if you want the big money you don't give the suckers an even break. You brass it out. Fuck the regulators, fuck the press, and fuck the paupers who think they have some say in what washes up on their beaches -- we got people, we got money. And most of all, we got the right of way. Because for decades now, wherever some herkimer-jerkimer objected that our business was coming on a little too strong for their precious "community," we had the answer that never failed: Step aside, buddy, you're standing in the way of the Free Market.
It never failed before. Why should it fail them now?