A few years ago, I succumbed to a phenomenal sales pitch by a BankOne banker and agreed to open a traditional IRA at the bank. I blame it on exhaustion - I had very young children at the time. Sleep was hard to come by in those days and I was, at times, out of my mind with fatigue.
And so, exhausted and inexplicably charmed by the salesman at the bank, I plunked down a small amount of money and opened a retirement account.
Moments later (it seemed, in my sleep-deprived state), BankOne was acquired by Chase. And all my accounts became Chase accounts.
Over the years, this Chase IRA earned little money. Very, very, very little money. After the initial deposit, I never again deposited money into it, preferring to invest in other, better retirement plans.
Recently, we moved to a town not blanketed in Chase bank branches - the nearest one is more than 100 miles away from us, forcing me to take a harder look at all our accounts and stuff like that.
And when I looked at this Chase IRA, I realized that it earns 0.01 percent.
One-one hundredth of a percent.
Really, Chase? That's the best you can do? After all we've done for you and your cohorts at other TBTF banks?!
This week, I tried to close that account and transfer the funds to a different (non-Chase) IRA. It was an ulcer-inducing, highly irritating, very unfriendly experience. One that involved snail mail - and only snail mail (no tying into the electronic transfer system at Chase!), paperwork, a search for the snail mail address to send the paperwork back to Chase (found only on the envelope the paperwork came in, not on the paperwork itself), surly customer service reps, a drive to the notary public and more snail mail with the promise that someday, they'll snail mail me a check.
A nightmare just to close a piddly retirement account.
I am very much looking forward to the day I close this IRA. Am at the point where I will pop a bottle of Champagne when I'm done with this bank.
One should not be so happy to be done with the big banks, but there you have it, TBTF banking in America is NOT an experience designed with the customer in mind....