Thursday, October 07, 2010

Open Letter to Bank of America

Dear Bank of America,

For the last four years, I have been your loyal customer and graciously lent you my capital. However, after yesterday's events, I'm strongly considering finding another bank, because I am incredibly disappointed with how you have treated me as a customer.

Issue: I am outside the United States, and needed to wire money to a foreign bank account.

This is a quite common banking transaction, and one that could reasonably be expected to be supported by the namesake bank of the United States. But alas, if only things were so easy.

First problem: Upon attempting to initiate the wire transfer, I was told I needed to sign up for SafePass. I'm all for two-factor authentication, and clicked to sign up, only to discover that Bank of America believes that only Americans own cellphones, and only a 10-digit American cellphone could be used as a SafePass device.

No problem, I thought, I can use my Google Voice number, which I've set up to email me upon receipt of an SMS. But that number wouldn't "take" - I consistently got an error when trying to send the initial authorization code.

So I got my brother online, and told him I was signing up his cellphone. Same problem.

I spoke to a customer support representative, who explained that since I was outside the United States, I couldn't sign up for SafePass. So I asked to have a physical cryptocard overnighted to me, since that is the other SafePass option. I was told that cryptocards cannot be sent overseas. The rep explained that "apparently we've hit a roadblock", but I was offered no alternatives.

So I got clever. I changed my password, called up my brother in the States, gave him my login credentials, and had him try to sign up for SafePass for me. No dice. The system is just plain broken.

I got another rep on the line, and asked for SafePass to be removed. I was told that it couldn't, because despite the fact that it doesn't actually work, it is there for my security. I laughed a little on the inside at the thought that the inability to perform critical banking transactions is indeed one way to achieve solid security.

I finally succeeded in wiring my money by transferring it to my mom's account, and having her drive over to a physical branch and talk to a manager. This seems prophetic - the only way to do banking with Bank of America seems to be to move my money out of your bank.

Please consider that we're your customers, and we willingly give you money for your business. You are also the face of American banking. Incidentally, that face requires clicking "Calculate exchange rate" when you're trying to wire dollars to dollars (at least it calculates it as 1.0, after a 10 second delay).

I expect more. Please don't let me down.



  1. Man, if I can ever find a dollars-to-dollars exchange rate that's not equal to 1.0, I'm going to clean up.

  2. Just become a bank - they make a killing from exchange spreads.

  3. I am having a similar issue with Bank of America and living abroad. Like you, I am left wondering if there a better bank to suit my needs.

  4. I have the same exact problem. Any suggestions?

  5. I also have this problem. Now I really do not like Bank of America and will tell all my family to leave it.... I really need to send all my money to my family in order for them to send it to me? You got to be kidding me... what about my financial privacy?????