It should go without saying that just because something is “a policy”, doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing do. History is rife with examples of this being the case. Look at any civil rights movement. Separate parts of the restaurant, different water fountains, the whole bus seat thing, all operating under the “It’s our policy” umbrella. “It’s our policy” should never be used as a stand-alone argument. It’s feeble. Usually the people who use this as a their argument don’t agree with it. That’s why they just say, “It’s our policy.” It’s the business equivalent of “Because I said so.” which I also have a problem with.
I was at a bank, Chase Bank to be specific. My credit union was across town and there’s a Chase Bank branch in the grocery store that I was shopping in, so I thought “Hell, it’s a Chase Bank check, I’ll just cash it here.” I approach the clerk, a smarmy slicked-back hair type, in a suit that was too small for him.
“Well sir, do you have an account with us?”
“No.” I said.
“Well, we’re going to have to charge you 10 dollars to cash this check, sir.”
“Yeah, that’s our policy. We have to charge you if you don’t have an account with us.”
“Yes sir. That’s our policy.”
To which I replied, “Give me my fucking check.” His eyes got big with disbelief and handed it over. I must have some damn nerve.
I walked out of their glorified kiosk, I mean it’s a half step above a sunglass hut, let’s call it what it is. I decided to get my groceries and just go to my credit union. Screw these bastards. I was reaching for the nutty bars and when I realized that I was not going to be able to just let this go. So I went back. Smarmy bank clerk was there and I asked to speak to the manager. I was polite, well polite for me anyway, and the manager had been halfway expecting me to come back. I dropped an f-bomb, of course he heard about it.
“So Richard here, tells me that you have a bit of an issue with our policy.”
He stayed seated. Even when he shook my hand, he never got up.
“That’s correct. I’m having a bit of a hard time understanding where you get to skim 10 dollars off this check which was issued from this bank.”
His nametag said Tom. “Well that’s the cost of labor for the transaction.”
“So you’re telling me that I hand Richard here, this check. Then Richard here, takes the check, puts the check in the drawer, counts the amount written on the check and then hands it to me, costs ten dollars. Is that correct?”
“You know that’s not what I’m saying.” He leaned back.
“That’s exactly what you’re saying.”
“Mr. Padgett, you’re not a member of this bank, and this is our policy.”
“Tom, this is a scumbag policy. This customer, a member of your bank, has direct deposit into his account, which means you have access to his funds before he does. You make money off this situation from the word go. That said, when he inevitably does decide to spend some of his money, you penalize anyone he does business with, by charging them through this scumbag policy.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr. Padgett.”
“There’s no need for you to say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” because it isn’t an apology. It’s a way for you to seem like you’re sorry. Being sorry about someone’s feelings is ridiculous.”
“Mr. Padgett, other banks can charge you up to 12 or 13 dollars. This is actually quite reasonable.”
“So you’re using the everybody else does it so it’s okay excuse? That is not a valid argument. It’s just convenient.” I wasn’t getting heated and yes, this is where I get off. It’s true…kind of my thing. “Tom, How about we look at this as an opportunity. You have the opportunity to do the right thing here and not penalize your customer through this transaction fee.”
I could tell Tom was a family man, wedding ring, pictures of his kids on his desk, the whole thing. It was apparent the he was accustomed to saying no to his children and not having to explain himself.
“Again, this is Chase Bank’s policy.”
“Alright, I see your decision. This is a scumbag policy, and you know is a scumbag policy. Through this interaction, you have shown that you will discriminate against a prospective customer or possibly a future member of your bank through unnecessary fees. This will absolutely deter me from doing business with you in the future. I’m sure you acknowledge these facts. You know this is a scumbag policy, and by defending it, it in-turn makes you a…” At this point, I reached out my hand, palm up as if to say “This is your cue, honey.”…
Tom instinctively, as if it were a knee jerk reaction, said…“Scumbag.”
Yes. I got a grown man to call himself a scumbag and with that, I drove to my credit union.