Have you ever felt powerless when dealing with an issue with a financial institution or other large corporate entity? I sure have, finding myself stuck in the loop of “it’s not my job” or getting conflicting information from numerous sources that makes me want to avoid the conversation completely.
Recently I found myself in a situation that went on for months. At the beginning of the year, we changed our business name, I knew it would entail a lot of paperwork and I was ready for that; what I did not expect was issues with Bank of the West. Without bogging you down in the details, the timing of the IRS making the business name change to our EIN, Employer Identification Number, and the bank’s needs did not coincide.
I have always believed that when a change is in process and open clear concise communication is happening, all is well, that turned out to be incorrect in this case. I responded in person at the bank to each inquiry, with all the back-up documentation necessary to show due diligence, I was focused on the same goal as the bank. I researched the IRS requirements (providing copies to the bank), spoke with my accountant, and filed the appropriate paperwork, which was in my control. What was not in my control was the amount of time it took for the IRS to make the final changes.
In spite of all of this we received a letter stating that the account would be closed in 10 days, I went back in to see what we could salvage. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing the bank for having certain requirements, I thought we were in a process together, moving toward the solution; silly me… After the bank reviewed everything once again, the paperwork was sent to legal. I was told “don’t worry or do anything until we hear back.” That was when the climate in the bank changed. Where I was once greeted by smiles and called by name, I now received fleeting glances and the appearance of being very busy with something that they could not look up from. A week or so passed and then I received a call that the bank had information for me and to call at my convenience. When I went in and spoke to the bank manager she was barely civil to me; a fake smile would have been a step up. Bottom line, “We are closing your account.” I did negotiate a short time period to re-group. In the process I found out what they wanted from the IRS was now completed.
Now here is the point of writing about this at all. I watched myself being deeply impacted by this situation:
I would wake up thinking about it (there was an impact on my business after all); I kept looking to see if I had missed anything.
I felt powerless to be heard or supported with the bank. (The one person that I had dealt with from the beginning left the branch, now no one knew the complete picture)
I began dreading going into the bank and started using the ATM. I do not enjoy using the ATM…I was getting smaller.
I wanted to defend myself as if this was a personal attack.
I was losing my personal power and experiencing stress.
I decided to vote with my feet and changed banks; it felt really good and yet not enough. Aimée had a running documentation of what went on and sent a letter to the new President of Bank of the West. Aimée was the head of service quality for Charles Schwab and Citibank for many years, and she knows service inside and out. After two attempts to meet with the manager in person failed, I wrote a letter and closed my account.
I have no expectations of what may come from these two communications, only that I spoke up and said, “No, I will not be treated this way and continue to bank with you.” It was a necessary process for me to reclaim my power.
Where are you playing small or giving your power away? Sometimes this can be very subtle. I did not recognize using the ATM as avoidance immediately… It may be in your job, relationship, your communications and choices. Many years ago I was unable to express which restaurant I would like to go to, for fear of making a wrong choice; not the case anymore!
I invite you to identify one area that you are willing to take your power back in and begin taking steps in that new direction. I guarantee you it will be worth any angst that you hit up against. Freedom is just a few baby steps away. Leave a comment on the BLOG to let me know how you are progressing.
Love and blessings,