Hello Dear Readers,
One of the best things about getting out of debt was finally getting to tell CIBC (otherwise known as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) what I thought of their customer service. I moved my account to a credit union, and I don’t plan to ever look back.
They don’t make it easy to close a bank account, especially if you have several different types of investments, and income that is automatically deposited (not to mention bills that are automatically withdrawn), but in my opinion, taking this stand was so worth the extra effort. Maybe if more people took their business elsewhere, the big banks would finally sit up and take notice of the little people.
Here is the letter I wrote to CIBC. Maybe you can relate to some of the things I’ve gone through:
July 14, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
I opened my first CIBC account when I was fifteen years old, with the first pay cheque from my very first job. When I moved to a new city as a young adult, it never occurred to me to bank anywhere else: CIBC was my bank. For a middle class girl in her early twenties, I was doing very well. I had over 20K invested in one of your aggressive portfolios, and plenty of money in the bank. I did even better as a successful freelance journalist, and all of my financial business was conducted through CIBC. When I bought my first home, I went to CIBC for the mortgage.
Unfortunately, in my thirties, the tide shifted against me. Through terrible circumstances, which included illness, death, a separation, and a mix-up with my mortgage, I found myself in debt for the first time in my life. This did not sit well with me, and I was determined to get back in the black as quickly as possible.
I decided to use my CIBC Line of Credit to pay off the debt as fast as I could. To do this, I requested one small change to the account: I wanted it changed from a mandatory three percent payment each month to an interest-only account. I knew that I would pay off more than the interest each month—I requested the change only to give me some peace of mind. If something happened to my house one month, for instance, I’d be able to make a smaller payment at that time and increase the following payments.
CIBC refused to make this small change for me. Why? I was a great, long-time customer. I had a high credit rating. I never missed a payment on the line of credit in all the years I’d had it, and never used my overdraft. But, on a recommendation from a friend, I had looked into the possibility of a consolidation loan from two credit unions. Their resulting credit checks temporarily lowered my credit score by two points. My CIBC personal banking assistant knew this, but she still refused to make the change to my line of credit. She kept telling me that she’d be able to help me once my credit rating regained the measly two points, but that time never came. I kept getting put off, and put off, and put off. All I received were empty promises.
Now here we are, just over a year and a half later, and I have completely paid off my debt. Over $30K paid off in a year and a half, and I did it by myself, with absolutely no assistance from my bank. I think you can understand why I’m taking my business elsewhere.
I’m not a millionaire. In fact, I’m practically starting from scratch again. But that will change. And perhaps one day you’ll regret losing my business. You’ll probably regret that I’m a journalist and blogger who’s not shy when it comes to talking about the lack of service I received from CIBC. Maybe someday there will be other Holli Moncrieffs who will decide they want to be treated like people instead of numbers. Maybe they will be legion. And maybe then you’ll decide it’s time to start paying attention.
Have you ever had a proud, happy moment like this where you felt vindicated? Feel free to share! And if you’re currently struggling to get out of debt, just stay patient and know that it will happen. There were times when that light at the tunnel seemed very far away, but I’m so happy that I stuck with it.