Dyslexics have more nuf

Image of Bank of Montreal, Northbrook, Ontario Situated in the County of Lennox & Addington, the sleepy village of Northbrook offers modest commercial services to consumers in this mixed residential and seasonal setting. One is never without choice in Northbrook as there are always two distinct alternatives at one's disposal: take it or leave it. You can buy your groceries at Foodland... or not. You can buy your gas at Petro-Canada... or not. You can fill a prescription at the dispensary in the Medical Centre... or not. You can buy lumber at Castle Building Supply... or not. And you can open an account at the Bank of Montreal... or, in this case, probably not.

I have, since 1982, spent the majority of my summer leisure time at a seasonal property in the Frontenacs. Experience has taught me to carry sufficient coin of the realm to make the occasional cash purchase as a debit card is useless at a number of the smaller, local businesses. Don't be too surprised when you discover that the Interac symbol is the exception and not the rule. There is, however, a single ATM located on the village's main drag in the Bank of Montreal. Unfortunately, unless you're actually a Bank of Montreal client, you're dinged $1.50 service charge by the Bank of Montreal and an additional $1.50 service charge by the financial institution whose logo appears on your debit card every time you withdraw funds. I can only speak to my own fiscal pragmatism, but paying banks exorbitant service charges leaves an incredibly bad taste in my mouth particularly in light of the fact that Canada's financial institutions rake in billions each year. Given their $22.4B annual profit, I figure I'm more deserving of the three bucks.

The solution, at least to my way of thinking, seemed obvious and simple. If I opened an account at the Bank of Montreal which was linked to an associated debit card, I would realize an immediate $3 saving every time I withdrew funds from the Northbrook ATM. I would, of course, have to deposit funds into the account but the inconvenience, in my view, would be far less egregious than doling over three bucks every single time I wanted to get some cash from the bank machine.

The story about to be revealed is somewhat dated, having taken place back in aught seven, but it categorically epitomizes what any reasonable person would deem to be poor customer service and it's as profoundly idiotic now as it was back then. Trust me when I say: "I just couldn't make shit like this up..."

* * * * *

It was a beautiful sunny summer Monday morning. The birds were chirping, the morning dew still hung heavy on the grass and I had just finished drinking my morning cup of coffee. "What a great day to head to Northbrook" I thought, "have a nice breakfast at the local restaurant, pick up some groceries and open up a new bank account at the Bank of Montreal so I could put an end to those offensive service charges I'd been subjected to". An hour and a half later, with breakfast in my stomach and groceries in the trunk of the car, all that remained was a quick stop at the bank and my plan would have been complete. How such a simple plan would be thwarted by sheer idiocy still seems somewhat surreal to me.

"Can I help you?" the teller seated behind the counter asked. It seemed as though she was the only person working in the bank that day. She was the sole teller at the wickets and the same woman who had unlocked the bank's front door a few moments earlier to allow three customers, of which I was one, into the bank who had been waiting outside for it to open that morning. Having dispensed with the other two customers, I was the only client remaining to be served.

"I'd like to open a new bank account," I said, reaching in my back pocket to withdraw my wallet which contained the indentification I would almost certainly require to fulfill the request.

"I'm sorry sir," she promptly informed me, "but we only open new accounts on Tuesdays."

"You only open new bank accounts on Tuesdays?" I asked in astonishment. Had casual observers been present to actually witness the occasion, they surely would have detected the sense of incredulity in my voice as I sought to confirm the words she had just uttered. It seemed quite odd to me, and frankly it still does, that with today's technology any bank in the country would only be capable of opening new accounts on a single, specific day of the week.

"Oh yes," she confirmed, reassuring me that all the weed I'd smoked back in the '70's in my University days hadn't completed obliterated my functional brain cells. "The gal that opens up new accounts only comes in on Tuesday". She offered no further information or explanation, I suppose believing the one she had just provided was both sufficient and rational, so I thanked her and bid her good day.

On Tuesday morning I experienced a strange deja vu. The birds were chirping, a morning dew clung heavy on the grass and after I finished my morning coffee, I decided to head into Northbrook to have breakfast and open up a bank account. "We'll give this another whirl!" I thought to myself, steadfast in my determination to reduce bank fees. I was the only customer standing outside the branch when it opened Tuesday morning and the same lady, who had served me the previous day, greeted me as she unlocked the door. She took up her position behind the teller's wicket as I wound my way through the service labyrinth to the wicket.

"I'd like to open an account," I said, my right hand once again reaching for the wallet in my rear pocket to obtain the necessary documentation she'd undoubtedly require to fulfill the request.

"Did you make an appointment? she asked.

"Um, well, no," I acknowledged with a slight stammer in my voice, I hadn't made an appointment. "I wasn't aware I needed one," I continued, "I was here yesterday morning and you told me that you only opened new accounts on Tuesday."

"Yes, that's right," she confirmed, "on Tuesday. The gal who opens up new accounts only works on Tuesday." She paused, ever so briefly, and then the other shoe dropped. "But if she has no appointments she doesn't come in." It was one of the few times in my life that I've been so dumbfounded so as to be rendered speechless. I wasn't even able to muster a "You've got to be fucking kidding me". I turned, instead, without uttering a word and walked out of the branch in complete and utter disgust. The thought of making a third attempt to open an account and setting up an appointment for the following Tuesday never even crossed my mind. "Well, yes, sir, you did make an appointment and it is Tuesday... but it's an odd numbered day, the moon's in its first quarter and Mercury is in retrograde despite the alignment of Sagitarius."

* * * * *

One final comment on the Bank of Montreal. I'd like to meet the dyslexic putz who gets BMO out of Bank of Montreal. As near as I can figure out, they've opted for BMO (pronounced "bee moe") because they're under the misguided impression that it sounds cool... in a Jennifer Lopez Jay Loe kind of way. Ironically, when I hear the "bee moe" vocalization what comes to mind is "bowel movement".... not Bank of Montreal.

Submitted by Bob Loblaw, 21 April 2012