I own a small condo downtown which I bought as a rental investment. The mortgage is held by the Caisse Populaire Desjardins, the province’s largest credit union. Each year around this time I have to put together the bank statements for the accountant. In each of the last two years I have faced the same problem with two radically different outcomes, due exclusively to differences in attitude between the employees with whom I interacted.

Employee #1

Last year, as I was preparing the paperwork, I noticed that I had not received any bank statements for the last six months. I called the credit union and asked the receptionist (a young lady) to tell me why. She explained that I was no longer eligible for mailed statements because I had signed up for these to be available on-line. I explained to her that I had done no such thing. She went on to explain that the moment I signed up for on-line access to my accounts, this automatically made me ineligible for the mailed statements. She went on to say that I would have had to go through the web site and locate a page in which I could request continued mail service. She confirmed that there was no warning of this….a banking dead-man switch as it were.

She offered to fax me the missing statements but at a charge of $15. I protested that this wasn’t my fault, but rather a design defect in how the bank configures its on-line service without warning the client of the implications. Despite my protestations she held firm, and with an arrogant tone said, “No sir…I will not do it without charge”. She did offer to change the setting so that I would receive the statements by mail in the future. I was in a rush to get the papers to the accountant and it was “only” $15, so I let it go.

Employee #2

This year, as I prepared the paperwork, I realized once again that no bank statements had been received for the whole year. The $15 young lady had forgotten to make the change, I figured. I called the credit union once again, anticipating a big fight. This time I wasn’t about to let it go. The young man who answered the phone listened patiently to my tale. He immediately volunteered to fax all the missing statements immediately and at no charge, and also looked into why I still wasn’t getting the statements by mail. It turned out, he told me, that the previous person had requested “Update by bank book” instead of by mail (was it passive aggressive, like when the airlines send your luggage to Australia if you complain about anything?). I don’t even have a f*^#ng bank book on that account!

He apologized profusely, and immediately took ownership of fixing the statement issue once and for all. “You will have no more problems”, he assured me.

Two people, same place, same position, same training, but with a different view of their work and the importance of the customer. One will sink you, while the other can make you. It’s all in the attitude.