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My 2 Sense

BMO Lacks Goodwill Toward Its Customers

The Price of Loyalty - November 5, 2009

Without Prejudice
BMO Loan rejection This is a sad example of how little customers mean to banks in general and BMO in particular.

I recently sold my house and bought a condo, with the closing date on the condo two weeks before the closing date on the house; a financial conundrum to be solved by bridge financing.

Fortunately due to another real estate investment, I had a line of credit that covered the bulk of the cost of the condo. On the closing date of my house, the line of credit would be retired.

However I was still $40,000 short and needed that for two weeks, so naturally I went to see my friendly banker at BMO. Now I've been banking in the same branch for 32 years, and have put over $8 million through it in that time via my companies and personally. The current manager has known me for about 3 years and is a very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable man who thought I would have no trouble getting this small bridge loan from BMO.

I gave him all the requisite documents, tax statements, sale agreements and asset/liability statements he required to make the application. And guess what? I got turned down. The loan was refused by some pencil necked BMO geek bean counter in Calgary .
(He shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.) Besides I prefer to think of him in derogatory terms.

My bank manager was aghast. He told me I have the best credit rating he's ever seen. I have $53,000 in available credit on credit cards alone. I'm using a paltry 12% of the credit available to me. He further stated that although I'm not a rich guy, I have spotlessly clean financial records. I have assets all over the place. Hell, the down payment made by the buyer of my house exceeds the loan I sought and my lawyer would simply pay off BMO when he paid off my BIG line of credit. I'd be the last one to get my hands on the cash.

But no, the idiot in Calgary felt that my lawyer might choose to pay me and not them. Further he said that the bank would have to control the whole deal. Pardon me? The deal is a whole lot bigger than 40k and THAT lender has the collateral on my house. Get a grip son.

So with profuse apologies from my embarrassed banker, I went online and what did I find on the BMO website? An invitation to call the big guy!

Verbatim from the BMO website:

  • We Can Help - Resolving Customer Complaints
  • Where to turn when a problem occurs
  • Talk to Us
  • Escalate to a Senior Officer
President and Chief Executive Officer
Personal and Commercial Banking
BMO Financial Group
P.O. Box 1, First Canadian Place
Toronto, ON M5X 1A1
Call: 1 800 372-5111 Fax: 416 927-6658

So in true Michael Moore form, I called the Big Kahuna and guessed it, voicemail which swore blind I'd get a return call in 48 hours. (Note: There is no NAME of the President and CEO. Is this Bill Downe or one of his colonels?

But I did get a call back....only it wasn't the Big Kahuna, it was, Nicole Nordin, Client Relations Manager − Second Level. Is there a first or third level between her and the Big Kahuna or does she merely sit on his right hand side? You KNOW you're never going to reach him because guys at the top insulate themselves from the rabble. They have no desire to talk to their actual customers.

At any rate, I ripped up one side of her and down the other. Not in a personal way, of course because she's a person, but about the bank. She said she couldn't speak to my issue without seeing the particulars, and that's fair enough, but I tried to impress on her that if all that I had said was true, then the bank indeed had let down a long time great customer.

I then dashed over to my bank to give my banker a heads-up that head office might call him, but Nicole was right on the ball. He'd already talked to her when I arrived and he went to bat for me and the loan to no avail. Mind you I told both of them that I'd just made a call and got the 40k from a friend with no write-up fee or interest due. And that since dear old dad taught me that for every action there is a consequence, I would be closing all my accounts at BMO and going elsewhere.

This upset him, because I had discussed investing the considerable balance of funds I would have when the dust settled on December 1 st in a BMO retirement fund. Ah well.

The bottom line is this:

•  Good credit means nothing to BMO (although bad credit sure does)
•  Long time customer loyalty means nothing to BMO.
•  Honest, financially sound customers mean nothing to BMO.
•  Branch managers who actually KNOW the HUMAN BEINGS who are their customers are not allowed to okay loans. Their judgment of a good customer means nothing to the clowns in Calgary who okay the loans.
•  Why would the bank respect their customers when they don't respect their own employees?

Now times are tough, and banks have taken a bath the last two years. Although Canadian banks didn't offer dubious financial products like, 'market-linked deposits,' 'precipice bonds,' 'derivatives,' 'credit default swaps' and 'sub-prime mortgages'like the American banks, what they DID do was buy them second hand from CitiBank, AIG, and all the other Wall Street institutions.

Hell, BMO lost $680 million playing the commodities market and Moody's credit agency said recently they may downgrade BMO's own credit rating due to concerns about their U.S. operations (Harris Bank), trading business and loan losses.

Oh, did I mention that about ten years ago the then manager of this branch embezzled $5 million from the bank. Employees were told not to say boo about it...which is hilarious because every hairdresser in the neighbourhood knew about it.

And who will be paying for these losses? Why you and I will, on every little transaction we make and every not so little service charge on our accounts.

But when we need the bank to help us out....forget it.

Ms. Nordin's email signature says and I quote; " Our vision is to be the bank that defines great customer experience."

Well Ms. Nordin, if that is your vision then perhaps you and Mr. Downe need glasses.

And have you noticed all the BMO ads on TV about how great they are? Seems they're trying hard to convince themselves because they know none of us believe them.

So Mr. Downe, a word of advice; instead of emasculating your bank managers, grow a pair yourself and then you'll have the balls to return your own phone calls.

Am I pissed off? You bet. This violates every value my father instilled in me; pay your bills, be honest, be fair and walk in integrity and it will all pay off.

Oh...and I never did get an apology from Ms. Nordin, her mystery boss or BMO.

Just my opinion,

Courtney Smith

NOTE TO READER: If you have a complaint about something and write the bank, be sure to only use the real names of the bad guys. If you use the names of those good guys who clear up the mess and help you, the bank will go after them. The bank ALWAYS blames and shoots the messenger. It's how they avoid feeling bad for being fuckups.

IF you have the same problem with this as I do, feel free to email: and we'll add your comments on this page. Feel free to write, email or phone BMO as well.

November 10, 2009

My experience with BMO is somewhat parallel.  As long as things are going well, they are great.  If something goes a little sideways, they treat you like a leper.  They make no effort whatsoever to help when things get tight and crank up their charges and rates as well.

From Don Goodison, CFP, FCGA

November 18, 2009

Thanks for the great blog. We got a BMO mortgage on a property and two days before the close, they reneged, leaving us high and dry. Fortunately, we were able to get the mortgage from CIBC in 48 hours so the deal could go through.

Please don't use our names as we still have some business with BMO and don't need any more grief.

From Name withheld by request

Bill Downe

BMO Posts Profits

CEO, Bill Downe Spins It
November 25, 2009

Financial Post reported fourth quarter earnings of $647 million for BMO, up 16% from last year helped by rising savings levels from Canadians worried about the economy.

BMO CEO, Bill Downe wasted no time in taking credit for the increase by attributing the results to the bank's push to improve branch service and better understand the needs of its customers. Guess he knows better than Financial Post.

"Individuals and businesses needed to know that their banker would be there for them," Downe said.

Ah huh.....and who believes THAT? Oh right...its year-end coming up and bonus time. Bill needs to make nice for the shareholders so he can ensure himself a nice Christmas present.

What I don't understand is why Bill didn't get his ass canned after gambling and losing $680 million trading commodities in 2007.

A little due diligence on his part of the principals in the derivatives trader Optionalbe Inc. might have saved BMO the big bucks.

Not to worry, our ATM fees will cover it.

Condo Update

Decenber 1, 2009

My condo purchase closed and my house sale closed successfully.

The primary mortgage holder was repaid in total - $652,000 and bridge loan was repaid in total, $43,000.

I guess BMO should have trusted my lawyer and myself and "been there for me."

NOTE: See Bill's statement above

There's an old saying, "Those who don't trust others are usually untrustworthy themselves."

If the shoe fits...

Click to read about the BMO employee turnover Click to for Customer Service at BMO Investorline