Letting The Blind Show Me The Way

The other day I'm in a local bank branch with the intent of presenting myself, in person, to express my ongoing frustration with the institution's online banking services. For nearly two years, I've been trying to get them to unify various accounts under a single login; in response, the bank has repeatedly requested my patience and told me pending upgrades would enable the services I needed.

And there was some progress: earlier this year, I convinced them to whittle me down to two different online identities—one each for different types of accounts. But last week, the bank suddenly claimed I need to use no fewer than five separate logins. Further, via all those online identities, I wouldn't have access to all my accounts, nor to existing services I have been using for some years.

Appearing in person did me no good. First my "personal" banker, then an assistant manager, then a branch manager politely informed me they'd be happy to help but the situation must surely be my fault for having such an unusual situation as to be self-employed. Perhaps the best thing would be to visit a branch any time to access my accounts?

I've run out of people at the branch to whom I can "escalate" my complaints, but as I'm being given the party line for the third time, I notice a woman feeling her way around the outside wall of the lobby. The branch's entire staff—and every bank patron—is completely ignoring her. Then I notice her red-tipped cane.

I hold up a finger to shut up the branch manager and step over. "Excuse me—are you looking for a door? Or maybe a teller?"

"I'm trying to find the door," she says. "The cab dropped me off at the wrong bank." She gives me the name of her bank; I tell her there's a branch about half a block down the street. "Oh…" she says, unaware the branch manager is standing maybe six feet away. "Do you think the staff here would be able to help me there? I'd hate to call a cab to go half a block."

"Tell you what," I say, glaring pointedly at the branch manager. "After speaking with the staff today, I've concluded I'm also at the wrong bank. May I walk you to yours?"

So we set off down the street—and that's the last time I plan to set foot in that bank. Enough's enough: it's one thing for a large financial institution to serve of a string of snafus to its customers, but its something else entirely for a branch's entire staff to ignore a blind woman obviously fumbling her way around the periphery of their lobby. By the end of the calendar year, every account I have with this institution will be closed.

And once I get accurate tax information out of them, I'll be happy to publish their name.

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