Addicted to novelty since 2001

I Wanted to Like Vancity, But Now I Loathe Them

You know, Vancity does a lot of great things. ChangeEverything is cool, as is their new climate change mortgage, and they have a ton of admirable local initiatives.

It was because of that good reputation, both as a bank and a community member, that we switched our business accounts from the Royal Bank to Vancity last year. The Royal Bank had given us incompetent, impersonal service, so it was a pleasure to take our money elsewhere (they likewise continue to treat us poorly for our personal accounts).

You know what? Vancity is no better. They’re possibly even worse.

I already described the serious error they made last August, as well as their confusing mail piece (a trivial complaint, but reflective of their customer service).

Since then, Vancity has made two more mistakes on basic activities within our account. I’m not manufacturing imaginary missteps. I have emails from my account manager admitting they made errors in issuing incorrect cheques and cashing cheques from the wrong account.

I don’t care how frickin’ green or community-oriented this credit union is. I don’t pay banking fees for ineptitude.

I’m out of patience and goodwill. That’s three errors in six months, in our first year with a new bank. If we performed like this at Capulet, all of our clients would fire us.

If I wasn’t leaving the country in four weeks, I’d put the immediate boot to Vancity. Instead, I’ll leave that onerous task for our return.

On a related matter, why aren’t these community-minded people monitoring the Web? This is my third post dissing their organization, and nobody from Vancity has responded, publicly or privately.

UPDATE: Over on the nicely-designed Open Source Credit Union, Trey has written a post about my customer experience.

UPDATE #2: Another post about my Vancity angst over at Bankwatch.

55 Responses to “I Wanted to Like Vancity, But Now I Loathe Them”

  1. Andrea >> Become a Consultant Blog

    I’ve been having big problems with my Scotia McLeod brokerage accounts. After various other screw ups, they actually lost a major contribution to my spousal RRSP. Major. For a few weeks. And didn’t seem to care, no matter how many times I phoned in. When I threatened to pull all of my money from the entire Scotia family, they magically found the money. Apparently, it had never occurred to them that my husband and I would have different last names. Uh, yeah, you lost an electronic funds transfer to a specific bank account number because the last names were different.

    They didn’t even apologize for the sexism. Having worked in financial services software, I don’t even buy their story. But I now have near zero confidence in them.

    They didn’t expect spouses to have different last names. How many professionals — the kind of people most likely to have brokerage accounts — have the same names as their spouses? I really don’t buy it.

  2. Ian King

    I’ve been wanting to assuage my bleeding-heart side for a while and switch from TD Canada Trust to Vancity — but reading about your experiences has caused me to stay put for now. TD seemed to have adopted CT’s customer service attitude when the two merged some years back. An unexpectedly good result, but I like it. My dealings with TD have been largely painless, and the few snags I’ve had were resolved after one phone call and never resurfaced. Tough to switch from that.

  3. newhotrod

    “why aren’t these community-minded people monitoring the Web?”

    This question made me laugh out loud! Seriously, have we all become so lazy to expect companies to monitor our every blogging breath via the internet, or by cctv for that matter, to know what we’re thinking? What happened to the old way forcing your way into the manager’s office to make a big stinking scene live and in person?

    Especially if you are leaving the country for an extended period, you’re going to let a company you don’t trust keep their hands on your hard earned dollars for all that time?

    Weird.

  4. Derek K. Miller

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never had any such problems with Vancity in our long years of dealing with them, so I have to wonder if your problems are specific to your branch, and whether they might improve if you moved your money to another. I know the whole Vancity system is set up so that it shouldn’t matter—our main branch is on Hastings in Vancouver and we almost never, ever go there—but if you have particular incompetents at the one that’s running your stuff, it could be resolvable.

    Even if not, I can certainly see that you’d want to but out, and TD-Canada Trust does have a good reputation among friends I know who use them. More obliquely, the Coastal Community Credit Union on Commercial Drive lets you continue using all those Exchange machines, but treats you much more personally if you don’t mind a more hippy-dippy vibe. A friend of mine has used them for years and thinks they’re great:

    http://www.ccec.bc.ca/

  5. darren

    newhotrod: Don’t worry, I wrote a strongly-worded email and CC’d the branch manager, which is the modern equivalent of making a big stink. I prefer my stinks, uh, to be archived.

    It should be standard practice for companies in 2007 (heck, in 2005) to monitor the web for chatter about their brand, products and services. That’s just a good marketing practice.

  6. Gregg

    I’ve been dealing with Envision Financial Credit Union since I was 10 years old and moved myself over to it’s predecessor First Heritage because at that young age I was sick of the bank with which my parents dealt (BMO). They ended up following me over a couple of years later.

    I’ve got nothing but good things to say about them, they have even been great when disaster struck my family and I basically tanked my finances and credit rating in order to devote my time to taking care of my family. I have an excellent relationship with them, and while I conduct almost all my business online, it is in no way impersonal as the staff and management all quickly reply to any inquiries I have through email. My wife was impressed enough with them that we did not even have to discuss which of our two institutions would become our primary after we got married, she just informed me that we needed to close her accounts. I go in tomorrow, as a matter of fact, to sign the papers to change my mortgage over to a Red Frog mortgage, which will help me to pay it off in less than half the normal time.

    I realize that they are still only in the suburbs and do not yet have branches right in Vancouver, but I’m assuming that you will be doing everything online not only for the next six months, but also once you move to your property.

  7. Devlon

    Thanks, you saved me a bit of trouble. I’ve been looking at banks to open a business account and Vancity was high on my list to check out.

  8. Sara Holland, Vancity Public Affairs and Corporate Communications

    Blogging is a real challenge for us folks over here in Banking World. On the one hand it’s really helpful to hear directly from our customers about their service challenges (and about their positive experiences — thanks for the testimonial, Derek!). On the other hand we’re really limited in how much we can respond to any specific experience in a public space like a blog, because government regulations and our own policies impose very strict limits on what we can say about anybody’s financial relationship with Vancity.

    All for good reason, but it makes blogging about an issue like this one (which in some ways we’d love to do!) very tough. It’s the tension between the transparency and authenticity that lie at the heart of blogging, and the critical need to offer the level of privacy protection that members expect and deserve. Please bear with us; we’re still trying to figure out how to interact with our members in the blogging world. And that’s meant it’s taken us longer than it should have to figure out how to respond to comments like yours.

    That said… we do want you (and other BC bloggers) to know that YES we are watching and listening. We’re big fans of Technorati and when Vancity pops up on someone’s blog, that blog post makes its way through to our internal communications team. But our policy is to respond behind-the-scenes, for example by asking the Branch Manager to follow up.

    We take service issues very seriously. I know your Branch Manager dealt directly with you regarding the original service issue. The bottom line is we’ve made mistakes with your account and that’s not okay. And we really appreciate that our community values and investments have given you a reason to be patient while we worked on your concerns. We’re determined to improve our service to you and make you love us. We will be in touch.

  9. darren

    Sara: Thanks for replying, and I understand that the larger and more regulated the institution, the scarier all this social media stuff is.

    In my previous conversation with my branch manager, she didn’t indicate that she’d read my site (or I don’t recall any indication).

  10. Gene

    Darren you bring up some excellent points. I think the condtion of any organization that is LARGE will always be problematic, at times, with individuals. When companies, credit unions, banks whatever focus on growth they will loose the focus on service. The small credit union I work for is constantly being reminded by people who open accounts just how bad the service can get. But that service level must be a constant for everyone. As you see in this business you don’t get too many second chances. I love the comment from Vancity ‘make you love us’. Sorta like customer relationship management — who the heck manages relationships? Maybe my wife knows.

  11. raidereno

    I have worked at Scott Paper for 20 years and when I started there it was the Scott Paper Credit Union, which merged into Scott Paper/ Pacific Press Credit Union, which merged into Van Tel Safeway Credit Union, which will be merging into Van City next month. I will miss the personal service and attention I received all those years ago because now after reading all of this I am getting a little worried!!

  12. raincoaster

    I’ve worked with VanCity at one remove on a couple of projects, and at every turn I have had the feeling that VanCity is attempting to be just a smidge more modern than their setup will allow them to be. They have certainly got their share of failings, but I’m heartened to see them attempting to do some good works with what they CAN do.

    Essentially, it’s a choice between keeping your money at a mainstream, centralized bank that screws up and is one of the most profitable corporations in the world or putting your money in a Vancouver credit union that also screws up and invests in the social structure. If the rates of mistakes are the same, the social benefit of banking with VanCity will tip the balance in their favour.

    That said, I’d love to see if they screw up on you again. And I certainly hope that they learn to drop legally-neutral comments in blogs that indicate they’re taking action. Something as simple as “Thanks for the heads-up. We’re looking into this” should be sufficient.

  13. Chris Hardjasa

    I’m in the middle of an incredibly frustrating experience with VanCity, one that I am pretty sure will not end well for me.

    Last December, $1600 was stolen from my account via 5 ATM withdrawals, all in the span of 3 days, all at different ATMs across the lower mainlannd. I’m a law student in Cincinnati, and I left Vancouver last August and haven’t set foot in Canada since then. I didn’t notice this until January, when I got my paper statement and kind of stared at it in shock for a while.

    I called VanCity, and the person I spoke to was very nice and promised he’d take care of it. He asked me to send him my ATM card. I did so, and waited. And waited. Someone called maybe a month later, left a message; I called back and did the same and never heard back. I got caught up in school and waited patiently some more.

    I finally got frustrated and called again, and the girl on the line was again quite nice and told me she could see no record of anyone looking into this, no one had my ATM card, no one wrote anything. She was apologetic and promised she’d get on it, and she sent me a Statutory Declaration form that I promptly got notarized and sent back.

    After waiting another few weeks, I called again. The customer service rep I talked to said nothing about the stat dec, and called the security people immediately.

    This is the kicker: apparently, the security team says that because there was no ‘card skimming’, meaning my card was, apparently, not duplicated (something I have a bit of a hard time with, considering my card was WITH ME, in my studio apartment, in OHIO), they would not reimburse me.

    Apparently it didn’t fit the ‘pattern’ of card skimming the mighty security gods use for their security profile. The member services manager kept saying the same things over and over again, that usually they drain the account, they knew the PIN and didn’t make numerous attempts, and no other card skimming events were reported at the time.

    And apparently, my branch manager seems to think that the criminals that do this empty out accounts at the liquor store or 7-11 or something, as though they’re all homeless or some homogenous group of stupid criminals. Uh okay. These people are some of the most sophisticated white collar criminals in the world. I somehow don’t think that they’ll be risking prison for a bunch of
    hotdogs at 7-11.

    I kept saying: please explain to me how my card could have been in two places at once. Then she implied it was my fault, that maybe I’d left it lying around, didn’t conceal my PIN carefully, had a roommate (which I’ve never had), etc.

    Apparently, VanCity will not cover you if: your card gets stolen and your account gets drained before you know it and report it; if someone looks over your shoulder, sees your PIN, steals your card and steals your money; etc, etc. They pretty much won’t cover you for much at all, other than when criminals are stupid enough to fit into this ridiculous pattern they’ve come up with.

    A friend of mine works for a very, very large worldwide credit card company and says that this is idiotic. He’s worked with electronic funds transfer systems, the security and fraud departments at his company, and he says that no professional white collar criminals drain the accounts, they take a bit out and move on to the next card, hoping it never gets noticed at all. Most of my friends here in the US think it’s completely insane how very little liability VanCity will assume for anything.

    But that’s besides the point. Both managers at my branch were not even remotely sympathetic, unlike the customer service reps who looked at my account and thought it looked odd at first glance. They just kept feeding me the same lines about how this didn’t fit the pattern (I said, your pattern needs to be upgraded) without being able to explain to me how the security people concluded my card was NOT duplicated, yet it somehow magically managed to be 3000 or whatever miles away from those ATMs on those days. I was taking an exam on the first day; I was on a plane on the last day of the withdrawals.

    The branch manager said VanCity is pretty generous with its liability. I thought that was hilarious. In the US banks are so competitive that they will cover all unauthorized use, even if you are a complete idiot and spray-paint it on your wall, or something. I don’t even expect or ask that from VanCity. I thought this would be really simple, and the customer service reps assured me it would be: it looked like an open and shut case of fraud to them, considering I have been in Ohio all this time.

    After arguing fruitlessly some more with the manager, they’re sending the case back to security, but somehow I don’t think I’ll get that money back. Nor will I get a new ATM card, and apparently they have no idea where the ATM card OR the statutory declaration is.

    Needless to say I am not staying with them. But honestly: even if their policies wouldn’t cover this, which is so absurd I still can’t wrap my head around it (even in a business sense it’s idiotic) – I really would have liked to have been treated better by the managers (the customer service people were all pretty nice).

    I really would have liked to have been treated like this wasn’t somehow my fault, or that I was just complaining about something that wasn’t a big deal, or at least an apology that something this horrible happened to me. I worked my ass off waitressing and at coffee shops throughout undergrad to pay for my tuition and save up for law school, $1600 is a really big deal to me. I’m beginning to accept I’ve probably lost it, but it would have been nice for them to have at least, at the very least acknowledged how bad this was for me.

    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I thought this might be a good place to bitch about this. I’m still waiting to hear back, but I am so unhappy with the service I’ve gotten so far that I really don’t want to deal with them ever again. I’m in the process of transferring banks, thank god.

  14. Sara Holland, Vancity Public Affairs and Corporate Communications

    I’m sorry about your experience, Chris. ATM (debit) card skimming and other forms of fraud are sad facts of life that we grapple with every single day at Vancity. These situations aren’t always straight forward, but that’s no excuse for the service you got. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been to first find your card compromised, then not get the response you expected from us. We apologize that you got bounced around and that you didn’t feel we were responsive or empathetic when you finally got to the right person. We’ll do better. In the meantime we’re working on getting an answer for you and your branch will be in touch with you offline.

    Vancity staff Reply:

    Can we please impose a ban on PR people responding to these posts?
    I’m sorry, but in my opinion, the response should come from a real person on the front line for customers, like the branch manager who handled this case.
    If the response is coming from someone in PR, they have just given us a pretty response that suddenly sounds just wonderful.
    Pretty typical of how this company is being run. By PR people, not real people.
    Wake up Tamara!

  15. Chris Hardjasa

    Well, apparently it just takes four months and a public complaint to get my money returned to me. Happily, I’ve gotten the money credited to my account now, but I really never want to go through this ridiculous experience again.

  16. Joanna

    I went to Hastings Van City in Burnaby today based on the radio ad about “Come in for $25 if you are under 25”. So thinking that Van city was an acceptable bank to go to, plus to take advantage of the promo, I went in today June 23 2007 to open an account and apply for a credit card. I was helped by account manager Jane Wang. It took a while for the account to set up, and after being told I had a low credit rating, I appreciated her advise of how to raise my credit rating. So after depositing $20 of my own and getting the $25 promo, I requested a debit card. Since it was almost 3pm on a Saturday and they were closing she referred me to come back Monday to get one. I was not happy with the service that I was told to come back later when I was ready to get a debit card right then and there. I then asked if she could just go and get me the money I deposited in the account since I needed the cash then and there. She then replied why I would come in deposit money and take it back out right away, and ignored my request for the withdrawal. I was appalled and ignored her and left because I was shocked by her lack of customer service and lack of politeness. It was as though she did not appreciate my new account just because my credit is low and that I have very little money. I am a University student trying to make ends meet, not only my first experience at Van city was not appreciated I felt insulted and embarrassed to go back. In the end, I lined up at the teller line at 3:10 pm to get my own debit card and to go get my cash at the debit machine. I am only a student now, but this is the first experience I get at a bank that would last forever, it would resists me from coming back when I do have money say five to ten years from now. I am appalled that this credit union is a hypocrite for advertising young people to come in to open an account and then discriminate them for their credit rating and lack of money. Statistics wise, perhaps it should advertise with a clause of rich kids, or should target those above 25 instead. When I complained to the manager there(name forgotten – blonde tall female), she apologized and gave me a pen to make me feel better. I appreciated the apology but the pen made me feel like some kid she wanted to get rid of.

  17. Joe Customer

    Vancity is not a credit union. There is nothing about them that says “credit union” other than their status as a not-for-profit. Traditionally credit unions take their profit and return it to the membership in the form of lower fees and better interest rates, however, this is not the case with vancity. Their fees are just as high as any bank. They charge you to put your money in the bank and they charge you to take it out. They even charge you for online transactions. They rip people off daily and instead of lowering fees, they build new branches so they can find more people to rip off. Also, vancity owns citizen’s bank, which offers lower fees but is still a rip-off. What kind of credit union owns a bank? there is definitely something fishy with vancity. I’m moving everything somewhere else, which leads me to another dilemma. Most credit unions in BC act like banks. Credit unions are supposed to differentiate themselves based on their fee structure, but not in BC. They are just as bad as banks.

  18. (Sandy)Tall Blonde Female Vancity's North Burnaby Community Branch

    Hi Joanna,

    We appreciate your comments and thank you for choosing Vancity to open your new account. I hope that after our conversation on Saturday June 23rd and my follow up phone call to you on the Tuesday June 26th that everything has been dealt with to your satisfaction and you will continue to do business with us. Again you are a valued member and we appreciate your business. Please feel free to contact me directly via e-mail or phone or ask for me next time you are in the branch.

  19. Brad Flewelling

    NOTICE TO: Vancity Savings Business Accounts

    If you have a line of credit or business loan with Vancity I would suggest you carefully check the fine print of your agreement.

    Our company, while trying to grow and expand was often over the line of credit but we did not realize Vancity Savings was charging interest at Prime Plus 2 1/2% and a 21% penalty interest calculated on a daily basis. If you have an agreement with these terms and conditions it is probably in violation of the Interest Act of Canada. I would suggest you employ the services of an actuary to certify this violation.

    If your agreement is secured by a personal guarantee and it violates the Interest Act or if Vancity increases the interest rate without your written consent then the personal guarantee is probably not enforceable.

    These acts by Vancity Savings against our firm and it’s shareholders has cost us our business and our homes.

    While I am not a lawyer I have done extensive research and have a wealth of legal information and case law that might prevent you from the perils of a legal claim by Vancity.

    Make no mistake, if your account enters into a default situation Vancity will use every legal tool and any amount of money to succeed. In our particular case the debt owing was approximately $200,000 and Vancity has spent well in excess of this amount to collect.

    Vancity Savings promotes themselves as a great community provider of grants (bikes) etc. However the truth is the Bank Act of Canada requires all financial institutions with assets in excess of 1 billion to donate a percentage of their earnings back into the community. Vancity’s net worth is approximately $12.3 Billion with another $500,000 Million in retained earnings.

    They are recognized in the community as a great employer (can you say profit sharing) I knew you could!!!

    Credit Unions and Banks play a very important role in our community and they have to make a profit to stay in business. The problem I have is when they become so big and powerful that they enforce their own rules and regulations upon the consumers for their own unlawful enrichment. The rules and regulations in place to protect consumers rights are not monitored or enforced leaving the likes of Vancity to treat you and charge you whatever they want. Our business account at Vancity had over 1,000 Bank Act violations (All to Vancity’s Profit) and we will continue to pursue all legal avenues until Justice has been served.

    If you steal from Vancity you will go to jail however if they are caught stealing from your bank account they will return the money (but only if they are caught).

    Make no mistake Vancity Savings growth has been at the expense of people and companies like ours.

    To support this I refer you to a Class Action Lawsuit against Vancity Savings a year ago for alleged violations of the Interest Act. This lawsuit was settled out of court for approximately $2.8 million. Recently another Class Action Lawsuit was launched for alleged Interest Act violations. Any settlement
    paid by Vancity Savings pales in comparison to what they made in profit for these alleged violations.

    I encourage business owners to post any concerns about their banking problems with Vancity Savings. Actions taken by Vancity Savings against you or your company may release you from any obligations to them.

    To loathe Vancity Savings is putting it very mildly.

  20. Laura Peacock

    It isn’t over the Interest Act (that’s a 60% rate) and I hate to be a bag, but the rates you quoted are industry standard.

  21. Paul Ingraham

    VanCity customer services has gone straight downhill for years now. They have erected all the standard barriers to customer communication: crappy web forms and voice menus, crappy website bullshit that makes you tear your hair out, runarounds for the smallest things, new fees for trivial things every time you turn around.

    The latest was that they removed the ability to get cheques printed at my branch. I used to be able to just, y’know, get some cheques. “Could you print me some cheques?” I’d said, and they’d say, “Sure, no problem,” and they’d print some cheques and hand them to me. Nice. But now they won’t do it at all for business accounts, and you have to pay $4 for 8 cheques for a personal account. Oh, and you have to order by phone and then go pick them up “after a day or two.”

    You really have to go out of your way to ruin a good thing that thoroughly!

    And on and on. Buncha crap. Would change institutions, but it’s the same everywhere as far as I can tell. Nowhere to run to.

  22. Kris

    I’ve been with Vancity since 1991 and always had pretty damn good service from them.
    Any time I’ve ever had to deal with customer service, they’ve alway helped me out and been very understanding. For instance, if my account was overdrawn and there was a hold put on it, if I called and explained my situation, they would take it off.
    Not too long ago, maybe 1month, my account was compromised by someone who tinkered around with an atm machine I used. Vancity called me and told me they had put a hold on my account and cancelled my card and that if any transaction was not made by me,they would take care of it immediately. I didn’t have a clue that my account was in potential limbo, but they were right on it. My account was fine, but they let me know, as where, other bands might miss that kind of thing.
    I’ve been very happy with their service and plan to stay with them.

  23. Jonas Johnson

    I’ve been a member of Vancity for over 5 years and they’ve been horrible to deal with. When it came to extended credit, mortgages, credit cards, or car loans, they’ve always told me I wasn’t going to get it BEFORE they processed my application. They told me I was a credit seeker in spite of the fact that I paid off $20,000 in student loans 5 years after receiving them!

    What I found out through an article in the National Post, was that when you open an account with them, they profile you by giving you a number. This number tells the teller and customer service how important you are as a client to them and they will treat you accordingly! As my branch is in West Vancouver, it must be the only one without a million bucks in it, and they’ve always treated me like crap!

    So I had to get my loans at other institutions, but never Vancity, they would never help me!

  24. Jonas Johnson

    One more thing, when my account was compromised and completely emptied, they NEVER contacted me! I only found out when my debit card didn’t work after dinner with friends! Embarrassing! I had to call them to find out what was going on. It took a week for them to return the money and they were assholes the entire time.

  25. olivia destandau

    Well this is very informative and a bit scary. I am a newly landed immigrant from the US and I was wondering where I should begin my fiscal life in BC.

    I really appreciate all I have heard from you all regarding your experiences and from what has been said here have some places to look (other than VanCity).

    My thanks to you all.

  26. John Smith

    I came across this page while investigating VanCity, it’s amazing how consistent the banks are coast to coast. RBC staff are rude everywhere (i.e. completely asshole the likes of which I have never seen before) and generally incompetent. I just opened an account with VanCity… and the mistakes have already begun (2 so far). And yes, I found TD staff to be fairly pleasant too.

    Exactly the experiences others described above.

  27. Ron

    I too have 3 big beefs with Vancity (North Road, Burnaby). I was a member for 20 years and in that time had paid off 2 mortgages and had invested in mutual funds with Credential Asset Management.
    I went in for a Line Of Credit for bridge financing for a house purchase and thought they would give me a good interest rate (I have a credit rating of over 825, which is superlative). They would not give me a better rate than any other bank that I just stepped in the door to talk with. I was then lied to, and was never given an apology when I caught them in that lie.They had thrown in extra charges when I paid the LOC off, that they said would not be charged. The extra charges were buried in my statement. When I spoke with the person who set up the LOC as to why she included the charges after saying she wouldn’t, she said that she didn’t agree to it. When I produced evidence, she got very condescending.
    I got up right then and there, and proceeded to the line-up to close my accounts. Only then did she say she would reverse the charge.
    Last fall I went in to re-up my mutual funds in my RRSP (the only thing I had left at the bank) and, after the ABCP collapse (Asset Backed Commercial Paper) in August 2007, I asked my broker, Nick Grychowski (who works out of the North Road branch), if there was anything amiss that I should know about, since my funds had started losing money. At that time I had not known about the collapse. My mutual funds were going down and Nick Grychowski, from Credential Asset Management, told me that there was nothing amiss and there was nothing to worry about. So I re-signed for another year. How come he had not informed me of the potential problem with my funds because of Credential having multi-millions frozen in the ABCP debacle (he got his broker’s commission though).
    In January 2008 I then find out that Credential had lost millions in the collapse through the news. I phoned Vancity and, in turn Credential, to find out what was going on. Complete silence on their part. By this time my funds have dropped 20 per cent.
    I then tried to get my money out of the mutual funds since I’m not getting any co-operation. It takes until March (2 plus months) and countless emails and phone calls to everyone up to the CEO (Tamara Vrooman) of Vancity (I ended up losing 20 percent of my investment from the time I re-upped). Tamara Vrooman used to be Gordon Campbell’s right hand (wo)man, so it just goes to show where Vancity is headed. They lied to me about who their Director of Finances was, which I had been in contact with numerous times. This person (Mr. Atkinson) even passed himself off to me as the Director.
    I was so livid that I went to their Annual General Meeting and signed up to speak.
    They were going to allow me to speak until they found out that I was going to ask about how they were ripping off clients by not telling them about the ABCP collapse and how it would affect their mutual funds.
    I believe if enough people have gone through the same thing (I know I’m not the only one who’s had their funds re-newed without any mention of the ABCP rip-off), we can start a class action lawsuit against both Vancity and Credential Asset Management.
    To add insult, they tried to pocket my membership fees when I left the credit union. How slimy is that????? I had to fight to get my 10 or 15 bucks back.
    I can’t believe how I was treated, even after there was numerous erroneous accesses into my accounts over those 20 years due to teller mistakes (which I let go because I thought they cared for the customer). They were paying other peoples bills on my accounts because the teller forgot to close my account before the next person in line came up to the teller.
    I have finally got a case about the mutual funds in front of the MFDA (Mutual Fund Dealers Association), but have found out through a CTV W-Five program that they will protect the broker and I’ll never see my money, unless I sue through a class action or something comparable.
    I have written to CTV (W-Five, Marketplace) and all local papers and radio stations, but have not been contacted by anyone.
    We have to stand up to these juggernauts and let them lose their gigantic bonuses for ripping us off!!!!!

    v Reply:

    wow. that is an astounding lack of conscience on their part. i used to be with vancity but found them to be like all the rest. actually, they were quite rude on a number of occasions so i went to BMO and i am much happier. the service is better by far.
    thanks for sharing your story — i think it will open some eyes.

    Vancity staff Reply:

    Feel sorry for you.
    I know how we handle complaints in this company, it is screwy. It goes to Tamara, then she pawns it off to the nearest VP or Director, or in your case Michael Atkinson. Their job is to get rid of you asap.
    What can I say, this company sucks wind. Hoping they fire me with the other restructured departments so I can get a compensation package and leave.

  28. jonathan

    I found this forum on a google search for “Vancity Credit Policy”

    I just received a telephone call from a Luc Hilderman at VanCity. Luc was calling to tell me that because the credit union was loosing money with it’s lines of credit that my “Vancity Prime” + .15% line of credit was going to be increased to “Vancity Prime” + 1% = to put that into perspective that will cost ma an additional $3000 per year.

    I negotiated that rate and feel really, really pissed off that they would have the audacity to change the terms of the previously made agreement.

    Apparently they are sending out packages to all members with variable rate lines of credit explaining the predicament.

    The bank of canada rate is .25% they are currently charging me 2.40% no risk, with 100% security so I am really perplexed as to how this can be loosing them money.

    I am really, really disappointed and intend to fight this.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

    j

    Bob the builder Reply:

    They gave me 2.00% today on a 1 yr GIC. How do you think they are making money lending you at 2.40%? But I understand the frustration part about the previously agreed term on you line of credit.

    Curious, how do you exactly intend to fight this?

    VanCity member Reply:

    My understanding is that the loan terms you signed do not allow them to do this. So they are asking everyone to sign a new agreement. IMO this is legally dubious. The claim is that if you refuse to sign they can invoke the “payable on demand” terms in your loan agreement which require you to pay it off in full. I’m also not sure whether that’s legally defensible. They are kind of in a bind. My advice would be to read the fine print carefully. Good luck!

  29. Bob the builder

    I think that this “callable” feature is pretty standard on line of credits. And I’m certain that their legal base is well covered. Whether this is good PR is another matter.

  30. Mar

    Jonathan, if you are keeping in touch with this board, can you tell me how you made out with fighting the Vancity over the SLOC rate increase they are imposing?

    I just got a letter on June 26, 2009 stating the same thing and am currently having the Financial Institutions Commission review my agreement and the letter. I feel this is threatening and unethical. While I may have agreed to the 1% increase, I do not agree to the wording in the Amendment that they can change any provision, not just the incremental rate, at any time. Where is my security with that? None.

    It was a Vancity financial advisor who said this was the best for me when my closed mortgage came up for renewal. Now I will be faced with legal fees etc. if I want to go elsewhere, or with any of their other mortgages for that matter.

    I’m so mad right now, I’m thinking of contacting a lawyer and pulling out everything from Vancity even it it is at a loss–and I have a lot of funds invested with them. I don’t trust them anymore.

    adina Reply:

    We got the same creditline letter from Vancity.
    It is not the increase in rate that we are too
    upset about actually. If Vancity is really not
    making money, we understand that perhaps it’s
    reasonable to increase our loc rate. (though we didn’t complain when the prime was high, our loc was close to 10 years old now). If you look at the news media, Vancity tries to portray itself as this is just a business necessity, like what other banks have been doing.
    However, it is NOT WHAT IT SEEMS if the news media actually look at the fine print. Vancity expects its members to pretty much sign a blank cheque, giving Vancity full rights to increase whatever rate it wants. How is that going to be reasonable? That makes us so angry. We told them go increase our rate, upto x% if you like, but we really can’t sign based on the wording of Vancity amendment. It is totally outrageus and so sneaky. How is that for win-lose, Vancity wins, customers lose, that’s not how decent companies do business and expect to grow.

  31. Vancity Member

    If you look at Vancity’s 2009 Media Releases, they boast about their profits being up nearly 50%!!!!!!!!!

    Also, they go on to brag about distributing $612,827 to community organiztions. So let me get this straight. At the expense of their members, they are distributing donations and profits so that they can appear like heroes “giving back to the community”????!!!!!!

    Their little scheme is going to cost me upwards of $3,500 annually!!!! Of course, I will not sign or agree to anything. I will happily move my mortgage & banking to another institution.

  32. Sherry

    Good point about their profits, Vancity Member!

    This is outrageous. I just opened my letter today because I thought it was just another statement. How can they just expect us to blindly sign something like this?!

    Have people shopped around for other alternatives? I’m going to start looking, but it’s just a hassle to move banks. But I also don’t want to get ripped off. Signing something that gives them carte blanche is pretty crazy. I’m so angry!

  33. Max

    Based on some limited legal training and a career in business I’d guess that the proposed amendment is highly unlikely to be be found valid or enforceable:

    1. There is no consideration for the change; i.e. nothing is offered in exchange for acceding to the amendment.

    2. A contract in which one party can make up the terms as they go along is no contract at all. A contract is an agreement and there can be no agreement if one party doesn’t know what they might be agreeing to.

    3. The amendment is inequitable. One party holds utterly disproportionate power in that they can make any change they deem fit in the terms of the contract, whereas the other party has no right of amendment.

  34. Vancity staff

    I had to laugh when I saw Sara Holland post a comment here. I’ve worked for VC for 15 years and I can tell you that since CEO Tamara Vrooman took over, we seem to not be run by real people, but by our Public Relations people at head office.

    For all the poor members out there who feel the company service is going down, I completely agree. Just feel more sorry for the staff who have to work for such a screwed up company.

    I don’t even know if Sara Holland still works in our PR department. The reason is that so many people have been “restructured” (read “fired”) from the company in 2009 that I don’t even recall.

    I work for VC but I hate it as much as you do.

    Vancity staff Reply:

    I am going to die laughing if someone from the PR department responds to this post. Please, at least pass this one on the someone in HR, who is just as useless.

    No Name Girl Vancouver Reply:

    Someone in HR you say … I thought they were all fired too?? hahaha And now that your new VP of HR has moved in to the hot seat … trust me .. things are only going to get a whole lot worse! She was right there with Tamara when they (the liberal government) tore up all those union contracts in health care … I am just saying … watch yourself. I am now VERY happily an X-employee and an X member. Love TD by the way.

  35. Tawnya

    omg. i cannot believe Vancity.. i always thought it was a great bank until i started to have issues with my 2 accounts due to a cash store loan.. im a struggling young mother on income assistance, when i had my check directly deposited into my account the teller at the squamish savings vancity branch messed up on the deposit slip but only after she reasured me a 100 times that it would be deposited into my jumpstart account apose to my chequings. So 1:30am rolls around and i go to transfer the money into another account when i notice instead of 1061.00 i only have $726.00. i was totally floored that she could have done this wrong. I returned to the bank that day.. only to be told, yes she did make the mistake but it was my fault, iam not able to be refunded the 335.00 because the account was in nsf. ( which it should have only been $65.00). and that i was breaking the law by not paying it and transfering the money out. I was so madd if she hadn’t made this mistake it would have never taken the 335.00 and i would have just gone into the branch and pay the NSF charge. So here i am sitting here unable to pay my rent or buy food because the customer service rep couldn’t do her job.. im so frustrated i will never bank with squamish savings. they are horrible.

    embarrassedVCemployee Reply:

    I’m embarrassed to say I work for Vancity. The place is falling apart. Since Tamara ex-liberal government hack took over , it’s gone to pieces. Everyone hates working there. All principles are out the window. It’s a slash and burn policy. All so Tamara can go to business luncheons bragging about how she is increasing “profits”

    The only hope for Vancity is to get rid of her, and her heartless policies. Unfortunately she is preparing Vancity for the next great depression, which isn’g going to happen. Its’ sad for all the old-timers working there. They are embarrassed, scared and feeling hopeless.

    All I can recommend is to get as far away from there as possible. Maybe, with some luck Coast Capital will take it over eventually

    Ex_employee Reply:

    VanCity needs a wake-up call. As a former employee at Citizens Bank, I would have to support the comments made thus far by other employees. VanCity has a great marketing department with very smart people but its managers do not follow up that marketing with results. I have worked at other banks in the past who have followed a different model of service delivery and when measuring VanCity against more competitive banks it falls short. The CEO needs to wake up and finally focus on quality service instead of selling a brand that does not exist in reality.

    No Name Girl Vancouver Reply:

    Sadly I agree with you. I, like many many others, left Vancity with a deeply broken heart and a completely crushed spirit. It took me a little over 6 months to get back on my feet and feel like I was an OK person with something valuable to contribute to the workforce. I am fine now and working again (and very happy) … but I still have moments of real sadness at what has happened to what was once such a bright star on the local business scene. Nowadays (and for about the last 2 – 3 years) Vancity is just a house of polished PR cards and fake-oh spin. Saddest part is they actually believe their own bullsh–t and refuse to listen to their employees who are so desperate to save this sinking ship!

    Douglas Reply:

    We have had business dealings (deposits, loans, and insurance) with Vancity for 10 years. Things have dramatically changed, not for the better.

    Vancity previously (pre-the current CEO regime), say 2006 & earlier, was a real decent, care-about-the-customer type of organization from the bottom to the top. When the CEO change happened in 2007 it has been a fast downhill slide for customer service and a wipe out of client-focused management. By all facets, other than legal structure, this organization is a Bank with a capital ‘B’.

    We have had numerous issues, some battles, with them. Where should I start? Unqualified customer service staff (particularly call centre staff), staff with lack of knowledge about products (including people in the position of mortgage lending — eg. no conception of a ‘blend and extend’ scenario), no competitive response to mortgage financing, ill trained (educated?) insurance staff, online systems that fail, management that does not respond to correspondence, and more. We have peeled away some of our business to ING. When the mortgage term ends, we’ll be looking at alternative options. It clearly appears that the management has objectives that are counter to my interests. It is just baffling that the Board of directors takes no action to remove the CEO. And no director candidates make any public statement that they would move to make a management change. Yikes.

  36. Alvin Shireman

    While travelling in Europe, my Vancity account began showing ATM transactions that were in error. I contacted them. They did not tell me that their system was acting up at the time. After more debit errors, I had Vancity cancel my card. Then I arranged a Fed Ex delivery of a new ATM card. Vancity did to key the new card so it was useless. I had four more months of travel to do and no viable Vancity debit card. My funds were therefore not availiable to me. At that point I was visiting family in the states and decided to return to Vancouver to get a new card. Vancity is denying all liablility for the expense and inconvenience I experienced. What do you think?

  37. Errol

    My wife and I bank at Vancity. I used to be with Westcoast Savings and never had any trouble with them other than the usual lineups etc. At least I could talk to a person and get things resolved quickly and in a friendly manner. Last year I moved to the mainland from Van Island and they were close to where I now live. I’ve had nothing but troubles with them. Try phoning them and see the run around you get. We’ve been put on hold for hours sometimes. When they say they will call back like almost an hour ago, in 6 to 9 minutes, they don’t. Try putting a stop payment on a cheque. I’m switching to another bank by this fall. I just have to scout around some more.

  38. Tom

    Their community spirit is totally bogus. Their so-called vision of social & environmental sustainability is BS as well as as their accountability, responsibility and integrity in how they do business. They’re just another big business that kills neighborhoods by buying up residential properties, renting them out for years, letting them run down, all the while playing the part of slum lords. Then when the properties become run down enough that the community is sick of the sight of them, they bring in their bulldozers, knock the homes down & clear cut the trees to make room for their parking lots. Creeps!

  39. not satisfied coast all the way

    Envision Financial Credit Union is a joke. I bank often at the Langley branch on 64 ave and all I see when I go in there is how incompetent the management is. They treat their staff like ****!!!! I have since moved over to Coast Capital. Much better. How can I expect the tellers to treat me well and give me good service when management doesnt give a flying **** about them? I met with the branch manager once to dispute a hold on funds and they hire humoungously tall DUMB blondes that look like men. She was not able to help me one bit. No education seen in these people and no professionalism. I apologized many times to tellers that need to give my transactions overrides because management treats them poorly everytime they have to come to give them one!

    Exactly!

  40. Annoyed

    I am SO fed up with Vancity. They’re all good and pretty until you husband dies and you need to make an early withdrAwl of a term deposit, and then WELCOME to STALL-land.

    Fly far away if you’re looking for a credit union you can trust. This definitely AIN’T it!!!!

  41. A vancity Member

    Just wanted to say that the members of vancity can get rid of tamera. Vote against her in the general election. Enough votes against her and she’ll be forced off as ceo

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