You might need to open an account. Or set up a savings account for your
kid. Or get a certified check. Or get a new ATM card. Or get help retrieving
your new ATM card from the machine that swallowed it. Or discuss obtaining
a line of credit. Or figure out why your records dont jibe with your banks.
ATMs and online banking have largely eliminated the need to visit banks
in person, but when you do need help from a human you want a bank that
offers efficient, gracious, knowledgeable service.
While many area consumers are highly dissatisfied with their banks, the
news is not all bad: Weve also found that you can still obtain high-quality
service at some banks. Our Ratings Tables show the results from our
surveys of area consumers (primarily CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports subscribers)
who were asked to rate banks and credit unions they have used inferior,
adequate, or superior on the following aspects of customer service:
knowledge of staff; speed of service; pleasantness of staff; convenience
of hours; reasonableness of fee policies; clarity of written communications;
and overall service. For each of these aspects of service, our Ratings Tables report the percent of customers who rated each institution superior
(as opposed to adequate or inferior). We have reported results for
all banks and credit unions for which we received at least 10 ratings.
(For more information on our research methods, click here.)
As you can see, at the time of our last full, published article, we found
huge bank-to-bank differences in service quality. For example, for knowledge
of staff, USAA Federal Savings Bank, Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust,
Fox Chase Bank, First National Bank & Trust Company of Newtown, Harleysville
Savings Bank, Susquehanna Bank, Fulton Bank, and Univest were all rated
superior by more than 80 percent of their surveyed customers. On the
other hand, Malvern Federal Savings Bank and Bank of America each received
superior ratings for this aspect of service from fewer than 45 percent
of its surveyed customers.
Youll notice that none of the areas largest banks rates tops for service,
and also that several small banks and credit unions got relatively high
ratings. But not all small banks and not all credit unions scored so well.
Even among the areas largest banks, there is substantial bank-to-bank
variation. For example, TD Bank was rated superior for overall service
by 64 percent of its surveyed customers, and PNC Bank was rated superior
overall by 62 percent of its surveyed customers, compared to only 39 percent
for Bank of America and only 42 percent for Wells Fargo.
Many banks received their lowest scores for reasonableness of fee policies.
With banks relying increasingly on special fees to boost profits, before
opening a new account carefully review the banks feesand consider taking
your business elsewhere if your current bank begins imposing unreasonable
Our Ratings Tables also report our count of the number of branches
each bank has in the Delaware Valley area, and in which parts of the area
the branches are located. Keep in mind that locations open and close frequently.
Also be aware that at many credit unions, customers can use shared branches
to make deposits and withdrawals, transfer funds, etc. When we made our
counts of branch locations for each bank, we did not take into account
shared branch arrangements.