$300 for opening account - NOT
Recently I was looking for a new bank and noticed that the PNC branch near me was advertizing a $300 bonus for newly opened accounts. It sounded intriguing. If you don’t want to read to the end I can tell you that this experience instead ended up costing me $25 and a serious amount of wasted time.
Although I consider myself a very savvy consumer and I did smell “if-it-sounds-too-good-to-be-true – it-probably-is”, I thought banking was based on trust and not on fine-print rip-off tactics. Who wants to put their savings in the hands of an institution that tries to make money off you on cute gimmicks? Well, the PNC bank thinks you do.
The account product that was offered to me required monthly direct deposit amounts and the use of the linked credit card at a rate that were ridiculously easy for me to meet. I actually felt quite satisfied when I had just become a new customer. I then proceeded to direct my employer, on-line, to change my bi-weekly salary deposits to PNC and waited to use my new credit card until this had taken effect so that I had the required funds to cover the purchases.
Here is where they get you. The requirements have to be satisfied within a time window that is shorter than the time it took my employer to change the direct deposit!! It is very probable that the sales clerk told me about the time issue, and it was undoubtedly in the fine-print somewhere, but it simply didn’t register with me. Why would anyone pay attention to such a scheme? If you well meet the requirements (and I am a very good deal to any bank) you assume that they will honor the deal that attracted you to them in the first place.
Needless to say I redirected my deposits again and once it had taken effect attempted to transfer my funds out to another bank using the PNC on-line tools. This didn’t work, since they impose a ridiculously small monthly cap on what you are allowed to transfer that way. I then had to visit the branch where I had opened the account and was told that there was a $25 penalty for terminating the account!!! I gladly paid it, got my check and left PNC for good.
What this experience told me was that PNC is about making a quick buck on anyone. They clearly have no interest in building long-term trust with customers. This may be old-fashioned but is something I still expect from an institution that I entrust with my money. I can only imagine the many other fees and restrictions I would gradually have discovered if I had had to stay with this shady outfit. (If you wonder about the clerk who originally opened the account for me, he had skipped town and was not available for comments).