My son opened his first bank account yesterday. I went with him since he’s not quite 18 years old. My son had done his research and didn’t like the fees charged at the larger banks, so he opened a savings account at the county bank that is near our house.
In my mind, this was a big deal. He’s a budding entrepreneur and wanted to sell some of his creations. For some reason, this seemed like a milestone in his life. Well … the lady filling out the paperwork could not have been less interested or enthusiastic. She informed us that he could not have a debit card or checking account because “kids under 18 are not responsible.” I said that it’s a good thing he’s turning 18 before he leaves for college and she added, “Oh we make an exception for that.” I asked if the two of us could open a joint account and she said no.
Since he was carrying around uncashed paychecks, we decided to just open the account and look for something else later.
My thought was that the bank lost a huge opportunity. People are loyal to places that treat them nicely. I remember the bank that gave my husband and I our first mortgage. I remember how I was treated when I opened my first business account. If my son becomes a successful entrepreneur, you can bet that his future accounts will not be with this bank. It would have cost them nothing to be pleasant, and they could have secured a customer for life!
Three years ago, my daughter and I wanted to take a “learn to quilt” class at our local quilt store. They ended up canceling the class because there weren’t enough people. My daughter decided she wasn’t that enthusiastic about quilting anyway, and I found a class at a competitive store that was twice as far away. Guess what? Store #2 ran the class even though there were only two students. The other lady and I spent a great deal of money over the course of that four weeks. I bought fabric, backing, batting, rulers, tape and thread. I’m sure I spent at least $300. Not only that, but I went on to take additional classes at that store. In addition, I have a very strong emotional attachment because that’s where I learned to quilt. And I make the trek back there for needles and threads that are not offered at the nearby store.
The original store probably saved less than $100 over four weeks of teacher wages, but they missed an opportunity to nurture a new quilter and to earn the profit on fabric and supplies. They potentially lost the benefits of a life-long quilter, since my daughter has never taken another class. They also missed the opportunity to introduce us to the brands and fabric lines that they carry.
We live amidst a difficult economy, where local banks and quilt stores are struggling to survive. It amazes me to see decisions that I know are not in the best long-term interest of the business. But what do I know? I’m just a customer.