Look Inside Umpqua Bank

It’s been awhile since I talked about banks. A couple of weeks ago, I took some pics of the inside lobby of the Umpqua branch I usually bank at. They’re up on Capitol Hill, on Broadway by All Pilgrims Church.

First, they have three wireless stations. I couldn’t take a picture, because all three were in use, and I didn’t want to invade people’s privacy. But you can just come in, sit down, and use the wireless at my bank. I don’t think you have to have an account there to do it either.

And when you stop by the bank, you can have some coffee or tea.

Have a cup!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, just a few feet down from the coffee bar is the golden “bat phone”. I don’t know what they really call it. It’s gold color, and you can reach anyone in a department by picking up the receiver and pressing a single button. And I do mean anyone. Seriously. Pressing 8 will connect you to the bank president.

I haven’t tried it yet. Behold the bat phone for yourself:

Call Us!

 

 

Really, Call Us!

So that’s a quick look inside my new bank. Coffee, wireless, and their very own bat phone. 🙂 Remember, they also give me chocolate every time I deposit money. What’s not to like?

I know I left Well’s Fargo for moral reasons, but the coolness factor at my bank is also worth it. If you haven’t moved to a new bank yet, I highly recommend Umpqua. If you are worried about not having unlimited access to ATMs, ask yourself: how often you get cash at ATMs? If you’re like me, you get more of your cash back at registers during daily activities.

Seriously. It’s time to realize that money is much more accessible than it used to be. ATMs are not the key to cash anymore: your pin number is. Our money moves faster than we do, and no one should charge us to hold onto it. These are things it’s taken me years to learn, and there’s so much more I don’t understand.

Do yourself a favor. Experiment with your mobility. Open a secondary, online only bank account. Switch to a credit union or local bank. Try something to shake up the idea that “bricks and machines” are vital to financial existence. It’s scary, but worth it.

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The quest to get Wells Fargo to stop investing in private prisons continues. I’ve moved all my money out. Why not move yours too?

Prison Divestment Movement

Portland Business Journal by Matthew Kish , Business Journal staff writer

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 10:00am PDT – Last Modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 2:40pm PDT

Wells Fargo shareholders want to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.Wells Fargo shareholders want to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.
Matthew Kish
Business Journal staff writer –Portland Business Journal

This story has been updated from its original version.

A group of Wells Fargo shareholders wants the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission  to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.

The San Francisco-based bank’s annual meeting last month was disrupted by protesters who were eventually removed from the meeting. Twenty-four people were arrested, according to Bloomberg.

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Umpqua Branches Update

Ok, I didn’t look hard enough. My bank has WAY more than two branches. They’re all over Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California. In Seattle alone they have about 15 branches, around one branch in each neighborhood.

Check it out for yourself: http://www.umpquabank.com/locator/new/

I Found A Bank That Will Take Me!!

Edit: I thought Umpqua only had two branches. That is beyond not true. My new bank has WAY more than two branches. They’re all over Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California. Check it out for yourself: http://www.umpquabank.com/locator/new/ Ok, carry on with the post. 🙂

I am now a member at Umpqua Bank, “the greatest bank in the world”. And I have to say, they’re pretty cool. Here’s how it happened:

The regular readers here know I’ve been on a quest since September of 2011 to find a new place to move my banking. At first it was about our “too big to fail” banks and their attitudes around customer service, fee rollouts, etc. I decided to move out of Wells Fargo. It was a difficult choice in a way, because my family banked at Wells for years when I was a kid, and they have branches everywhere I have people.

But I have been learning that where you have your money matters ethically, even if you don’t have much.

I started by looking to join a credit union. Boy did that backfire on me. None of the credit unions wanted me. Once because my credit score wasn’t high enough (looking at you Salal, with your minimum 600 score requirement). Another time Chexsystems blocked me out.

So, after feeling like the school nerd trying in vain to get a date with the prom queen, I sucked it up again and started looking at local banks.

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Local Bank Websites: Who To Visit?

So, in my last post, I let you know that, once again, I was denied an account at BECU. I’ve given up on getting an account there, and am moving on to try local banks. The first step, of course, is looking at their websites to decide which banks will be the best to visit, considering my financial situation. I’ll share the information with you after the page break.

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Credit Unions: For Perfect People Only?

Well, I did it again. I went over to BECU this morning and tried to open an account. *sigh* I thought that since I had paid off the Chexsystems issue about four months ago, things would be okay. Nope. Chexsystems STILL had the US Bank thing listed as unpaid. Which means no BECU account for me.

The lady I talked to (different one from the first time) said that even if I came in with a letter from US Bank saying it had been paid off, they aren’t allowed to override their computers and open an account. And apparently, Chexsystems can leave that on my report for up to FIVE YEARS.

You know, I feel a bit like a high school outcast trying to get a date with the prom queen. This just isn’t going to happen. The credit union crowd sits at the popular table in the school cafeteria, and I’m never going to be allowed to put my books on that table, much less eat there.

Hmm..I did notice one thing though when I visited the Chexsystems website just now. In their FAQs, they provide this handy piece of information:

My account was paid. Why wasn’t the report removed?  A reporting member is under no obligation to remove an accurate report of account mishandling due to payment of monies owed. However, the member is obligated to update the report with a paid in full or settled in full date when applicable.

Apparently I need to talk with the folks at US Bank. They haven’t done their part in reporting that I cleared this up.

But to continue on…I can’t let this stop me from moving my money. It’s no longer about the fees Wells Fargo is trying to bring back. It’s about their money they’ve invested in private prisons. I can’t abide it. Those prisons are a form of slavery targeting people of color that’s even more insidious than our publicly funded systems, because there’s much less oversight. I don’t have a lot of money in my account, but it’s the principle of the thing.

So, I need to find something else. Since credit unions are for the popular kids, I’ll check into local banks I guess. I’d hate to go back into the alternative financial sector (a fancy word for payday loans, check cashing places, etc), but I will if it’s the only way to stop supporting this investment.

As always, I’ll report back and let you know. 🙂

Starting May 4th: Wells Fargo fee waivers now even harder to get

I got a message in my inbox from Wells Fargo the other day. Starting May 4th, transferring money back and forth between linked accounts will no longer be an easy way to waive their $10 monthly fee. Now you have to either have more money, or juggle things around like this:
“You can waive the current $10 monthly service fee when you have three additional linked accounts or services (such as a Wells Fargo debit card, savings account, online banking or direct deposit) and one of the following:

  • Maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, OR
  • Maintain a qualifying monthly direct deposit of $500 or more1, OR
  • Maintain a monthly automatic loan payment from this Package checking account to a Wells Fargo home equity/personal loan or line of credit, or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage® loan”         (Source: my Wells Fargo message inbox)

I’m not staying. As soon as my May “Qualifying Direct Deposit” (SSDI) drops in, I’ll be closing my Wells account for good. Of course, there’s another big reason to get out that I just found out about last week.

Wells Fargo is the second largest stockholder in a private prison company called GEO Group. Now, full disclosure, I worked for six months at a private juvenile prison in Missouri. Even though they pretended to care about the kids and rehabilitating, it was still an awful place. And the private adult prisons are worse.

So next week I better go back up to BECU again and see if they’ll let me open an account. Because it’s not just about the fees. I could waive those with my direct deposit. I cannot let my money support private prisons, especially since I know better.

If you want to read the full fee message, it’s below the fold. I’ve included for an FYI, and because I know there are other folks like me who skim stuff and throw it out. This one’s important. Thanks to the customer service folks who put it back for me. 🙂

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