I spoke with an agent of Regions Bank on Friday, November 04, 2011. (More)

It was an interesting conversation. I called to express my irritation with their monthly ATM fee, although they announced they had cancelled it. I was also frustrated by the fact that their account services – non-existent interest rates for example – are inferior to a smaller bank, like the one I opened an account at a few weeks ago after finding out about the monthly ATM fee.

What I found very interesting was how frank the conversation was. The highlight was this exchange:

ME – I don’t understand why you can’t pay interest like my small bank does. They pay me 1%. [Okay, that is really bad compared to how things used to be, but still.] Car loans are amazingly cheap as well. How come you don’t do that?”

BANK – What people don’t understand is that we are not really a bank. We’re a financial services company. In order to make a profit, we have to take fees on financial transactions. Swipe fees for example. And when Congress required us to cut those in half, we had to make up the difference. Hence the monthly transaction fee.

ME – Don’t blame us, the American people for that. The lobbyists for the retail industry lobbied to have your fees cut. So you came after the American people? How does that make sense?

BANK – I understand that sir. We have to make a profit.

ME – Don’t you guys still owe TARP money as well?

BANK – I don’t know about that. I haven’t heard.

ME – So I don’t understand why you guys can’t be more like my new small bank.

BANK – Our costs of business are higher than smaller banks. Our internal operations cost more, and we have to deal with much higher complexities of business.

ME – So what you are telling me is: that you should be broken up.

Silence.

ME – I can’t wait to share that with my friends at our local Occupation.

BANK – Well if there’s nothing else, sir…?

ME – No, thank you.

BANK – Good bye.

Exactly.