I glared at the ATM screen. It was the third ATM machine I had tried at the local branch of Bank of America, all with the same disappointing message. The message read, “This machine is unable to dispense money right now.” How can I not get my money out of the bank when I want to? Thoughts of the scene in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” where there is a run on the bank played in my head. Surely we have not come to that have we?
When I arrived home empty handed, I called the 800 customer service number for Bank of America. I expected to have to wait a long time on hold but surprisingly I got right through. A cheerful man with an English accent answered my call identifying his location as Arizona and his name as Nigel. The thought flashed through my mind how odd it was for an Englishman to be working at a B of A customer service call center in Arizona, but I let it go. When I asked Nigel about the ATM situation he replied,
“Oh yes we’ve had many calls from California, Florida and New York, you know, the most populous States, about ATMs being out of money. We can report the situation, but the problem is ATMS are refilled by non-Bank of America subcontractors and they are not all working due to the problems related to the virus. Also, since customers are scared to go inside the bank, they are taking out more cash than normal from the ATM.”
Huh. So kind of a run on the bank after all, or at least a run on the local branch ATMs. But whether it was his soothing English accent, calm demeaner, or a little of both, he talked me back from the edge of panic and advised me to go in to a different branch in person the next day to withdraw money, which I did with no problems. Nigel and I spent a few more minutes commiserating about the absurdity of the situation we found ourselves in. I remarked how surprised I was to get through to him at the call center with no wait time and thanked him for his reassuring assistance. He responded that I was lucky to be at Bank of America because at his bank, they are not answering the phone at all.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Don’t you bank at Bank of America?” “Oh no,” Nigel replied. “I don’t like big banks. I bank at a credit union.”
Submitted by Margaret Ma, Santa Clara County
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series. The links to all twelve parts are: Syllabus, Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, Lesson 7, Lesson 8, Lesson 9, Lesson 10, and Final Exam.