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Robert Trigaux

Best and worst of the big banks trying to serve Floridians: Bank of America woes




Nationwide and in Florida, Bank of America ranks well below average and often last among big banks in customer satisfaction. What is the bank really doing about that? (AP photo.)

Wake up and good morning. Whether it's from excessive account fees or sloppy if not downright fraudulent foreclosure processing, banks have been taking bad publicity for years now. The good news is J.D. Power recently looked at banks and surveyed their customers to see if some banks seem to be doing a better jobs than others. Here's the J.D. Power survey.

In Florida, according to J.D. Power's recent retail satisfaction survey, the best bank (surveying bigger banks only) out there is PNC. And the worst.... wait for it.... come on, you know what it will be... is Bank of America. Also getting sub par ratings is Wells Fargo (which took over Wachovia not long ago).

The sad message is that Bank of America and Wells Fargo -- the two biggest banks operating in Florida -- are the worst ranked, suggesting greater familiarity breeds greater customer dissatisfaction. Well done, banking industry!

Curiously, as the rankings below show, those bigger banks that rate higher in Florida are relatively new arrivals. J.D. Power says PNC (Pittsburgh National) scores highest in Florida because of its "in-person" and "online account" activities. It's one of the newest banks in the state, which may also be a factor, with its purchase of RBC's banking business in the state.

Is Bank of America's basement-dwelling ranking a fluke just in Florida? Let's see. In California, J.D. Power's survey found Bank of America the lowest ranked bank in satisfaction. In the Middle Atlantic area: Bank of America was lowest. So, too, in the north central region and northwest areas of the country. And in the Southeast, where Bank of America is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.? It's also last!

In the midwest, Bank of America ranked only second to last, topping somebody called TCF Bank, based in Minnesota, for dud service. In New England, Bank of America barely edged Citibank as the worst. And it just escaped being worst in the South Central partf of the country over a bank called BBVA Compass, which is owned by Spain's Grupo BBVA. Bank of America tied with BBVA Compass for least satsfied customers in the southwestern United States. And in Texas, a relative coup for Bank of America, both BBVA Compass and Citibank ranked lower.

If there was ever a single giant bank in need of a Complete Reboot, it's got to be Bank of America. What is it waiting for?


Here's the ranking of (and a comment on) bigger Florida banks based on a retail customer satisfaction scale where the score of 1,000 is perfect:

1. PNC: 794. The Pittsburgh bank is a newcomer. Let's hope this early high core is not a novelty ranking.

2. Chase (JPMorgan Chase): 785. For those with some years in Tampa Bay, you may remember Chase ran a branch network here in the early 1990s. Let's hope this time around they know what they are doing.

3. BB&T: 783. A North Carolina bank that's managing to stay high in satisfaction. Amusing how its BB&T initials for "Branch Banking & Trust" have been tweaked by bank marketers to now stand for "Best Bank in Town." Does 3d best qualify?

4. Citibank: 780. The once great, now so-so New York giant does not get such great ratings in other parts of the country.

5. Regions: 778. "La... la la la la... la la la la." Catchy theme song but the bank just sold its Morgan Keegan brokerage to Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg to raise more capital.

6. Fifth Third: 777. Well regarded Cincinnati bank for years. But the remains of Ohio banks trying to establish themselves in Florida are littered all over the Sunshine State.

7. SunTrust: 770. One-time Atlanta-based powerhouse used to be an elite institution but lost some of its mojo in the last economic recession.

8. BankAtlantic: 768. Why is this bank even ranked? It's been trying to sell its bank to BB&T in a messy sale for months.

9. Florida Average: 761.

10. WellsFargo/Wachovia: 753. Wachovia used to have a strong consumer reputation. What happened since Wells Fargo bought it?

11. Bank of America: 740. Enough said.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times


[Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 8:00am]


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