|Coming to Grips with a Gripe
Not quite sure how to fix a problem with your bank? FDIC Consumer News asked Kathlyn
Hoekstra, an FDIC attorney in Washington and a specialist in ways to resolve disputes, for
Keep your cool. Dont turn your problem into a personal dispute with a bank
employee. Yelling generally doesnt help, and neither does trying to blame
someone, Hoekstra says.
Ask to speak with a manager, vice president or someone else with the authority to
solve your problem.
Start with a question, not an accusation. Example: Im confused about
this charge. Can you explain it to me?
Before talking to the banker, summarize in your head or on a piece of
paper what the problem is and what youd like done about it. This will help get
your point across, she says.
Think about your second and third choices for solutions. Ask yourself what
might make you feel better if the bank doesnt give you the exact solution you want
but it will accommodate you in another way, Hoekstra says.
If youve been a good customer over the years, point that out to the banker.
If the bank wants to have a continuing relationship with you, she says,
then resolving your problem is in its best interest.
If you cant resolve a serious problem that involves a lot of money, you probably
need outside help. Consider contacting the banks primary
regulator if you believe the institution may be violating a law or regulation. But if
your problem involves a disagreement over a transactionthe kind of dispute a
regulatory agency isnt likely to get involved withyou have a few options. One
is to hire an attorney, but be aware of the costs, especially if the matter were to go to
Hoekstra also suggests consumers look into using an independent mediatora
little-known, lower-cost alternative to hiring an attorney. The mediator listens to both
sides and tries to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution. Theres no
guarantee the bank would agree to the mediation process or the recommendations of a
mediator, but Hoekstra says it might be worth a try. She says mediators can be hired at
little or no cost, and that you can find a reputable service in your area by calling your
local bar association, state or local consumer protection agency, or Better Business Bureau.