Bank of America: Why All the Hate?

The big banks have certainly regained much of their financial health since the mortgage meltdown, but their reputations have not rebounded in tandem. And, when it comes to the most despised of all the TBTF banking institutions, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) wins that title, hands down.

Why do people loathe B of A so much? The easy answer is, of course, its Countrywide division, with its stable of rotten, subpar loans written before the crisis. A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau bolsters that theory, but I think there is a customer service issue here, as well -- and slowly but surely, Bank of America is working to fix that problem.

Most consumer complaints are mortgage-related
The CFPB's list of complaints is dominated by those tied to home loans -- fully 55% of the database's 90,000 entries. While B of A was the subject of 30% of those grievances, its peers were implicated, as well: Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , which has grabbed one-third of the mortgage market over the past year, prompted nearly 16% of the grievances, with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) coming in third with 10%. Both Wells and JPMorgan responded to the report by noting that they are working assiduously to resolve these complaints.

For its part, Bank of America has noted that its Countrywide issues have put it in the front of the troubled-loan lineup, which would naturally cause the bank to garner the most complaints. In addition, B of A points out that 98% of those registered complaints have been resolved. Indeed, it looks like the bank has been pulling its weight in that regard, taking it on the chin in 22% of these cases, and making it right with the customer. JPMorgan did so in 16% of complaints, and Wells only 9% of the time.

More work needs to be done
While it is clear that B of A is trying to resolve outstanding issues in this area, it will take some time for the dings to its reputation to smooth over. Incidents from the past, such as when the bank attempted to foreclose on homeowners who didn't even have a mortgage, continue to rile people and fuel the anti-B of A fervor. A general distaste for the way the big bank treats mortgage customers has made Bank of America a serious contender for Consumerist's Worst Company in America... for the third year in a row.

As I've mentioned before, the bank has been tagged in the past for being the worst in the mortgage-servicing business, thanks largely to Countrywide. But the bank is making a huge effort to turn around its lousy customer service image, for which it deserves kudos -- and time to get it right.

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Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 12:27 PM, dpolidori2 wrote:

    Bank of America does not stand by their promises nor do they work with people

    When it was Family owned before it was taken over by shareholders BofA cared and helped their customers they actually cared.Now all BofA cares about is MONEY. I'm not playing their game I am suing them and hopefully I can hurt them bad enough to close their doors

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 1:02 PM, Envirojack wrote:

    As a former BofA patron and a former CountryWide Mortgage Holder. I must say that for BofA taking on CountryWide was the worst thing to do. Before doing so BofA in my book was a 3 rating for service and hidden fees persay. Then of course came along CountryWide of which I will never want to do business with again, which in turn says that I will not do business with BofA ever again. They need to come to the conlusion that the customer is the power of their worthiness, not what they hold or how much money they are worth as a company. I came out clean with BofA and CountryWide and moved on, but never will forget the experience.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 1:10 PM, eugene3719 wrote:

    I recently had checks stolen and forged on my bank of america account.. It took me two days to get the right person on the line, then they took care of the problems in a very business like way, and when thyey were thru, it did not cost me any extra charges for all the overdrafts and stop payments.. this coud have cost several hundred dollars, but they took all those charges off voluntarily becaus I had filoed a police report.. I have had other banks, but they did ot do a good job like the BofA.. It has changed how I look at things.. Boa does not have offices where I live in this state and it was necessary to use the phone to get it straightened out..

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 1:28 PM, pksloope wrote:

    I am a longtime BofA customer having been with them before they became B of A, (North Carolina National Bank). I also had a CountryWide Mortgage for a number of years. I can not complain about either one as far as service goes. BofA has also corrected problems quickly and I have never paid fees, mainly because I keep sufficient funds in savings to avoid it. I certainly have never understood the hate I see on some forums. I've just contributed it to sour apples from people who don't handle life very well. For the past year BofA stock has been making money for me, and I expect it to continue to do so. I certainly can not complain.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 2:34 PM, kissthistech wrote:

    Really, you think Countrywide made them hated??! NO, it's just B of A. They have no clue what they are doing to peoples lives and don't care!!! They lie about help available and the departments DO NOT communicate with each other which is the biggest problem of all. No one can tell you a real answer because the turth is they don't know. I opened an accouint in 1985 and closed it in 2005 and not one person even asked why....again, they don't care. They should rename to Bank of Self because they aren't for America!

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 2:39 PM, jzuniga3348 wrote:

    BofA's logo clearly shows what they do. Steal your money. I called BofA to get help with increasing my credit. The specialist on the other side of the line helped me by cutting of all of my credit below what I already owed and then BofA fined me for going over my credit limit. Before my ask for help I was fine. it took several angry calls to other specialist before BofA retracted their fines. I almost free of BofA. I will celebrate when I no longer will have to deal with BofA. It doesn't surprise me that Wells Fargo is related to BofA. I run quickly the other way whenever someones mentions Wells Fargo or Bof A to me. I think the specicalist at Wells Fargo and BofA probably get together and devise ways of creating all kinds of sneaky surcharges for their customers so they can keep more of their money.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 3:05 PM, rdenham1 wrote:

    I think it is improper to solely blame The Banks for their actions. I agree in some cases their charges are far fetched. The Banks would not act this way if it was not for the actions of the government. The government have them scared to death that they are going to do something wrong. They can't get it right.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 3:29 PM, dream1963 wrote:

    My mortgage was with Washington Mutual, serviced by Chase, however when WM closed during the crisis, I learned BofA purchased my mortgage but did not feel they needed to inform me. Later, as I was working with Chase regarding a modification, I was told by Chase, BofA were not involved even though they were the lender. To this day, I have NEVER had any contact with BofA although some of my robo signed docs claimed I did. They are all liars and all the executives of these crime organizations should be in JAIL.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 3:54 PM, mpappaccio wrote:

    I can name a few reason lets see they played games with homeowners looking to modify their home loans, they lost then found documkents when threatened with lawsuits, they assigned theur loan modifications to employees no longer working with B of A leading homeowners to beleive their docs are being reviewd.........list goes on and on.......and on and on B of A is the worst bank stand clear and far from them!

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 4:11 PM, gaconsumer wrote:

    I have NOTHING good to say about BoA. I have been dealing with them for about six months trying to get them to work with me on my mortgage. I have gotten multiple answers the the same questions, many of the people NEVER return your phone calls and all in all the bank comes off as a shoddily run finance company NOT a professional bank as you would think it should be. Previously I had a bank that was bought out by what was then NCNB and the customer service was atrocious back then too and I ended up just closing the account rather than deal with them.

    For the person above who thinks it is because of inability to manage money, think again. I have an EXCELLENT credit rating.

    I have told them when I have spoken to them how terrible they have been in handling things and they get all defensive. Instead of getting defensive,, maybe they should be proactive about all their problems.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 4:26 PM, CPTBlast wrote:

    Are you kidding me??? Bank of America is so incompetent and morally bankrupt the Fool should be ashamed to endorse it in ANY way. Yeah, you can turn a short term profit on the backs of all the people they screw (like the entire United States), but eventually it'll screw you in the end too. I'd just as soon as invest in North Korea, napalm and AK-47 futures.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 4:29 PM, LegendX wrote:

    They have demonstrated themselves to be the "Poster Children" of the word "OBLIVIOUS."

    More limos than a high-shool prom on a daily basis (except weekends of course), at corporate offices and large branchesL Never an apology when proven wrong, only a deflection of blame; and a deeply ingrained philosophy of "Business is one thing. Right & Wrong is another; and THIS IS A BUSINESS!"

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 4:34 PM, Alohachief wrote:

    In 7966, I opened both a savings and a checking account at the B o A branch outside the San Diego Naval Base with government paychecks. I then found out that they were charging me to cash my paycheck and to make deposits and withdrawals and that there was a 10 day delay before I could access the deposits. . I closed both accounts and went to the base credit union. I have refused to do business with BoA ever since.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 5:29 PM, garybthompson wrote:

    i found out that my ex wife had taken out a BoA credit card with a $26k balance and had not paid on it in 2 months. I called and asked for a lowering of the credit card rate which had been hiked to 30%. i spoke with numerous B o A officials and the door was slammed in my face. All i wanted was 6 months at a lower rate to pay it off. I ended up getting a line of credit from another bank and paid it all off. B o A has no heart & should be out of business.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 5:49 PM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    BoA backs the evil Polluters koch brothers and their bought and paid for TEa party and GOP Congress and their mafia style Privilege Crooks of Wall Street who RIP OFF the POOR American People with GREED and Corruption is their TRUE MOTTO

    All These Bank barons are not worried about profits only to Get bigger Bonuses and Pay. they can write off Losses like the big USA mafia OIL . they all get Billions Dollars TAX Breaks from the GOP congress.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 6:01 PM, shelcin wrote:

    I hate BOA because they stiffed me for overdraft fees in the scandal they got sued for. I got half of the fees back from the lawsuit, but they benefitted the other half. I switched to Chase and have not had any fee in 3 years. As soon as they offer an incentive to open an account I will get the rest of my fee money back and never have anything to do with them again. I hope they go under.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 6:44 PM, sirbialik wrote:

    being a former employee/customer of BofA, they have been the best in the financial industry. When it came to laying off, they knew how to do it without anyone knowing about the layoff. On Friday, we had new computers on our desksl; the following Monday, we were told that we were being laid off if we didnt choose a branch to go to n even then, our senority didnt count when it came to vacations/time off. That sucked after being there 7 years. As an ex customer, they still rule. They do everything by the book and thats good. But who buys another company when the market is going down; when the economy is going down, who does that? I use to think highly of BofA but who ever thier upper management is, they need to start pushinb brooms again.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 6:50 PM, thefrood wrote:

    B of A ignores their core business in a pathetic attempt to maximize shareholder value. This is just like the "company stores" sharecroppers were forced to use a century ago, although perhaps not quite so bad. The barrier to entry in the banking industry is so significant that new competition is almost non-existent and alternative options from other banks are scarcely better than the hell you go through with B of A. Would you rather be kicked in the fork or kicked in the head, because as a current banking customer this is about the most flexibility you will see from them.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2013, at 1:56 PM, normnospam wrote:

    Note: I’m the health care director and power of attorney for my elderly neighbor, who I have known for 40 years. She has three broken vertebrae and is paralyzed from the waist down. She has come home from the hospital to die at home.

    Part 1

    So I'm at B of A. I need to see what is in the safe deposit box for B****. I have already spent 6 HOURS OVER TWO DAYS to get on B***** account the previous month. I'm on everything except the credit cards. B of A wants me to drag B***** out of her hospital bed, get an additional POA with two extra signatures. Not ...going.... to.... happen.

    So I ask at that time for copies of what I'm signing. "So sorry, these documents are for Internal Use Only". So I know this is going to bite me in the ass in the future. A month later, when I need to get checks with my name of her account, what a shocker, they don't have me on the account. "When did you sign up for this????" A month ago, you jerks. I was here for 6 hours on two days signing papers, paperwork that you wouldn't give me copies of!!!! 30 minutes later, they finally find the paperwork..... filed somewhere for "processing". Bad sign.... Again..... So I'm at the window for safety deposit box. I hand them my ID, B**** ID, and the box keys, still in the original paper packet. Five minutes go by. I can see through the 2 inches of glass wall the girl looking in several locked drawers. I ask if there is a problem. What a shocker, she can't seem to find the box contract. I ask if she is looking under the right name? Another five minutes go by. I ask again, using my outdoor voice, what's the problem. Some Trollope with a clipboard ask if there is a problem. “ YES, THERE IS A PROBLEM. I'M TRYING TO HELP MY DYING NEIGHBOR GET HER PERSONAL PAPERS FROM HER SAFTEY DEPOSIT BOX, AND YOU HAVE LOST THE PAPERWORK WITH MY POWER OF ATTURNEY, A SECOND TIME.

    Trollope to norm: " do you have any paperwork on it?".

    P.Od Norm to troll" FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK. WHEN I SIGNED THE PAPERWORK TO ADD MY NAME, I ASKED FOR COPIES. I WAS TOLD NO. THESE DOCUMENTS ARE FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. SO NOW I LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT STANDING HERE, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FIND THE FILES. SO NOW WHAT DO I DO??????

    Troll " Was there something important in the box?

    Really pissed off norm" IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT’S IN THE BOX. WHAT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU DON’T LOSE THE PAPERWORK. AGAIN. TAKE A COPY OF MY LISENCE, THE KEYS,AND CALL ME WHEN YOU DECIDE TO BE COMPENTANT.

    They promise to call later that day. They do. To tell me they can’t find the safety box contract, but will call me Monday.

    Monday passes. No call.

    Tues AM. Get a call from J***. They have found the paperwork. When can I be there?

    I tell them 30 minutes.

    Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I get there and there are two W********* PD cars in the lot.

    Just watching people.

    I go in the bank.

    This time, I’m greeted by name as I enter the lobby. The bank has now magically found all of my signature cards from months ago, all the original forms I spent several hours signing, and B***** safe deposit box contract. They have a notary present. We spend the next hour re-signing the original documents (right next to my original signature), then re-notarize my notarized signature.

    Another half day wasted when you consider I had to stop what I was doing, go to the bank, then come home

    And B of A can’t figure out why I hate them.

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