Was I Discriminated Against By US Bank?

34

I do not like to bring up race when I am treated different from others. At the airport, I am often stopped even though I have Global Entry and do my best to laugh it off, pretending that my Arab sexiness has nothing to do with it. Yesterday, I went to open a business account at a US Bank branch in Montana, my second place of residence, because there is no Chase branch in this entire state. I brought the proper documentation for opening the account including my Arizona driver license.

Unlike when I’m in New York, I was not dressed in my finest garb. I was actually wearing my Emirates pajamas and the World’s Greatest Travel Jacket. Add in that I was opening an account for my New York business and I could see how the transaction could appear suspicious. That’s why when they asked me if I was sure that I was a NY lawyer and if I could prove it, I did not hesitate to point them to the NY Bar’s website. I also did not take offense when they asked for proof of my New York office lease. We are living in a Dodd-Frank world so who knows what documents are needed to comply with regulations. Mind you, US Bank’s website says that none of this is required to open a business checking account.

I also did not think anything of it when my initial deposit check written to my firm was taken into the back room for over thirty minutes, to be ‘examined’. After finally convincing the ‘universal banker’ (an oxymoron given that she could not fathom how one person could have a driver license in Arizona, a law license in Arizona and New York, and maintain a second residence in Montana) that I was indeed an attorney, I was almost able to open an account. Then I was informed that my driver license could not be accepted as proof of identification as it was reissued two months ago. (thank you very much augardiente for helping lose my wallet in Medellin) Apparently, for an ID to be valid it has to be more than three months old. At that moment, I lost it, told the banker that I was a U.S. citizen, and left in disgust.

Today, I called US Bank and asked if there was such a thing as the ‘3 month rule’ to which the representative said absolutely not. He also found the incident to be very strange. On Monday, I shall return to the branch (as it is the only one within 100 miles of where I am) with my passport which the banker kept insisting could not be expired and kept questioning me if it was still valid. Hopefully, then I will be able to open the account.

I’ve been with US Bank since the days of the Northwest Visa Card so it’s not like I am a stranger to the bank. I had all my documents in order so it was not like I came unprepared. This leads me to believe much like the time I was searched at the world’s tiniest airport in the same town that it is something uglier. I hate to say it was discrimination but what else could it be?

 

34 COMMENTS

  1. LOL. It’s one extreme or the other. I’ve encountered the nicest, most generous people in the world and then on occasion these weirdos pop up.

  2. Stop this BS of discrimination. The banker was plain stupid. Until we stop this BS of discrimination, hurt feelings, etc… we will keep regretting the politics on this country.

    • It wasn’t just the banker. It was also the manager. I’m with you on not blaming everything on discrimination because it gets us nowhere but here? It just felt unseemly.

  3. It is obvious. Slightly less than 50% of voting Americans would have treated you in the same manner as the slightly educated (at best) bank teller did.

  4. Look only you know if you were discriminated against. I certainly have had sone suspect dealings with banks over the years but have never trued to open an account in a foreign state. But that GI Joe guy who commented is stupid and does not represent the majority. He is just a very vocal and stupid minority.

    • I’m not overly sensitive to this stuff so I hate making it an issue but this experience actually pissed me off. And of course GI Joe is a jackass but I’ve received far worse on this blog to care for a ‘joke’ that wasn’t even funny.

  5. Welcome to MT and the left behind America. I’m sorry that this has happened to you, but I’m done with this mindset. I’ve had it and hopefully one day these people are treated like the way that they treat others.

    I’m officially the angry white man. Because I now live in a country where this is OK. To be clear it isn’t.

    • It makes no sense. It’s not a mom and pop bank. Are they that bold to be so ridiculous? Again, I hate feeling like I’m being treated differently because of my background but it’s the only explanation I could come up with. I can’t wait to go back on Monday! Better US Bank than bs Wells Fargo where they treat everyone poorly regardless of race haa.

  6. It could have just been two “somebodies” exercising what little power they have, but somehow, I wonder? I admire your ability to keep your sense of humor and your patience. I just hope things don’t get worse in the coming years.
    Good luck on Monday.

    – middle aged Chinese lady (whose family has lived in California since the 1800s and who is still crabby from the time the Immigration officer at LAX asked, “It says here you were born in California, but where are you REALLY from? [Stunned silence goes here] Oh, that question gets *you guys* every time!”)

  7. This is what this country is. And it is going to get a hell of a lot worse in a hurry. I’m leaving (I’ve been abused on other blogs for even saying so) I will not condone Trump’s bigotry and path to the top. Done, selling up, moving out, trying to find a new brighter place.

    It was a sad sad black day in history when he was elected. You will see the outcome. Shameful

  8. @thepointsoflife

    Working for a financial institution myself I wouldn’t say you were discriminated against. It’s just from the story described above there were multiple things listed that could be deemed a red flag. Opening up a business account in a state you don’t do business in, with a “brand new” ID (less than 3 Mo old) will warrant extra questions from any banker that is doing their job. I would go back with your passport and you should be fine. Don’t make too much of a big deal about it.

    • i was happy to answer any questions and like i wrote i understand it may look suspicious. wait till i go in with my passport with two rounds of extra pages with a mongolian visa, i’m sure that will calm their nerves. i think i found a better solution than US Bank.

      • A Mongolian visa wouldn’t arouse questions. They’re just trying to verify your identity. A newly issued ID is more suspect of fraud than a seasoned ID. You have 3 people on this blog that are telling you that it wasn’t discrimination but the banker doing their job by identifying red flags and reduce risk for the bank. 2 of them, myself included, are branch managers for a financial institution. I’m with banker guy and aloha Dave here. Though if you still wanna take the pity party and want to claim discrimination and take your business elsewhere you’re well within your right. Though I do say had you walked in with the same scenario to any bank you’d get the same raised eyebrow.

        • Mongolian visa was a joke. And what do I care if 3 or 300 people tell me how I am supposed to feel? There is no ‘pity party’. And when I walk in to Chase in NYC or Grand Blanc, Michigan or BOA for that matter I get treated with respect. This isn’t my first time opening a bank account.

          I acknowledged that the circumstances may look suspicious but that’s what effective communication is all about.

          Bottom line: There is no such thing as a 3 month rule! If there was, how could I board an airplane, go into a bar? I met the legal requirements for opening an account and that’s the end of the story. So if you don’t want to call it discrimination, then call it stupidity, ignorance, or laziness. It is still wrong.

  9. Meh – what discrimination – you just got a case of bankers stinkeye. It happens even to deplorables who MS with tons of money orders and have account balances that rise and fall like the tides. Being a lawyer you might have aroused suspicion, since only one lawyer has ever been called honest, and he died long ago across from Ford’s Theater.

  10. As a former employee of US Bank and a financial institution employee fo 13 years, you can chalk this one up as miscommunication. So you all know, customer service line and the branch are not always in sync. There is a 90 day discrepency, and as a branch manager I would always have my bankers ask for a 2nd form of ID. especially if it was out of state as it was in your case. US Bank also has a case by case, so we can as our own discression ask for additional info if it seems suspicios. In your case, your from AZ, with a NY business, opening an accout in MT wearing something close to pajamas. Sorry to say it, but thats red flag city. And on top of all that, the bank that gave you the check was probably giving the bankers a hard time verifying the funds due to privacy laws. The real person that droppes the ball was the 800 number customer service for not knowing the policy. If it were my branch? Aside from trying to meet you myself and given youba more welcoming experience, inprobably wouldve done the same. Ask for a 2nd id, and taken the extra steps to verify you. REGARDLESS of nationality. Hope this helps!

  11. What part of MT are you in? I’m from MT currently living in Portland, OR. Heading back home to Great Falls for Thanksgiving. It’s very unfortunate but not unexpected this happened. Whenever I go back home it’s like going in a time warp back to the 80’s.

  12. Trump says it all. What you have been trough is just the beginning of Trump’s administration that will look like in the years to come. Expected to embrace the coming hardship if you’re a people of color (I included).

    • That is an irresponsible thing to say and everyone who has commented that this and Trump somehow are related or this is the wave of the future are misinformed. Whether you voted for him or not, he is our President. I believe that the American people will come together and all this nonsense about minorities living in fear will be nothing more than overblown news headlines. From President Obama to Warren Buffet to Charles Barkley, many people are correctly saying give our new President a chance. And that is what I’m going to do. We can criticize when he makes mistakes but I’m not going to have a negative outlook for America’s future and I’m not going to let myself become a victim. The people at this bank were jerks but they are the exception.

Leave a Reply