I'm old enough that I can remember when Canadian banks kept true banker's hours. Back in the 1980s, you were lucky if your local branch was open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, with maybe a couple of extra hours on Fridays.
It was primarily for that reason that I finally gave up on the big banks and switched my account to Canada Trust in the late 1980s. Unlike the Big Five, Canada Trust made every effort to make banking convenient for its customers. Their branches opened early and often stayed open well into the evening hours. Plus they were also open on Saturdays.
(Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters)
As an added bonus, not long after I switched, Canada Trust opened a branch in my neighbourhood. Once I had a nearby branch with convenient hours, I figured I could say goodbye to the Big Five forever.
Given their size and financial clout, it was probably inevitable that one of these mega-banks would gobble up my bank. And so it came to pass in 2000 that Toronto-Dominion Bank bought Canada Trust, giving birth to what we know today as TD Canada Trust.
At the time, I was skeptical about this change but, luckily for me and millions of others, the TD banking bigwigs were smart enough to recognize Canada Trust's strengths and incorporate them into the merged branches. They were also smart enough to make Canada Trust's pioneering leader Ed Clark the new CEO of the combined bank.
However, it looks like my initial skepticism was warranted after all, just 15 years after the fact. Since Ed Clark's retirement in late 2014, cracks are starting to appear in the solid, customer-friendly edifice that once was TD Canada Trust.
All that will be left of TD Canada Trust is TD Bank - just another money-grubbing member of Canada's Big Five.
Just last month, I learned that my friendly neighbourhood branch was going to close. No reason was given, just a letter in the mail that assured me that I'd enjoy the "same great service" at a location almost three and a half miles from my home.
I know the employees at my branch are not happy about the move and I'm doubtful the service I get at the new branch will be the same. Nevertheless, I figured I could probably live with this change. Despite the inconvenience to me, the new branch's hours are generous and hopefully many of the staff at my current branch will make the move.
But the latest news suggests that I may have to look elsewhere to do my banking. CBC News recently reported that TD tellers are under severe pressure to sell customers products and services they don't need. The tellers have to meet unrealistic quarterly sales quotas, quotas which have tripled in the last three years.
(Photo: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In the last while, I have to admit that I've occasionally experienced this worrisome trend at my local neighbourhood branch, although the instances of sales pitches have, so far, thankfully been few and far between. Sadly, I do know of at least one employee who quit because of the increased pressure from management.
It's hard to comprehend why TD would risk its hard-earned goodwill with its customer base just to squeeze a few more shekels out of us. After all, this is the bank that just made record profits of $2.5 billion in its last fiscal quarter, up 14 per cent from a year ago.
What I'm seeing is the disappearance of many of the factors that first attracted me to Canada Trust 30 years ago. No longer will I have a bank branch in my neighbourhood and no longer will I have friendly, motivated tellers who have my best interests at heart.
I guess I should have seen this move coming once my bank started phasing the words "Canada Trust" out of its name. You can see it slowly disappearing from the bank's logo, stationery and advertisements. Before long, all that will be left of TD Canada Trust is TD Bank -- just another money-grubbing member of Canada's Big Five.
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