User Unfriendly Services at Bank of America

One of my colleagues in the U.K. recently did some exceptional programming work as a subcontract for a new site design that I just finished, and we agreed that I’d wire transfer payment to her. What should have been a straightforward, simple matter has turned out to be an absurdity that’s not over yet.

It would be ideal if wire transfers could be handled securely online through the bank’s site; however, they don’t offer that yet despite all their other online banking services (I checked). Instead they still require that I physically go to a branch office and fill out the needed paperwork. Not very efficient.

Little did I know what I was in for, and it’s still not over yet as I write this. Here’s the scenario:

Prior to my first visit

I called the bank to find out exactly what information I’d need to have for the wire transfer. They told me that in addition to my account information I needed the recipient bank name, the swift number and the person’s name and account number. I also asked my colleague to confirm for me what her bank needed, which she emailed to me.

Armed with all that information I went to my local branch to complete the transfer.


"I’m sorry but we don’t do wire transfers on Saturdays. You’ll need to come back during the week."


"I’m sorry but we don’t do wire transfers after 2:00pm. You’ll need to come back another day before 2:00pm." (I had gone to the bank at 4:00pm after I’d picked up my son from school.)


"I’m sorry but we need more information on this form. You didn’t provide the address of the bank or of the recipient."

So what they’d advised on the phone wasn’t correct. I’d also provided all the information needed by the recipient bank.

My comment to the bank teller: "Next time will be my 4th visit to try to handle this one transaction. This is nuts. " (And I told her about coming in Saturday and Monday and what they’d told me then, too.)

Her response: "Oh, it must be frustrating for you."

No apology for all this?! Unbelievable.

The Importance of Good Service

Good personal service is so important but is certainly lacking with this absurd experience.

  • I wasn’t provided with complete information in my initial phone inquiry,
  • the teller Saturday could have advised me of the hours they handle wire transfers,
  • the tellers Saturday or Monday could have provided me with the form to fill out that I finally received today.

Better information would have eliminated all these unnecessary trips to the bank.

If I could have handled this transaction online, I would have avoided 4 trips to the bank, over an hour of unbillable time so far running back and forth to the bank, and most importantly to me—my colleague would have her payment by now.

Clearly I’ve gotten used to the convenience of being able to handle so much business online. Wire transfers seem like a natural part of daily online business, especially since it’s offered in multiple ways online, such as via PayPal, Western Union, and many other banks and credit unions. Bank of America is huge and offers many online banking services already. I’m surprised wire transfers aren’t yet part of that.

cc: Branch Manager, Bank of America

[In fairness to them, I’m giving a copy of today’s column to the local branch manager, and I’ll be happy to write about how this scenario ends up.]

11:32 am, pdt16 April, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks (8) ·';}?>

Categories: Personal, Usability, Web Biz


Comments, Trackbacks: 8 so far. Add yours!

  1. I went to the bank to find out the swift # so that funds could be transfered to my acct in the US from Spain... they told me they did not have a swift... I have looked on the internet for the number and also sent an email to BOA without a reply ---

    07:35 pm, pst17 November, 2003Comment by James Knauss

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  2. great to read these comments!! As a Swiss citizen wanted to tranfer money from Europe to my bank account with BANK OF AMERICA I was told by their call center that they do not have a SWIFT number. What a nonsense.
    Will have to wait until Monday and hopefully will find some skilled banker. What a poor, poor, service!!! and how ignorant can bank employees be!!!!!

    06:25 pm, pst26 December, 2003Comment by Margrit Skrzypczak-Vogt

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  3. After being told by my own bank that they don’t have a SWIFT code, I went about searching online myself. Came across your posts, thought you might find this link helpful.

    List of SWIFT Codes

    Perhaps you can pass it along to your "friendly" BOA reps. :)

    07:22 am, pst11 February, 2004Comment by P. Hill

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  4. RE: List of SWIFT Codes

    Thanks so much for this great reference.

    03:11 pm, pst11 February, 2004Comment by Shirley Kaiser

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  5. I find myself in the same predictiment.

    Actually in my case it’s worse because my money is in Australia and I need to transfer some of it to the US. Turns out this is easier said the done. My problem was that I wanted to transfer it to a Bank within a Bank but the online version of a Telegraphic Transfer that Bank of Melbourne provide doesn’t allow me to add the necessary details so I’m now thinking about transfering the some of money to my other account which of a BoA account. I’m hesitant to trust just the Swift code for the Bank that’s not dependent on Location though. So I’m hesitant to just use this BoA swift code (BOFA US3N) and my bank and account to identify the account.

    Were you able to successfully send money from Spain to your BoA account using that Swift code?

    10:32 pm, pst26 February, 2004Comment by Robert Nicholson

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  6. Ive am in the UK and i have just opened an account with BOA, and to my surprise, yes, they do not offer online wire transfers. In todays modern age it is unbelievable. However to there credit, i got the SWIFT code from them at the time of opening my account.
    SWIFT - BOFAUS3N so ive been told.
    Or there ABA routing code:

    hope this is helpfull and correct.

    01:32 pm, pst19 March, 2004Comment by aziz

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  7. So is the SWIFT number the same for all BOA locations? Thank you!

    05:41 am, pdt 6 May, 2004Comment by nat

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  8. Nat, if you look at the links provided on this page about SWIFT codes you’ll see that they’re each different.

    08:49 am, pdt 6 May, 2004Comment by Shirley Kaiser

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This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.


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