Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why You Should Avoid US Federal Credit Union

I'm a customer of US Federal Credit Union. Today, I opened a letter from them dated January 6 (I've been out of town for a couple of weeks), explaining that:
Effective Wednesday, January 27, 2010, the US Federal Credit Union ATM located in the McNamara Alumni Center ... will no longer be in service.
This seems to be the final chapter in the demise of credit union service for the University of Minnesota community. Let me tell you a story.

I came to the U in late 2001. I chose to bank with the University of Minnesota Federal Credit Union. They rocked. Why? First, they treated me like a human being. Second, they gave me a very nice auto loan when TCF laughed in my face (and rolled their eyes vigorously when I told them why TCF turned me down). Third, they were located extremely conveniently right in the middle of campus in Stadium Village. I was happy.

Fast-forward to early 2007. The UMFCU membership was asked to vote on merging with US Federal. I voted no, but the measure passed. On April 1, UMFCU disappeared and everything was re-branded US Federal. Aside from the now-rather-corporate look and feel, so far so good.

Then, US Federal torpedoed the Stadium Village branch. (I don't recall the exact date, but I believe this was sometime in 2009.) WTF? The "closest" branch was now in South Minneapolis, near Lake & Hiawatha. Note that I don't ever bring a car to campus (and this is very common among the University community). The Minneapolis branch is a moderate detour when I'm biking to work, but it's not in a neighborhood where I like to lock my bike outside, and when I'm bussing it would burn an hour to stop in. This wouldn't be so horrible because there was still an ATM on campus, except it didn't take deposits. Banking went from extremely convenient to a major chore.

Now, they are removing the ATM too. The closest alternatives appear to be somewhere in Prospect Park ("just blocks" from the existing ATM according to the letter, but it's actually a full mile) and at Bullwinkle's at Seven Corners on the west bank. Neither takes deposits.

The bottom line is, US Federal Credit Union either doesn't want business from University of Minnesota people or is so utterly clueless about the University community that it appears so. I encourage you to immediately close your accounts and take your business elsewhere. If you wish to make your displeasure known, write to:
Bill Raker, President/CEO
US Federal Credit Union
1400 Riverwood Drive
Burnsville, MN 55337
(As an aside, I also discovered that back when the merger happened, savings accounts were silently converted to a type carrying life insurance, for a fee of course. This garbage was "disclosed" in the fine print - clearly designed to discourage people from realizing they are paying for a service they don't need and thus opting out. Again, more customer-hostile behavior.)

I find this situation particularly amusing in light of US Federal's "Statement of Commitment to Members", which reads in part: "We will uphold our fundamental responsibility to actively serve the many communities within our field of membership. We will treat all members with respect and dignity.... [W]e will continuously improve and communicate our services in a meaningful way.... The credit union ideal is to extend service to all who need and can use it."

Sadly, I do not have any suggestions on alternatives. Certainly, you don't want to deal with TCF, the monster bank that the U is in cahoots with. Any such suggestions would be most welcome in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I have a suggestion - Affinity Plus credit union. There is a branch close to campus (just next to the Arby's and Leaning Tower of Pizza) and they are always very nice when I walk in. You can also get money out (but not deposit money, need to go to a branch for that) at any US Bank ATM in the city, which means there are 2-3 at other places on campus. Check them out at