In response to the wake of a rise in bank robberies in New York it seems as if the bank employees in the TD Bank located at 43rd street and 3rd avenue in New York, NY have begun treating black male customers with suspicion, contempt and outright rudeness.
Here's an excerpt from my blog:
An unfortunate aspect of the recession has been a sharp rise in bank robberies in New York, so some bank employees seem to have developed an outwardly hostile attitude towards male African-American customers.
An encounter with just such an employee at a TD Bank in mid-town Manhattan recently led me to close my account with the bank that treated me as a potential bank robber rather than as the loyal customer that I am.
I’m not a security expert, so I can't really instruct TD Bank on how to keep their branches from being robbed.
But I AM an African-American male, so I CAN tell them what it feels like to be profiled in the branch I've used for the past 4 years.
Almost four weeks ago on Friday February 27th inside the TD Bank branch located on 43rd street and 3rd Avenue (the branch I've used for over 4 years) I was reminded of how far this nation has to go in terms of unequal treatment in public and private facilities based on skin color.
It was a Commerce Bank when I first set up my direct deposit from work there, but in recent months it was acquired by TD Bank. Aside from a few overdraft fees for the occasional bounced check, I'm a pretty average customer.
As a 6’7” African-American male, I can only suppose that (to some who don't know me) I cut an imposing figure. I was a professional football player so I am used to being gawked-at, observed, watched and followed by curious people or suspicious store employees (or bank managers) when I go into stores to shop.
It doesn't happen in the majority of instances when I shop but it does happen.
On Friday February 27th, I took a break from work in the afternoon to walk down to the bank and withdraw $1, 200 in cash to pay my rent and Con Ed to the woman I sublet my apartment from.
The teller politely asked for my ID, which I provided. She then asked me if I could wait and took my passport, walked into the back and then returned without it and asked me politely to step aside so she could serve another customer.
I waited for four minutes before a young woman of Indian or East Asian descent, casually strolled from the back, walked behind the counter and sort of just stood there glaring at me without expression with my passport in her hand.
She didn't say anything. Didn't smile or apologize for the delay, or give me a reason why my passport was taken out of site or what they were doing with it in the bank.
Though I was irate and offended, I didn't say anything particularly since one of their uniformed "greeters" casually walked over to where I was waiting and just sort of "took up station" two feet from me.
But I know I was treated differently because I was black.
I decided to do a little checking online and found that a rash of bank robberies in the New York area has led to reviews and overhauls of security measures in various banks.
A casual online search reveals a litany of complaints about TD Bank's sketchy practices. Everything from unjustified overdraft fees, to rude employees.
For example Reuters UK reported that Texas billionaire and scam artist Allen Stanford used to TD Bank to conduct his own ponzi scheme according to court records.
There are other complaints too, but I'm not here to discuss other people's experiences with an uncaring, Canadian-owned financial institution.
I'm writing in the hopes that other people who may have been treated with hostility, lack of courtesy and unprofessional behavior by a bank employee say something about it.
No bank or store employee has the right to treat black people as if they are criminals, especially a bank that has resisted efforts to install security options recommended by the NYPD that could keep tellers and money behind a safe wall so that paranoid, racist bank managers don't have to prowl the bank skulking after black customers.
The Sunday March 15th New York Times reported on efforts by the NYPD to work with banks to voluntarily enact recommendations and "best practices" to try and keep both bank employees and customers safe from the criminals responsible for a string of recent bank robberies in Manhattan.
Among the recommendations are for banks to use security partitions that protect tellers and also employ "greeters", employees who stand at the entrance and greet visitors and customers as a visual deterrent to potential thieves.
TD Bank, according to the article in the Times, has resisted NYPD requests to install security partitions and instead relies on greeters in the lobby and other undisclosed "best practices" which seem to include profiling, and or hostile suspicious managers standing around glaring at black customers who are waiting for service.
Funny, they worry about installing security partitions because it will make customers uncomfortable – but to protect their security, TD Bank allows their employees to treat and regard black customers as if they are in the bank to rob it.
Has this happened to you? Maybe someone you know?
Take action, close your account, write them a letter, call them and share your experiences online with other consumers so they know not to give their business to a company that treats honest loyal customers with contempt and disdain because their skin is darker.