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Friday, July 20, 2007

End of an era

I got a new debit card in the mail the other day, which means that it's time to cut up my old one. And since the institution that issued the cards has changed its name, I'm about to destroy the last one I'll ever have with the old name:

I remember what Portland Teachers was like when I first signed up as a member, 20 years ago or more. You had to have a bona fide connection to employment at a school in the Portland area to become a member. Interest rates on savings accounts were high, interest rates on loans were super low, and the place was run on the cheap so that every last dollar of benefit could be squeezed out on behalf of faculty, administrators, and staff at educational organizations. It was a place where a school janitor could get a cheap line of credit and scare up a few thousand bucks for a year or two if needed. Sure, it was inconveniently located and the systems were primitive, but it was an institution at which little guys could find a deal. It was popular.

That era is most definitely over. Interest rates on savings are scandalously low, interest rates on loans aren't that much better than you'd get at a bank, and the last time I checked the CEO was raking in a cool $1.6 million a year in compensation. Oh, and if you dare to speak up and challenge him and his board about it, they're as nasty as nasty can be. You riffraff stay in your place.

Anybody can join any more, but now why would you want to? They're not as bad as the thieves at most of the banks, but they're just a very thin cut above. The place that had the good deals for little guys is just now a weird little form of bank. Ain't that America.

Comments (14)

I just got my replacement card too. I've been a member since 1989.

I've actually switched most of my business to what was PACE (now Advantis, oy!), because PTCU wanted to charge me an annual fee for having a small line-of-credit (which had a zero balance). Plus, they gave me a bunch of crap when I tried to add my wife to my account. So, I shifted most of my money and I told them that they missed out on my mortgage because of their actions.

They're all getting worse though, what with the changes to the credit union charters. Now I have a much harder time seeing how they shouldn't be treated just like commercial banks.

A better option might be to look into the banking options at discount brokeage houses. I have an account with Charles Schwab; and can't remember the last time I bought a CD that didn't yield at least 5% or better. (And yes - they have 1 month and 3 month CDs available - so you don't have to lock up your money for long periods of time. And certainly better than what most banks pay on savings.)
I also have a checking account linked to my brokerage account and they have a stand alone checking account deal that pays 4.25% on your money while it sits unused. One last thing; I'm not sure at what level they charge fees - but I never pay a cent to buy CDs at Schwab. And most online stock trades are $9.95. And best of all they have all my account information online with balances to the penny.

Maybe it just got too big. I'm in a much smaller credit union and it's still very good.

Anybody can join any more, but now why would you want to?

In the general sense (leaving PCTU/OnPoint in particular aside) I have done all my banking at credit unions for over twenty years because I like my money to stay in the community.

A few years ago I discovered that we could get over five times the interest rate paid by our credit union by moving our money to one of the banks with an internet presence. Over several months I spoke to a couple of the CU's officers and a board member and told them that I'd prefer to keep my money local and they all smiled and promised to look into it. Currently the CU is paying .75 of a percent for a savings account while my east coast "internet" bank is paying 5.05% with full FDIC protection and a two-day transfer time. That's about what the credit union pays on a five-year CD.

Aside from free checking the only benefit we can see with a credit union is that our ATM fees in europe are lower than those of the big banks.

I have not been a member of a credit union since I left the military some time ago but I do remember that there were some very recognizable benefits when compared to regular banks. Belonging to a qualifying group aside, I remember getting a very sweet deal on a car loan.

Now it seems that credit unions are no different than other banks. I could be wrong as I have little experience in the banking industry.

Yeah, I bailed on PTCU after being a 10 year customer right before the OnPoint nonsense. It was very close to around the time they started jacking up loan and line of credit rates. I'm with WaMu now, and the only difference seems to be a better online system and about 6 billion more ATMs.

They also turned me down for a car loan three years ago and I was approved by both WaMu and BofA. What a great 'community' asset they are.

A few months back, I got a new card in the mail from OnPoint. My card had been compromised in the TJ Maxx security breach. they sent me a letter to let me know what had happened and what they were going to do to fix it.

So I dutifully activated my new card and shredded the old one. Done and done.

About a month ago a charge went through on the old shredded card. A card I'd never authorized and that shouldn't have been allowed because the card should have been deactivated. So I called down to OnPoint to find out what had happened. They informed me that the old card had yet to be deactivated. This was well over 75 days later. For 75 days they left my account exposed to potential fraud. It wasn't until I called in to complain that the card was finally deactivated and my money was credited.

Add to that the outsourcing of their mortgage business to Homestreet, and I'm done with OnPoint.

I have been a member since around 1978. I was 14 and my Mom was a teacher.

When I was 34, I sold a house and was waiting for the new one with 70k sitting in my savings. They turned me down for a DEBIT card. Called the manager and they fixed it right away....

Somehow I think I would be SOL today.....

Time to start shopping me thinks....to bad...they were a great place once......


I have removed all my assets but for the minimal five bucks to keep a savings account open and I demand that they send me monthly statements via the US mail.

Four years ago, I had to hire an attorney to threaten suit after they tried to tell me that the mortgage insurance my wife and I had purchased when refinancing our home three years before. You see, my wife had died. They tried to tell me that because they'd sent me a bulk mailing stating that all mortgage insurance had been shifted to a different insurer and that insurer would only cover up to a certain amount. We had purchased insurance that would have covered the entire amount of the unpaid mortgage. They never got my approval of such a change and, indeed, I'd never even seen such a notification. Besides, one side of a contract cannot renegotiate the conditions of the contract without the approval of the other party. They refused to pay out $16,000 insurance benefits to pay off the remaining mortgage.

I think they are lying, theiving bastards who rip off widows and orphans. Wait...I know they are. I hope they go down in flames. I can no longer say anything positive them and I understand entirely why they changed their name...anonymity from the prior victims and protection from their own poor taste and bad business judgment.

If you have any money with what is now "On Point Credit Union", I would recommend that you find a more reputable financial institution upon which you wish to rely....like maybe Payday Loans?

One other thing -- many credit unions don't pay federal income taxes on most of their income. More money to prop up the CEO's lifestyle...

Well credit unions are not supposed to make a profit, so of course they don't pay income taxes.

Seems like the trend is consolidation and ever-bigger credit unions. I belonged to a small one based in the Hollywood District that served small retailers and Sears employees (never knew how that combination occurred). Three people worked there, they all knew me and transactions were very easily done. Their interest rates were way better than any of the banks. Then several years ago, they merged with a larger credit union. They closed the branch in Hollywood and now my choice is either to go out to the Airport area or go through the metal detector at the BPA building near Lloyd Center. I go to neither, as I switched to Washington Mutual and actually, my service there has been excellent and their rates seem fair.

But I am gonna check into Schwab.

I've been a member of PTCU and OnPoint for 37 years. While I agree that since its takeover, merger, what have you with U-Lane-O and other CUs to become OnPoint, their service has remained fine for me, three of my children and my wife. We have access through my wife's employer to a much smaller and truly restricted-membership credit union. They offer lower interest rates, higher charges for car loans, overdrafts, and the like. OnPoint *could* pay more on their various savings accounts, but the loss of membership hasn't reached the point where this is an issue. Most people don't save squat. We do. We save and invest a large amount of money. Our OnPoint account serves as a conduit for our money to go into ING, HBSC, and Emigrant S&L, as well as our investment accounts with ETrade. You can probably do better with WaMu on a lot of things - especially more ATMs. Rather than move my money from OnPoint and have to rewire my entire online banking life, its just easier to buy stock in WaMU, Capitol One Finance, and those types of financial institutions taking clientele from OnPoint.

OnPoint doesn't have to compete that much any more. Alternative credit unions are *rarely* better (and can be worse), and the commerical banks ultimately have to make shareholders happy.

I agree that their behavior was reprehensible in this case, but we have no idea whether this is isolated or systemic. I'm not too worried one way or the other.

I've been through US Bank, Bank of America, Key Bank, and what was First Interstate (which I referred to as "Forced Intercourse" because of their policies...they are now Wells Fargo, a step down, from what I hear out of California). Three of the four were fine until they started heavily advertising their "customer service", and their customer service went to hell in a handbasket. I've been with WaMu for about four years now...we'll see how long they last.

I was with PTCU for over twenty years, and my really bad experience with them was finally resolved (in my favor) just three months before they morphed into On Point. I have changed over to Advantis and I've been pleasantly surprised. It has been so refreshing after the steady erosion of service, offerings and accessibility, not to mention out-and-out fraud, that I experienced with PTCU.

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