Mediocre At Best, Better Options Available In Town
I love small town banks! More personal, more forgiving, more in tune with their customers. 'Small town bank' doesn't have to mean smaller capability to be efficient and provide great service, but sometimes small banks lose sight of why customers value them in an effort to be like big brother. Unfortunately First Farmers and Merchants Bank (FFM) of Le Sueur is one of these. There are three options for banking in town including Corner State Bank and HomeTown Bank, both on Main Street. I've had brief business dealings with each of these on occasion and haven't had reason to complain. I've been a customer of FFM for approximately five years now and have seen both fair and horrible service. Here's the skinny:
- Customer service. A bit on the emotionless side. If you get a smile from a teller, it's a rare day. If you don't, it's every other day. Transactions are cold and impersonal, almost hesitant. You get the feeling you're there to serve them, not the other way around. That's unacceptable.
- Speed. You're going to wait. Even if no one is in front of you, you're waiting. I've dealt with over a dozen banks in my lifetime, both personal and business and FFM comes in dead last in speedy transactions. No one is in a hurry to get you taken care of, either at the teller desk or in the back office. Deposits can take days and transactions aren't allowed if the bank is closed, meaning if it's Saturday afternoon, you're stuck until Monday after 8:30 when someone gets to task.
- Knowledge. If you have a question, you're speaking with 2 to 4 people. Everyone has some knowledge, no one seems to know what's under the other person's hat. If anyone is gone, they have to get back to you. Never has a service been suggested to me. Sometimes a little sales help is welcome. I have no idea what they offer.
- Technology. For me this is most painful. The website is clumsy and your transaction history is limited. You'll have to fiddle with the menus every visit to see basics. They recently instituted mobile banking and check scanning, but every time I want to scan in a check, it's ten minutes of repositioning to get it to take, not to mention a 2-3 day wait for the check to be deposited.
- Convenience. 1 out of every 8 times I visit the ATM, it's not functioning. Feel free to drive a half hour to the nearest no fee location. They have partner ATM's through MoneyPass, though I've been charged a small fee for using those at times; it's unclear when I will or won't be charged. Hours are strict and limited. Don't think you can arrive one minute late.
- Security. I'm concerned about website security as many other banks have stronger encryption. There have been many times my authorative voice alone (over the phone) has granted me access to my account when it shouldn't have without basic verification. That's scary.
- Ethics. Yes I know we're talking about a bank. So when do these actually show? Generally during things such as overdrafts, poorly timed morning deposits and withdrawals and handling of interest. I have many friends and associates in town and it's known that FFM is unforgiving when it comes to small errors, even if you're a valued, long-term customer. I won't say it's as bad a banking with TCF, but their tight-fisted handling will become evident if you ever miscalculate your account. One strike, you're out.
- Loans. Unfortunately I have little experience here. Securing a loan was never a consideration as it doesn't seem to be a primary function of theirs. When I applied for my home loan, I felt FFM wasn't equipped to give me a reasonable rate and when I have struggled to view other rates, I haven’t been impressed.
I realize this has been a tough review and I wish I had better news for you. If you look, you can see my other reviews are fair and often positive, but First Farmers and Merchants Bank of Le Sueur is a downward slope of constant disappointment. Hopefully they'll see this and institute change for their customers. Or maybe they'll close my account promptly and kick me in the rear. Fingers crossed.