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9.27.2010

phyllis just wants her ipod touch

I rather enjoyed this Los Angeles Times story on Phyllis Chiu, who recently opened a new checking account with Bank of the West to take advantage of their free iPod Touch promotion. But things did not quite turn out like she expected: Bank of the West changes tune on iPod promotion.

In July, Bank of the West announced that it would give away an iPod Touch to all new customers who opened checking accounts with a minimum deposit of $100. Phyllis thought this was a pretty good offer, but when she tried to open an account, getting that iPod wasn't so easy:
Chiu heard about the offer from a friend who was a Bank of the West customer. Since the bank offered a $50 bonus to any customer who referred someone new to the company, Chiu was glad to be able to do her friend a good turn while also getting an iPod.

But when she went to the bank's website to establish her new checking account, she couldn't find any place to include the referral form for her friend's bonus. So she went to a Glendale branch Aug. 14 to open the account in person.

Here's where things start getting hinky.

Chiu said she was told by a bank worker, Barbara Wright, that to qualify for the free iPod, she'd not only have to meet the criteria in the ad but also open up a savings account along with a checking account.

"I said that's not in the offer," Chiu recalled. "She said, 'Well, that's how we do it at this branch.' "

Chiu said she then took it up with branch manager Simon Markarian, who also refused to let her qualify for an iPod without opening both a checking and a savings account.

"You should just go to the Apple store and buy an iPod," Chiu quoted the manager as saying. "You don't want a relationship with our bank. You only want an iPod. A checking account is not a relationship with our bank."
Hey! Just give Phyllis her iPod Touch like you promised! Funny, once the Times got involved, Bank of the West was suddently very cooperative. Phyllis has since received a call with an apology from a bank executive. The article also has some tips for consumers on how not to get burned on promotions like this. Beware!