Washington Federal responds to ‘bumpy’ start

November 29, 2013 • Local News

Washington Federal Bank officials continue to work on smoothing out a transition for former Bank of America customers after acquiring the branch on Fifth and Main streets, said a senior marking representative in Seattle this week.

But bigger changes may be in store. Bank officials may be considering closing the branch or merging it with a nearby location.

Kathy Cooper, senior vice president of marketing communications for Washington Federal Bank, declined to say whether Washington Federal plans to maintain its branch at the complex.

Washington Federal has another branch at 300 N. Pennsylvania Ave., just a few blocks away.

“It’s pretty obvious these two branches are pretty close together,” Cooper said.

If the bank chooses to consolidate, it would do so [auth] “carefully,” she said.

“We haven’t announced anything,” Cooper said. “We wouldn’t want to, until things settle down.”

The new Washington Federal Bank location, formerly a Bank of America branch, opened Nov. 1 as part of Washington Federal’s acquisition of 51 Bank of America branches in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and New Mexico.

The bank recently assumed a five-year lease at Sunwest Centre Office Complex from Bank of America, the center’s manager said this week.

Washington Federal removed Bank of America signs at the top of the tower but hasn’t replaced any permanent signs on the building.

Former longtime Bank of America customers had their accounts automatically transferred over during the recent transaction.

Some Roswell customers complained of difficulties getting temporary checks, using debit cards and accessing their accounts during the transition.

Bank of America closed at noon and handed over the keys to the branch at midnight, Cooper said. Washington Mutual opened the next day.

“It was not an easy situation for us. It was a pretty abrupt switch,” Cooper said. “It can be pretty difficult to deal with.”

She said the bank realizes the transition can be a bit bumpy and it didn’t go smoothly.

“I’m disappointed people are upset,” Cooper said. “We don’t want people to be upset. We did as much as we could think of to try to prepare people for it.”

Washington Federal sent out packets to the new customers prior to opening day, Cooper said. Unfortunately, some customers were difficult to reach, she said.

“Not everybody’s addresses were up to date,” Cooper said. “We had difficulty reaching people. We’ll do everything we can to smooth it out for people.”

Anyone who still had lingering problems can call Washington Federal’s Client Care line at 1-800-324-9374. Customers can also visit any other Washington Federal branch in Roswell for assistance.

Washington Federal client care workers can help customers figure out any problems with accounts, Cooper said.

“We want to make sure people are happy and satisfied,” Cooper said.

Washington Federal has seen a decline of some 3.7 percent in customer balances at the 11 branches the bank acquired in New Mexico from Bank of America.

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2 Responses to Washington Federal responds to ‘bumpy’ start

  1. weed53 says:

    Once again you have confused Washington Federal and Washington Mutual. Those of us who lost a bundle with the Washington Mutual fiasco a few years back cringe at the name and it is apparent that you have yet to make a distinction between the two as this is the second time you have confused one with the other.

  2. jmclaughlin says:

    Washington Federal is the bank involved in this deal. Weed53… yes, there is one error here when I mistakenly identified the incorrect bank. It is indeed Washington Federal that has acquired the Bank of America at 5th and Main streets. -JAM

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