Dec 25 UPDATE:
My Christmas letter response to TD Bank CEO Ed Clark:
December 25, 2014
Group President and
Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Dominion Centre
P.O Box 193
Dear Mr. Clark,
Re: Customer(s) declines TD Bank’s comfortable FATCA experience and cancels bank account
You might remember me as the customer who requested that your bank remove an offensive statement from your website. In the offending sentence TD Bank states a commitment to “ensure” that its US customers in Canada, terrified by having their bank records forcibly turned over by your bank to US IRS, will somehow receive a “comfortable” experience while they are being FATCA’d.
The response to my request, issued jointly from three departments, was surprising: TD Bank is adamant, illogically, that it can actually provide meaningful comfort for its US customers who are being FATCA’d (e.g., customers will listen to Mozart sonata while seated in proprietary TD-green recliner?). Paradoxically the letter also notes that your bank might revise the offensive sentence in future—but why consider revising, as you insist that the statement is accurate, fair, and not offensive?
TD Bank also shifts the blame, unfairly I feel, to the hapless Canadian Bankers Association which never promised on behalf of any Canadian bank–not even TD Bank– a positive FATCA experience to customers. Your bank is the only financial institution in Canada, probably even worldwide, to make the extraordinary claim of comfort provided while a foreign government confiscates a customer’s life’s savings. In this respect, TD Bank’s service may well be, as you say, “legendary.”
I just wanted to let you know that I cancelled my account with TD Bank the day after I received your bank’s unacceptable response. I now have an account with another major Canadian bank that does plan to FATCA me, but will treat me with better respect by not aiming to give a comfortable FATCA experience.
For the future I am considering banking with one of the smaller credit unions that will not provide any FATCA experience whatsoever to its customers.
Mr. Clark, please appreciate that there are one million (plus) US person households in Canada. We all have banking options (so far) and we have long memories. We will never forget those who chose not to treat us fairly and with respect.
I have cc’d this letter to Finance Minister Flaherty and to others and will be hand delivering a copy to my local MP Mr. Bernard Trottier.
[Name disclosed on letter]
Cc: Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
Honourable Bernard Trottier, MP Etobicoke-Lakeshore
Honourable Scott Brison, Finance Critic
[ ] Senior Manager, Customer Experience Strategy
Selected US persons abroad
Dec 20 UPDATE:
I closed my TD Bank account in response to TD Bank’s unacceptable response.
Dec 19 UPDATE:
—THE FINAL RESPONSE FROM TD BANK:
I am writing to you on behalf of the following TD departments: Legal, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, and the Ombudsman’s Office in regards to your request to remove content from our website regarding FATCA.
We, TD Bank, acknowledge that you have made several requests to various TD departments seeking further information in regards to FATCA [??]. While the FATCA guidelines issued by the IRS will apply to all non-U.S. financial institutions around the world, the Canadian government is negotiating a bilateral agreement with the U.S. Once defined, all Canadian banks will be subject to the requirements resulting from this agreement.
The statements on our website accurately reflect the nature in which TD is responding to its legal obligation in order to comply with the Canadian legislation that will implement Canada’s bilateral agreement with the U.S. on FATCA. With regards to your objection about using “comfortable” in our website, we strive to provide a comfortable experience to our customers by ensuring that they always receive accurate and timely information with regards to FATCA [but see Badger’s comments below]. Nonetheless, we will take your feedback into account when we next refresh the FATCA content on our website.
We feel we have addressed your concerns to the best of our ability and we now consider the matter closed. For further correspondence regarding changes impacting the Canadian banking industry, we suggest you contact the Canadian Bankers Association (http://www.cba.ca/en).
[ ….Customer Experience Strategy]
BE LEGENDARY! [text in green]
Every Customer. Every Time. Everyone [text in green].
Dec 18 UPDATE:
—TD Bank Ombudsman sends email stating that it will ensure that I receive a response from the bank.
Dec 12 UPDATE:
—As ten days have passed without any decision by TD Bank to my request for deletion of the offensive sentence on its website, I have forwarded the Dec 2 letter and all email correspondence to the TD Ombudsman for resolution (Step 3).
Dec 7 UPDATE:
—the letter of concern has now been escalated to some unknown component of TD Bank.
Dec 3 UPDATE:
—The complaint has been received by TD Bank.
THE ORIGINAL POSTING:
TD Bank has issued a statement on its website committing the bank to provide customers impacted by FATCA with “support and information” to ensure that they somehow will receive a “comfortable” experience while the bank is helping the US impose this law.
This statement is offensive and the letter below asks TD Bank to delete the statement from its public website and to apologize to its customers:
[SENT BY HARD COPY AND POSTED ONLINE AT ISAACBROCKSOCIETY.CA AND MAPLESANDBOX.CA]
December 2, 2013
Attn: Customer Service
P.O Box 193
Re: Request for deletion of offensive statement on TD Bank website
This is a request that TD Bank delete the second sentence in section #5 of your website: http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/customer-service/overview/fatca.jsp
The sentence reads: “TD is committed to providing impacted customers with support and information to ensure they receive a comfortable experience once the law comes into effect.”
The law referred to in this sentence is the U.S. imposed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in which TD Bank will assist a branch of a foreign government, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in obtaining financial information on its customers in Canada.
I ask that the sentence be deleted firstly, because it is offensive and mean-spirited for your bank to suggest that your “U.S. person” customers in Canada, whose banking information will be turned over forcibly by your bank to the U.S. IRS, might ever consider such an unpleasant experience to be “comfortable.”
This sentence must also be deleted, especially given the deliberate selection of the word “ensure,” because, unless you can provide evidence to the contrary, the statement is misleading—and your bank is not permitted by federal regulation to provide misleading information to the public. In this regard, TD Bank (as would all reasonable people) must admit that it is not possible that the experience of an “impacted” Canadian of having his/her banking information turned over to a foreign government could ever, on logical grounds, be made “comfortable.”
To the extent that the statement implies that TD Bank will provide a positive experience, the sentence is misleading.
Moreover, advocating for a change in banking, privacy, and human rights laws to meet demands of a foreign country is a serious betrayal of your long-time customers who are highly likely to consider alternatives to banking at TD Bank.
I ask that this deletion be made no later than by end of business day December 6, 2013 and at the same time TD Bank issue a statement on the website alerting the public that the change has been made. In addition, an apology must be issued. The apology should include a statement that a description of the “service” of providing a “comfortable” experience to those customers impacted by FATCA was regretfully inappropriately worded.
TD Bank’s “Step One” of resolving problems, prior to escalating the concern to the TD Ombudsman, includes providing the names of TD Bank employees involved in the dispute. The names of these employees include [ ] and [ ] at TD Bank who would not respond directly to my requests (November 26 and 27, 2013) to speak to your bank to resolve FATCA issues raised on your website—instead directing me to contact the Canadian Banking Association (which did not make this offensive statement in your website). Because your employees would not agree to my request for an interview, I have had no choice but to seek assistance from TD Bank Customer Service.
I suggest that you elevate my concern to [ ], as [ ] appears to be the [ ] FATCA point person for TD Bank. Please forward this letter to [his/her] office, as the address of TD’s FATCA point person is not disclosed to the public.
The names of these TD Bank employees are being provided in my letter only to “Customer Service” and are not copied to others.
I also have copied this letter to Finance Minister Flaherty and to his relevant counterparts in the NDP (Murray Rankin, National Revenue critic) and Liberal (Scott Brison, Finance and National Revenue critic) parties, as all three have opinions on your bank’s (unfortunate) involvement in implementation of the U.S. FATCA law.
In addition, this letter will be forwarded to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), responsible for dealing with complaints to federally regulated banks. Please confirm that the following “Public Commitment” statement on the FCAC site: “CBA member banks will provide the information in language, and present it in a manner, that is clear, simple and not misleading” applies to public descriptions of all services provided by TD Bank.
I do appreciate that the offending sentence was most likely drafted by an overzealous individual in your Public Affairs department. Nevertheless, the sentence is patently offensive, misleading from the perspective of an impacted customer who will be terrified by the consequences of your bank’s actions– and TD Bank must correct the error.
If TD Bank does not agree to remove the sentence, please advise immediately and provide explicit confirmation. My contact details are shown below.
[Name and address provided to TD Bank and to all cc’d]
cc: [TD Bank employee]
Honourable Minister James Flaherty
Honourable Scott Brison
Honourable Murray Rankin
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada