Bank Watch

Behind BofA’s decision to bring back Myers Park drive-up lanes

Bank of America initially planned to end drive-through service at this Myers Park branch on June 8. But the Charlotte-based lender said the service will remain open following feedback from customers upset by the plan.
Bank of America initially planned to end drive-through service at this Myers Park branch on June 8. But the Charlotte-based lender said the service will remain open following feedback from customers upset by the plan.

This summer, Bank of America was expected to end drive-through teller service at its Myers Park branch, a move the lender had been making at some of its other branches nationwide.

Two months later, the Myers Park branch lanes are still open – and customers are celebrating getting the second-largest U.S. bank by assets to change its mind.

Since at least 2013, Bank of America has been shutting down some of its drive-through lanes, citing declining use of the service. Those closures have come as more transactions take place on smartphones.

Earlier this year, the bank announced on its website that it was discontinuing drive-through service at its Myers Park branch, on busy Providence Road, on June 8.

Some customers weren’t happy by that news, and they let the bank know it.

One customer, who asked that her name not be published to protect business relationships, told me she expressed her displeasure directly to a Bank of America manager, who came out to her vehicle in the branch’s parking lot to listen to her complaints.

“Look in my backseat,” she told the manager, referring to her three young children. “This is why I don’t want to get out of my car to do banking.

“He said, ‘We’re trying to drive customers to mobile banking.’”

Bank of America would not disclose how many complaints it received before it reversed course on the Myers Park branch. Spokeswoman Betty Riess said the bank listens to its customers and continually adapts and responds based on their needs.

“We know that the drive-up teller service at this location is highly valued by our customers, and we took that into consideration,” she said.

The loss of drive-through service and closures of branches are frequent occurrences these days, as banks adjust to changing customer habits, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Florida-based Bankrate.com.

Some banks are closing branch lobbies and leaving only the drive-through lanes open. Bank of America is doing the opposite in many cases, leaving the lobby but losing the drive-through, says Ken Thomas, a Miami-based bank consultant.

“No other bank of which I am aware has followed this unusual trend,” he told me.

UNC Charlotte finance professor Tony Plath says it’s not surprising that Bank of America responded to the feedback of the Myers Park branch customers.

“I mean, we're talking Myers Park here, which ranks among the most prosperous and desirable banking markets in the region,” Plath said. If the bank hadn’t changed its mind, “there's not exactly a shortage of other banks in that market with big drive-through facilities that are looking for new customers. ...” Plath said.

The Bank of America customer who didn’t want her name used told me she’s pleased the bank listened to its customers. Now, when she goes through the drive-through, she and the tellers celebrate that the service remains open.

“We still kind of high-five each other,” she said.

  Comments