UPDATE: The situation has been resolved to my satisfaction. Al de Molina did follow through with his comment to get the situation fixed (see comment below), and I am impressed that this was taken care of before I even had a chance to drop the letter off in the mail.

I have made an updated post, with information about what happened, and what it means to other customers as well.

UPDATE 2 (2009-01-22): It’s six months later, and I am still satisfied with Ally. I even switched over my savings account to them shortly after that. Moreso, shortly after my ordeal, they added a “Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee”:

When you fund your CD within ten days of opening or renewing your Ally account, you automatically get the best rate we offer during that time period.

I’d like to think I helped put that policy in place, and it really does go beyond what you’d expect from a bank.

This post has been getting a lot of Google juice lately, and I’m sure a lot of people who come here have complaints about Ally for whatever reason. It’s understandable, you’re going to have problems with a company no matter what (I’m not too thrilled with my cable company right now, for example, but that’s another story). Just be sure to be patient and courteous. Remember that this post wasn’t me screaming “ALLY SUCKS!!!!!”; I was polite but direct, and it worked out well for me.

The original post is retained below.

Well, regarding that 2.50% CD I opened? It’s now 2.30%. A phone call got me nowhere; they’re claiming the rate is based on a seemingly random date, related to neither the date I opened (and funded) the account, nor the date the funds cleared. The difference between the rate they quoted me and the rate they gave me is $3.74 over the lifetime of the CD, but I’m not letting them get away with this, especially given their “open” brand. I have sent this letter to GMAC Financial Services / Ally Bank CEO Al de Molina, copied below.

While you are reading, watch this Ally Bank commercial, but with these lines:

“Would you like a 2.50% CD?”

“Yeah.” [Gives her a 2.50% CD.]

“Would you like a 2.50% CD?”

“Yeah.” [Gives her a 2.30% CD.]

“You didn’t say I would get a lower APY.”

“Well you didn’t ask.”

Al de Molina
Chief Executive Officer
GMAC Financial Services
P.O. Box 951
Horsham, PA 19044</p>

June 6, 2009

Mr. de Molina,

I am writing to express my disappointment regarding my experience after setting up an Ally Bank CD, account number 1234567890, and to ask for your assistance in correcting this bad experience.

On Thursday morning, June 4, 2009, I signed up for an Ally 9 month no penalty CD, at a 2.50% rate. I was impressed by Ally's site, your no-nonsense approach, and the impressive rates offered. The account sign-up process – during which time I created a new account and funded a $2,500 CD – was easy, and consistent with your business persona. There was no small print, and everything was explained up-front. I finished the process, and was given a PDF with the following table:

Name Account Number Term Rate Maturity Opening Deposit Deposit Method
No Penalty CD 1234567890 9 months 2.47% 03/04/2010 $ 2,500.00 Online

I understand that 2.47% is the nominal rate of a 2.50% APY CD. The account management site listed both nominal and APY rates when I logged in immediately after creating the account.

Today, I checked the Ally self-service site to see if my funds had cleared. The funds were available according to the site, but the account listed a 2.2740% (2.30% APY) rate. I called customer service to inquire about this discrepancy, and was told that the rate was 2.30% when my account was funded on Friday. I replied that my account was set up and funded in one step on Thursday, but she said there was nothing she could do, and asked if I wanted to speak to a supervisor, which I agreed to.

The supervisor, Jason, explained that Ally's rates were lowered on Friday, which is when they began to process my transfer. He made note, several times, that my transfer has not even cleared yet, but they were nice enough to make a “good faith” deposit on Friday, at Friday's rates, as opposed to when the deposit cleared. I asked why the “good faith” deposit could not have been made on the day I signed up for and funded the account, with the APY that was advertised to me and on the documentation I received. We went around in circles until he flat out said there was “nothing [he] could do”. I thanked him for his time and hung up.

Doing the math, I understand the difference between the rate that was advertised to me and the rate my account now lists is minor. However, as your own marketing points out, you have raised the bar for customer service in the banking industry. I have since learned that the reason Ally's rates were lowered on Friday was a direct result of GMAC Financial Services bowing to the pressure of the American Bankers Association's accusations of inflated interest rates as a result of Federal TARP funds.

In your response to the ABA, dated June 1, you said:

“The public is well aware of Ally Bank’s brand promise. Ally Bank is committed to providing banking products and services to small businesses and individuals on a competitive and fair basis. In being straightforward with our customers, we intend to provide clarity to the public regarding self-serving practices of some banks.”

I would make the point that excellent customer service is important, especially to a bank with a new brand, a brand that was created due to a loss of public faith. But you have already made the case. You have distilled the Ally brand into a bank of truth and trust. “The Ally Story” says:

“We’re a bank that values integrity as much as deposits. A bank that will always be open, accountable, and honest. Yes, honest. We won’t deal in half-truths, kindatruths, or truths only buried in fine print. That’s because we don’t have anything to hide. We’re always going to give it to you straight.”

I would say that changing the fixed interest rate on a customer, based on a technicality, is a “half-truth, kindatruth, or truth only buried in fine print”, except the fine print was never disclosed. Perhaps there is a reason fine print exists in this society.

Please, do the right thing. A gas station owner would not run out and change the prices on the boards while you are filling up, and then claim that your rate was based on the rate when you finished. A bank should not operate that way either.


Ryan Finnie