Q&A: Service at online banks

Dear Liz: You recently wrote about online banks versus brick and mortar, but you missed one point in favor of local banks. If there is a major screw-up, you can go there and talk with a person. That’s better than being stuck in an endless phone loop or with an unhelpful “bot” online. And being face to face (pleasantly) is more likely to get help and sympathy.

Answer: Banks vary enormously in the quality of their service. Some online banks pride themselves on quickly connecting their customers to well-trained human representatives around the clock. Meanwhile, some local banks have indifferent staff and inconvenient hours.

But we can agree that chatbots — computer programs that purport to answer common customer questions — often provide a truly awful user experience. Any bank that refuses to connect you to a human being on request is a bank to be avoided.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t make these big life insurance blunders. Also in the news: Bail on your big bank for better savings returns, Macy’s Black Friday ad, and a new banking scam to watch out for.

Don’t Make These Big Life Insurance Blunders
Common mistakes financial planners see.

For Better Savings Returns, Bail on Your Big Bank
Look small and local.

Macy’s Black Friday 2018 Ad, Deals and Store Hours
Department store deals.

Watch Out for This New Banking Scam
This one comes via text.