Switching to Local

Open Letter to Santa Barbara Bank and Trust:

On March 5, 2012, we received your letter “Important Changes to the Terms and Conditions of your Account(s) and to our Schedule of Fees & Charges.” We were appreciative of the prompt notification allowing for a reasonable amount of time prior to the impending changes. Being a member/customer of SBB&T for roughly eight years has been important to our family as we made the conscious decision to not do business with much larger and impersonal institutions such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America. One of the primary reasons for this decision was based upon our belief that large, multinational corporations are not justified in “nickel and diming” hard-working citizens like ourselves with petty charges and exorbitant fees for the right to access our own hard-earned money. And in light of the recent debacle in the financial industry, caused by the financial industry, that taxpayers ultimately have to bear the burden of repaying, our opinion remains as fervent as ever.

Almost by accident, we subsequently learned that this letter was inadvertently mailed to all SBB&T customers, and only applied to “new” customers who would not be “grandfathered” in to the existing policy. While this may have eased our concerns about the letter, it nonetheless signaled a possible shift in the priorities and protocol of SBB&T. This was later confirmed with the announcement that UnionBanCal Corporation purchased SBB&T’s parent company, Pacific Capital Bancorp. There was no announcement made to SBB&T members about the sale until after it was done, and this community had to learn about it through the media and not from SBB&T. This lack of honest and forthright communication was troubling and did not go unnoticed. Furthermore, the goal of investing our money in our community through a locally owned and operated bank has now been irrevocably erased.

Given these recent events, our family decided to discontinue our account with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. Perhaps the fact that SBB&T is no longer a locally owned bank, but a part of the community in name only? Or perhaps SBB&T thinks it is justified charging people a fee to use their own money? Or maybe SBB&T no longer cares for the “average person” who, in these challenging economic times, cannot afford to be used as a means to maintain or increase corporate profit margins? Whatever the case may be, we will not sit silently while SBB&T uses our meager income against us. We will not allow our finances to be used to pad corporate profits of a bank that has no connection or commitment to our community.

Although we have, for the most part, enjoyed our relationship with SBB&T, the convenience of some of your locations and your prompt customer service, we have closed our account and opened an one at a locally owned and operated bank that does not charge its customers to use their own money, but works with individuals and families in this community for the common good through local investment and non-profit support.

Thank you for you time in reading this letter and for the years of a relatively good business relationship. As the saying goes, good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster! We will be sharing our thoughts and opinions with our family and friends in Santa Barbara, a place we have called home for over 20 years, and encourage them to also reconsider their relationship with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust as we have.

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