What does the Capital One acquisition mean for ING Direct?
June 26th, 2011 - 127 Comments
I’ve always pledged to be brutally honest with you about the best and worst companies out there.
Very few people in the personal finance space will name specific names about companies. Some of them are worried about closing the door on a sponsorship deal. Some simply don’t want to be “mean.”
I’ve always found that being ULTRA-SPECIFIC — more than anyone else — shows people you really know what you’re talking about.
So after news came out about Capital One acquiring ING Direct, I got approximately 830 million emails like this:
“Any thoughts on ING getting bought by Capital One? Me & my 2 friends who use IWT book are concerned. (EOM)”
“Now with ING being purchased by Capital One Bank do you think this will change your thoughts?”
“What do you make of Capital One buying out ING Direct?? I’ve been with ING for a number of years and pretty happy with the system, liked it better with higher interest rates, but whadya do?”
…I’ve decided to talk about what the Capital One acquisition will mean for ING Direct. As you know, when I recommended my favorite savings account, checking account, and credit card, I named ING Direct as the savings account that I love and use.
My thoughts on the Capital One acquisition of ING Direct
There are companies that are pure pieces of shit.
Companies that I go out of my way to avoid, and warn everyone else about.
Capital One is one of those companies.
It’s an example of the worst type of financial company that exists to completely screw over their customers with outrageous fees, deceptive benefits, and absurd teaser rates.
For example, here’s a picture I snapped on BART a while back.
3X the average rate!! Wow!!
Oh, wait…you need a minimum balance of $10,000, which is literally written in fine print. Hey Capital One: When you compare the promise of the headline — which screams “EARN 3X MORE ON YOUR SAVINGS” – with the actual account requirements, your customers feel cheated and hate you even more than they already do.
Would a company like Amazon ever do this? Zappos? Nordstrom?
I also get thousands and thousands of emails every month, and you wouldn’t believe how many people complain about the terrible behavior of Capital One.
Reader Kelly described her experiences with Capital One:
“Multiple horrible customer service experiences with Cap One, plus some really shady/fraudulent credit reporting muck-ups on their end. Not impressed, burned a few times, and now wary.”
In fact, in a recent interview with CreditCards.com, where I named my favorite/least favorite accounts, here’s what I said:
“Capital One: I would never use their cards. I hear horror story after horror story from my readers about them.”
It doesn’t help that when the New York Times asked Capital One if they were going to ruin ING accounts, the Capital One rep responded with the most robotic, automoton-like responses I’ve ever heard:
Q. Are you planning any new fees or minimum balance requirements?
ING Direct has built a large and valuable franchise of engaged customers by focusing on a few simple proconsumer products. We deeply understand the value of the loyalty and advocacy ING Direct has been able to build with its customers. Everything we do as we integrate our businesses will be thoughtful and surefooted with a focus on sustaining and building that customer loyalty. We will focus on the customers, channels, products, and pricing strategies that build the best long-term customer relationships and deliver the best cost of funds.
[RAMIT'S TRANSLATION: "WE WILL FUCK U SOON"]
Are you serious? THAT is the best response that Capital One — an enormous company that everyone fears will turn friendly ING into a mega-bank that screws customers over — can come up with? I could have crafted a better response while juggling on a tightrope over Niagara Falls.
What the Capital One acquisition means for ING Direct
I can understand the concern. Thousands and thousands of readers have opened ING Direct accounts because of my recommendation in my book, blog, and emails. So now that a terrible company bought ING Direct, what should you do?
THE ANSWER IS CALM THE FUCK DOWN YOU WEIRDOS.
What the hell is wrong with you??
Do you seriously think a company — even the demonic Capital One — is going to immediately change ING accounts into a fee-heavy, terrible-customer-service-having, fine-print-obscuring monstrosity of an account?
Of course not. They JUST acquired ING Direct. They are not going to drastically change your account in like 2 minutes.
I understand the hatred of Capital One, but the irrational fear of this acquisition is getting out of control. People have ALREADY canceled their ING account anticipating the horrible changes that are coming. Would you really want to be friends with these people? “OMG…it’s cloudy outside. MOVE OUT OF THE WAY! I HAVE TO GO TO WALMART TO BUY GUNS AND WATER…IT MIGHT BE A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST!!”
Talk about jumping the gun.
Here is what I anticipate will happen over the long term.
- Nothing will change for a while
- Then Capital One, like a racist uncle, will not be able to help itself from revealing its true colors. It will make subtle changes to ING accounts to make it more profitable for them…and shittier for customers (timeline: unknown. My guess is around a year for the first changes, but who knows.)
- It won’t be “so bad” for a while, especially since we’ve invested so much time in automating transfers to our sub-savings accounts
- Eventually, people will start to realize ING has become “just another” bank, and there are better options
- After I get fed up, I will browse to ingdirect.capitalone.com and vomit all over my computer just to spite them. Then I will switch to another bank, test it, and write a damning post, causing thousands of people to switch accounts within 24 hours
- We will pick another bank and life will go on
HOWEVER. NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING YET. So stop being weirdos and anticipating the end of the world before it ever comes. You have MUCH bigger things to focus on than what “might” happen with your bank account. Have you negotiated? Automated? Earned more? Taken the 30-day challenge to save $1,000? Focus on what’s in front of you, not what might happen some day, possibly, somehow.
Seriously, I hate you all.
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