SAN JOSE, Calif.-Ratings for $1.6-billion Technology Credit Union on popular ratings site Yelp.com have turned more negative since the CU proposed a charter conversion to a mutual savings bank.
While user reviews on such sites are far from a scientific sampling due to their open nature, from 2006 to 2010 Tech CU generally drew four stars or five stars out of five, and comments typically were overwhelmingly positive. On Oct. 12, 2006, for instance, Maxx L wrote, "I can echo the original reviewer of TechCU-they are absolutely the BEST bank I've ever been with. I've been with them for about 7 years now, and I've never regretted it."
More recently, however, reviews have been in the one- or two-star range, with several people commenting on the possibility of Tech CU becoming a bank. These poor ratings have dragged down Tech CU's average rating to three stars on 31 reviews. It is not known how many of the comments were posted by opponents of the conversion plan.
A sampling of the comments:
* M.Y. of Concord, Calif., July 7: "I have pretty much given up on this credit union. Years ago, it was excellent but now it just behaves like a commercial bank and is on the verge of changing its charter to become one (no surprise there). Will probably close my account when this comes to pass."
'Hawks' Take Over
* Girolamo P, San Jose, Calif., Aug. 26: "This Credit Union was great until a number of years ago. Then, somehow, a few corporate "hawks" took over it, with a plan to convert it into a bank and suck it dry of its net assets (about 160M$ accumulated over 50+ years of existence). With this in view, they brought in their friends from other banks in the area, and worked their way (with the blessing of the "convinced" Board of Directors) up to these days when they decided their moment has come: the juggernaut!
"There are a good number of members who don't want this to happen, but the management-using stalling techniques-managed to deny their legal right to communicate with other members: the Tech CU management and Board don't want its members to take an informed decision when they vote."
* S.B., San Jose, Calif., Aug. 22: "I'm pretty frustrated with TCU right now. Normally, I would have given them 5 stars in the past. We've had car loans, a heloc and refinanced our mortgage with them. We could have gotten a better rate somewhere else but we wanted to stay there because we LIKED them.
"Then this whole idea about converting to a savings bank starts up. 3 mailings and phone calls being told that the "board of Directors strongly urge us to vote yes?" I poured over the mailings they sent and dug into the booklet titled "Notice of a Proposal to Covert to a Federally Chartered Scum Sucking, Rip Off, We Answer to Big Money Bank." Harsh? Read it. Start with the cost estimate of $1,535,000. I'm assuming that most of that has been spent already between the lawyers and lobbying expenses. Who's money is that? Aren't Credit Unions Non-Profit?"
* Rob J., San Jose, Calif., Aug. 17: "The Board of Directors of Tech CU should be impeached. As members, we are owners of the credit union. The Board is using OUR money to fund an initiative to become another bank. If I had wanted to be with a bank, I would have put my money there. The ONLY beneficiaries of a conversion from a credit union to a bank is the Board and its management. Not only will I be voting against this initiative, but I will be voting to impeach the board of directors as well. These greedy individuals should be ashamed of themselves for their greed and should all be impeached for trying to profit from their members."
Four Stars, But...
Even a recent review that awarded Tech CU four stars had a caveat regarding the proposed conversion. On Aug. 26 Jing F of Mountain View, Calif., began on a positive note before expressing a fear: "I am not a credit union member here. I just do other type of transactions to this credit union. They are efficient and service is always good. Very convenient to get to close to the freeway. I just hope they will remain a credit union..last time I was here they have some kind of voting thing going on and it is in regard to making this credit union to a mutual savings bank. Ooh I just hope they don't go that way (becoming a mutual savings bank)...coz In the 1980s, most mutual savings banks were forced to merge or go through a process called demutualization, converting to commercial banks with shareholders."