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My family had State Farm Auto Insurance through the same broker for more than 30 years. I continued that tradition, dealing with the same office to insure my first car. The rates were a little higher than other companies, but that was ok, because I still had personal service. Then, in 2004, State Farm announced that it was leaving New Jersey, and I was advised that my account would be terminated, effective in 90 days. They cited changes that were being made in Jersey's insurance laws, and apologized for any inconvenience. The end of the story is, State Farm never left my state, but was using this as a way to drop those who only had auto insurance with them, rather than multiple products like home owner's and life insurance. I found myself a cheaper insurance company with better coverage, and they lost themselves a customer for life.
Years ago, I opened a checking and savings account with a local, smaller bank around the corner from my house. Everything was was fantastic for about 2 years, until the place was purchased by Bank of America. The bank took on a cold, corporate feel, and seemed to be run more by the corporate computer than by the local management and tellers. Professional, distanced customer service I can deal with; the part that got me was the fees. My first (and only) overdraft, 3 years into banking with them, was due to an honest mistake. Most banks will forgive you one overdraft, but the exorbitant $35 fee stuck. Then, the once-free checking started costing me $12.00 a month, and they instituted a $2.00 per transaction for pulling money out of another bank's ATM. I can't say that there was a single event that lead me to close my accounts with Bank of America. Honestly, it was the feeling of being nicked and dimed to death for the privilege of accessing my own money, and, in a competitive banking market, there's just no excuse for that.
USAA is by far the most convenient, best banking experience I've every had. They process transactions quickly, and have a wonderful customer service team that genuinely cares, especially when you're going through something as chaotic as a divorce. Even though their branches are all located out of state, the options available for quick, convenient deposit are amazing! They have the standard smartphone app, which lets you deposit your check by taking a digital image, eliminating the need to mail it to them. More impressive, though, is Easy Deposit at the UPS store. Should your phone be dead, or out of cell tower range, you bring your check into one of 19,000 locations all over the country, swipe your debit card, and hand over your check to be scanned. The money is available with very little delay, and you get the original document back for your records. If you ever need to transfer money to or from other accounts, the bank allows you to link multiple external accounts to your USAA checking/saving account, and doesn't charge a fee to send or receive money. Great, no fee checking account, awesome service, and convenient banking. What more can I say?
I banked with Affinity Credit Union while I was in college, and for a few years after. Their rates are above average, and their customer service was always professional and courteous. While I had direct deposit, they were probably one of the better banks to work with, but then I found a job that only offered pay via paper checks, and had to find myself a new bank. While Affinity has a decent number of branches spread over North Jersey, the location closest to me is only open from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm on weekdays, with no hours at all on weekends. It just wasn't possible to get to the bank with my work schedule, and the other branches were more than twenty minutes away, which meant that the Credit Union just was no longer a logical choice. Now this was a number of years ago, and additional deposit features have become available as technology progressed, but I would still say that, unless you live somewhere in Morris or Essex counties, and want occasional access to a local bank, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
I have been a member with USAA for more than 10 years now. In NJ, their rates are simply unbeatable, and their customer service is top notch! My boyfriend got into a car accident last winter on the way to work. It was in the middle of an ice storm, and someone tried to cut him off at 50 mph. Hitting the breaks caused the car to slip, and he had a choice of smacking into a guard rail, or hitting the car in front of him. My boyfriend chose the guard rail, and the idiot who cut him off also ended up careening into another structure a quarter mile up the road. While the other guy was clearly in the wrong, the state law in NJ made this into a "no fault" situation, leaving us in the hands of our insurance company. The repair process was seamless: reporting the incident took only a matter of minutes on the website, and a claims adjuster contacted me within the hour to confirm the details. The body shop we used interfaced directly with USAA, so the estimate was generated withing 24 hours (all OEM or CAPA parts), and the repairs completed within a week. Looking at the car, you'd never know it had body work. The best part here is USAA's "accident forgiveness" policy. Since I hadn't had a claim on my account prior to this incident, my deductible didn't go up a penny.