SPENCER, WI—Contrary to claims made on the financial institution's complimentary pens, key chains and insulated can coolers, local resident George Pilarcik may not actually make the difference at Spencer State Bank, it was reported Monday.
"It said right on the free calendar, 'At Spencer State Bank, You Make The Difference!'" said Pilarcik, a 46-year-old forklift operator. "But recently, I've begun to suspect that I'm just one of almost 4,200 accountholders, and that without me, the bank would pretty much be the same."
Pilarcik said he began to question his difference-making status last Wednesday, when he received a letter from the bank informing him of a new monthly service fee for use of a checking-account ATM card.
"They promised me their special 'No Fee Guarantee,' but then they went ahead and added a $4 charge anyway," Pilarcik said. "That's when it hit me: If I truly am the one thing that distinguishes Spencer State Bank from other, inferior financial institutions, would they risk alienating me just to make an extra $4 a month?"
"For years, I believed them when they told me that Spencer was my community, and that Spencer State Bank was my bank," Pilarcik added. "But now I'm not so sure."
Spencer State Bank, which claims to offer a full range of banking services created especially with Pilarcik in mind, maintains that he is priority-one.
"If George Pilarcik isn't satisfied, we haven't done our job," said bank president Lew Hollas, responding to the charges. "Because at Spencer State Bank, we're looking out for George Pilarcik's future."
Despite Hollas' statement to the contrary, Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection officials said much evidence exists supporting the claim that Pilarcik does not make the difference at the bank.
"With assets in excess of $16 million and cash reserves of nearly $700,000, Spencer State Bank is hardly dependent upon the combined $2,875.76 in Mr. Pilarcik's checking and savings accounts," Consumer Protection spokesperson Roderick Alvaro said. "Considering the fact that Pilarcik's funds represent less than .017 percent of the bank's total assets, one would be hard-pressed to argue that he makes any difference at all, much less the difference."
Though he did not file a formal complaint until last week, Pilarcik said he first suspected that he may not make the difference in November 1997, when he spent three weeks in nearby Plovis caring for his sick mother. Upon returning, instead of finding that the bank had closed in his absence, he found that everything had been business as usual.
"I walked into the bank after being gone nearly a month, and the place was in full swing," Pilarcik said. "They told me, 'At Spencer State Bank We're Working For You.' But then who were they working for all those weeks I was away?"
"Every time I come in to deposit my paycheck," Pilarcik continued, "the tellers give me friendly service with a smile, call me by my name, and just generally make me feel like a valued customer. But lately, I've really started to wonder if they truly care about how I'm doing, if they truly want to know what I think of this crazy weather we've been having. I hope to God I'm wrong, but I fear they're only asking as part of some elaborate plan that serves their own interests."