Bank Saves Pennies But Loses Millions

If you’ve ever seen the film Pretty Woman, you'll likely remember when Julia Roberts’ character, dressed as a prostitute, tried to buy clothing on Rodeo Drive, only to be snubbed by an uppity saleswoman. In the words of her character, “Big mistake. Huge!” A bank in Spokane, Wash., learned that same lesson, and it cost them millions. In 1988, 59-year-old John Barrier walked into Old National Bank (now U.S. Bank), where he had done business for 30 years. Barrier, who worked in construction, came straight from a job site in his work clothes to cash a check. After cashing the check, he asked the teller to validate his 60¢ parking ticket. The teller refused, saying check cashing was not considered a valid transaction. Barrier asked the teller to call the manager of the bank, and the manager refused to validate the ticket as well. Barrier, who had made a small fortune buying and renovating old buildings, was outraged. He immediately withdrew all of his money from the bank — reportedly $2 million — and took it down the street to Old National Bank's competitor, Seafirst Bank. It was clearly a two-fold lesson — (1) it's important to value each and every customer, and (2) you can't judge a book by its cover.