Canadian Dopers: What's your opinion of RBC?

I’ve just started working for a subsidiary under Royal Bank of Canada. I’m hearing that RBC is the largest financial institution in Canada, with over 13 million clients. Is this a good thing, or is it like our Bank of America situation down here - where the bank is so big that the little things get lost, things like customer service and responsible employees. Horror stories abound of BoA shoddy practices and crappy service, with the bottom line being the only consideration.
How does RBC measure up?

I don’t know whether RBC is all good or not, but here’s a little anecdote.

About five years ago, I was looking to open a new chequing account. I went to Scotiabank and RBC branches in the Square One area, Mississauga. Scotiabank wanted me to make an appointment to apply and maybe they’d have time to take my application next week. RBC could set me up in about half an hour.

Guess which one I went with.

RBC has been okay with me. They’ve never done me wrong.

The thing is, I was reading in McClean’s magazine (I think it was mcClean’s, it was a couple years ago, so I’m not sure) that RBC uses some kind of tiered customer service. Phone the bank… Got $100,000 in your account? You’ll get a very professional and knowledgeable customer service rep who will help you out with great efficiency. Got only $400 in your account? You’ll get the college drop-out who is just one small step up from a generic telemarketer and chances are something will get messed up during your call.

I have a co-worker who won’t do business with RBC for that reason.

I’ve never had a problem myself, though. I was a bit surprised though because I piad off my student loan with them, so I figured I had good street cred with them. But they turned me down for a line of credit, because I had such a good credit history, the few credit card companies I use had upped my limits too high (I rarely ever use the cards and have no outstanding debts). Even though I have a great credit history, in theory, I could lose my mind, go on a bender and rack up a debt that exceeded 50% of my income, and RBC didn’t like that. Fair enough.

I went to my home bank (not RBC). I’ve been banking with them since my sister and I opened accounts with our piggy banks after running a lemonade stand for a weekend when I was 7. They gave me a suitable line of credit with only a cursory credit check because I have such a good history with the bank. Rather than just look at the numbers, they evaluated my “big picture” rapport with the bank. That made a huge difference to me. They saw I was responsible with my saving/spending/debts and determined that I was not a big risk. That was good customer service and felt much more personal.

I don’t fault RBC, they were quite reasonable. But I certainly feel more “at home” with my other bank.

Canada has five major banks: RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia) BMO (Bank of Montreal) CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) and TD/Canada Trust, which is a merger of Toronto Dominion and Canada Trust.

In addition, they have smaller, more agile competitors, such as National Bank, Laurentian, credit unions, Canadian Western, and now some foreign competition like HSBC, Bank of America, etc.

Truth is that the five big boys are mostly the same. RBC may be the biggest but they’re not big enough to dictate the market; the other four biggies have large market shares and compete very closely. People will trade horror and happy stories about the big banks but on average you’ll get more or less the same thing from any of them.

My best friend lives in California, having moved there from Canada in 1999, and has had to deal with Bank of America, and it is certainly his impression that bank service in the USA is vasty inferior to Canada. BoA drives him insane, so he tried Wells Fargo and apparently they were even worse. He was, and remains, flabbergasted at how awful the service is there. I really don’t understand why that would be - overall, U.S. customer service in most industries isn’t any worse - but it does seem to be true for banks.

Wonderful. Thanks for the replies.