Simple Closure. Ode to a awesome bank.

The last words from Simple Banking, seen for a second before being taken over by BBVA Login.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Simple is gone and it hurts my soul.
Simple was a bank. At simple.com you could request a debit card and transfer money into a account.

Simple had a clean website that helped you budget, along with “goals”

Support was accessible though phone or chat within the app. You could send a message and a representative would reply.

You could upload checks quickly by taking a photo. Your debit card worked at any ATM and if it was in the Allpoint network any ATM fees were waived.

The people working there had soul. There was a big difference between calling simple and having to call “that other bank”
Sometimes the reps would close support tickets with gifs.

When you called the phone was answered quickly. At the start it was almost like calling a old friend, who answered in a few rings.

It was a bank but it was more.
Simple gained that rare connection with its customers that other companies try so hard to artificalize.

Simple offered accounts through Bancorp
And handled all customers problems via phone and chat. At the start Simple was invite only with accept requirements remain secret.

Once accepted people would not have access to checks.
sending a check through bill pay, which took on average 5 days to clear.

The first inkling of something changing was the IVR prompt. Simple had grown large enough that they now needed a IVR to handle calls. No one saw this as a problem and indeed it wasn’t one. Simple was a startup whos wings were expanding and the number of people calling in blew past the ability to just answer the phone.

Though their charm never wavered, something inside simple was changing.
In 2014 simple was down for almost a week. Transactions would either clear or not and support wasn’t available.
During this some simple was updating their application and website.
It had been a rocky road but now there was a fresh new ui for everyone to use and support was now available in a chat interface.

Checks were available. The blog was updated. Cheer was in the air for the simple team and the welcome emails announcing the end of interruptions seemed to be built by a team who was genuinely glad with that chapter.

Then for the most part things went smoothly. The new website was fantastic (after it quit breaking) simple hired new support agents and announced referral gifts for their customers. You could have a leather wallet branded with Simple or even a pair of socks. Yes your bank would send you socks, and simple mistook the amount of people who would want to wear their name.

Their stocks dried up, their socks were worn and new accounts were opened. Simple had reached what seemed to the average customer a golden standard.

You could spend hours waiting on hold listening to infuriating music while the same nasally voice intoned “you call is very important please hold”.. or you could message simple. The choice was clear. When you did need to call your music was low and melancholy, a pleasure to listen to and perhaps a harbinger of the year to come
October 8 2018

“Simple’s customer experience is unmatched in the digital banking world,” said BBVA Chairman & CEO Francisco González. “Simple will reinforce our global digital transformation while BBVA will provide the means to help Simple maximize its outstanding growth potential.”

And so BBVA acquired simple. When this happened accounts were changed and suddenly things were more complicated. Each customer now had two account numbers, one for their Simple account which was run through Bancorp
and one for their BBVA.

simple still attempted to transfer people seamlessly, but their own systems clashed with those of the newer banks which required verification processes including uploading documents which had been processed before. Transfers of funds were limited, checks didn’t process and cards had to be replaced for multiple customers.
Occasionally customers would fail the verification process for their own account leading to a paperless bank needing paperwork.

Without US citizenship accounts were closed. Those unlucky customers found themselves bankless scrambling to change their funding with nothing but a apology from simple.

https://mobile.twitter.com/arfrank/status/852639585733533696

Others simply received this message

This account is pending closure because your account use does not meet the requirements of Simple’s account agreement. Your card and account are blocked so no further deposits, transactions or transfers can be made.

Though your account is closed, you will still be able to log in to Simple and view your statements and forms, transactions and support messages.

If your balance is currently greater than $2.00 your balance will be remitted to you by check once all transactions on the account have settled. Any balance lower than $2.00 will be forfeited.

-Simple Support

Heartfelt as it may have been simple no longer was its own service, but owned and operated by a larger bank.

BBVA attempted to smooth things over with Simple customers and hoped retain their accounts stating they did not need to take any immediate action.

There is no immediate impact to your accounts at Simple and nothing you need to do at this time. Since your deposits are already housed at BBVA USA, they will remain in FDIC insured accounts there, up to the applicable limits. In the future, your Simple account will become exclusively services by BBVA USA, but until then you can continue to access your account and your money through the Simple app or online at Simple.com.

This acquisition of $117 million led to restructuring within simple. Contracts for call centers were elated with documentation telling the representatives that nothing was changing, while simultaneously tightening the NPS metrics used for every support representative.

It would be at this point that customers would have fled in droves, being required to essentially start a new account all over again, except for the loyalty to said company was so strong that simple was able to retain a large amount of their users.

While all simple account holders knew of BBVA and understood that their accounts were managed by this new bank, it was not at the front-end of most customers mind. To them all account inquiries would still be answered by simple. They could still chat support, and calling the number reserved for customers would after a gold be answered with “thank you for calling simple!”

A highly trained ear would detect the stress of the person now answering the phones, a tell tale sign of the increases work load without pay and the numerous changes imposed by BBVA.

On February 7 2017 Advertising for the
BBVA Compass Simpe Cash back program was emailed to simple account holders, spamming them with advertisements.

While Simple apologized for this and claimed it wasn’t supposed to happen it was clear to customers that a line had been crossed. BBVA didn’t just back simple, but had control over their actions.

Over the course of the next few years simple ran into multiple problems caused by BBVA, all of which simple themselves claimed full responsibility.

But this was a farce for simple had become nothing but a puppet.
While the soul of the company remained, internal struggles between Simple support and BBVA reared fought constantly.

Any and all issues between simple would now be considered a “courtesy”
Insufficient fund fees?

While Simple’s stance was We will not charge an overdraft fee if you do end up with a negative balance in your account.
BBVA would step in and announce any overdrafts were “covered as a courtesy”

Simple would also aggressively freeze accounts, and close user accounts with little information, a move now suspected to be strong-armed by BBVA.
Worse requests for new accounts would be denied, with Simple gagged from saying why.

Additional problems would include transactions posting multiple times with support themselves needing to confer to determine where the funds went.

Disputes on transactions, which before had been seamlessly done now became a audorus process during which a customer needed to speak with “Customer Experience Agents” and although the process came from and was initiated by BBVA, attempting to contact them for a faster resolution would only result in them referring one to Simple.

Simple was no longer simple and customers took notice.

Simple did continue to function as a bank and for many people nothing changed. The support of the company was still strong and all the components of the baking system still worked.

But the cracks continued to show that Simple had become a puppet, owned and enslaved to a larger bank which controlled its every move.

Then one day every remaining simple customer got the following notice.
https://www.reddit.com/r/SimpleBanking/comments/ksjb7x/official_communication_simple_is_closing_its_doors/

To quote one Reddit user who claimed to be a representative

As a former Simple employee(left years ago), I’ll say that this was a very long time coming. We did a solid job keeping the public persona up, but things really got messy internally.

Simple users were given a transition date of May 8 2021 for automatic transfer to BBVA. like taking the button eyes of the other mother, BBVA would become your new home for your dollars. Now you could see who was in control and relieved multiple email messages informing you what you come next

“Thank you for being a Simple customer, it’s been a honor to serve you.
— the team at simple.

The last whispers of Simple’s soul can be seen by going to signin.simple.com
There for a moment before its taken over by the new login lies the poem, left by the simple team.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A message was also left in the blogs which were deleted without mercy. What had before been handcrafted articles with money advice were simply wiped away.

BBVA would then ruthlessly shitcan everyone still working for Simple.

To be clear BBVCA directly fired everyone working for the Simple website and replaced them with cheaper customer service agents. Then they deleted the Simple twitter account at https://twitter.com/simple

Whats next for the customers of simple, acquired by BBVA?

Simple is no more. BBVA announces that all existing accounts have been “seamlessly transitioned” (because they own them dummy) and they inform you you have courtesy fee waivers.

What are those? Well you see as a BBVA customer you’ll get paper statements! Please remember at this point that simple was a paperless bank. Now however there will be a $3 fee (but don’t worry we are waiving it for the first month) for the paper which you never required in the first place.

Next up they are halving overdraft fees. Oh yes THOSE.
Halving overdraft fees. Not waiving, and only for for the first 45 days. This means,
the $32 NSF-Paid Item Fee and the
$32 NSF-Returned Item Fee will be
waived for the first 45 days.

The
Extended Overdraft Service
Charge (the what!?) is also currently being
waived for all accounts in
response to the pandemic.

Checks? Not supported.
The checks you BOUGHT from simple? Not supported.
BBVA also charges $3 to ACH transfer your money to an external account
The changes continue to roll by each more ridiculous then the next.

“Simple” sends a new update, BBVA using the contact email that belonged to the friendly customer service agents. It feels wrong like a old friend has had their skeleton removed.

Part of me feels this is ridiculous. After all a banks a place to put money and cash checks, not laugh at support Gifs. But simple is the only bank that gave you a dumpling recipe after finding people accidentally searching for the ‘’simple dumpling recipe’’
https://www.simple.com/dumplings/recipe

And BBVA is just a heap of dumplings.
Its been over a hour now. I’m on the phone waiting for support, trying not to listen to horrible music. Even their IVR has been updated with cringe passive aggressive behavior.

I’ll continue to hold. Even though its the last day for the transition I fully intend on closing my account.

I’ve been putting off canceling, somewhat in a state of denial. It seems absurd that simple is just..gone.

As for BBVA themselves they are having issues migrating accounts that they already own.

‘’Simple’’ isn’t making it easy to leave. They charge for ACH transfers from their bank and said transfers take UP TO TWO WEEKS TO COMPLETE.

it’s so much easier to stay with BBVA isn’t it? much more simple.
Except Simple is gone. BBVA is nothing but a stranger I want nothing to do with who is already getting acquired by another bank. BBVA is gone as well.

On November 16, 2020, BBVA USA agreed to be acquired by PNC Financial Services for $11.6 billion. Eho even owns my account now? it’s enough to make one’s head spin.

The BBVA website flickers between not working and welcoming everyone to PNC, while simultaneously apologizing about Simple customers converting to BBVA.

The phone answered and I can tell in the seconds before introduction who I’m talking with.

This person is overworked. They don’t like their job and want to be somewhere else.
their call center is run like crap with impossible to reach metrics, and they probably sit next to a guy named Tom who won’t stop farting.

the moment I say “cancel” they let out the tiniest, almost intercept-able sigh. No amount of brainwashing videos or pep would hide it to the ears of one who’s lived it.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last person calling in to cancel my account.

A privacy advocate exploring reality and lies in raw data.

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