December 2 2013 Letter to Canada’s TD Bank Requesting Deletion of Offensive Sentence on Bank Website

TD Bank has issued a statement on its website committing the bank to provide customers impacted by FATCA with “support and information” to ensure that they somehow will receive a “comfortable” experience while the bank is helping the US impose this law.

This statement is offensive and the letter below asks TD Bank to delete the statement from its public website and to apologize to its customers:

[SENT BY HARD COPY AND POSTED ONLINE AT ISAACBROCKSOCIETY.CA AND MAPLESANDBOX.CA]

December 2, 2013

Attn: Customer Service
Toronto-Dominion Centre
P.O Box 193
Toronto, ON
M5K 1H6

E-mail: customerservice@td.com

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Request for deletion of offensive statement on TD Bank website

This is a request that TD Bank delete the second sentence in section #5 of your website: http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/customer-service/overview/fatca.jsp

The sentence reads: “TD is committed to providing impacted customers with support and information to ensure they receive a comfortable experience once the law comes into effect.”

The law referred to in this sentence is the U.S. imposed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in which TD Bank will assist a branch of a foreign government, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in obtaining financial information on its customers in Canada.

I ask that the sentence be deleted firstly, because it is offensive and mean-spirited for your bank to suggest that your “U.S. person” customers in Canada, whose banking information will be turned over forcibly by your bank to the U.S. IRS, might ever consider such an unpleasant experience to be “comfortable.”

This sentence must also be deleted, especially given the deliberate selection of the word “ensure,” because, unless you can provide evidence to the contrary, the statement is misleading—and your bank is not permitted by federal regulation to provide misleading information to the public. In this regard, TD Bank (as would all reasonable people) must admit that it is not possible that the experience of an “impacted” Canadian of having his/her banking information turned over to a foreign government could ever, on logical grounds, be made “comfortable.”

To the extent that the statement implies that TD Bank will provide a positive experience, the sentence is misleading.

Moreover, advocating for a change in banking, privacy, and human rights laws to meet demands of a foreign country is a serious betrayal of your long-time customers who are highly likely to consider alternatives to banking at TD Bank.

I ask that this deletion be made no later than by end of business day December 6, 2013 and at the same time TD Bank issue a statement on the website alerting the public that the change has been made. In addition, an apology must be issued. The apology should include a statement that a description of the “service” of providing a “comfortable” experience to those customers impacted by FATCA was regretfully inappropriately worded.

TD Bank’s “Step One” of resolving problems, prior to escalating the concern to the TD Ombudsman, includes providing the names of TD Bank employees involved in the dispute. The names of these employees include [ ] and [ ] at TD Bank who would not respond directly to my requests (November 26 and 27, 2013) to speak to your bank to resolve FATCA issues raised on your website—instead directing me to contact the Canadian Banking Association (which did not make this offensive statement in your website). Because your employees would not agree to my request for an interview, I have had no choice but to seek assistance from TD Bank Customer Service.

I suggest that you elevate my concern to [ ], as [ ] appears to be the [ ] FATCA point person for TD Bank. Please forward this letter to [his/her] office, as the address of TD’s FATCA point person is not disclosed to the public.

The names of these TD Bank employees are being provided in my letter only to “Customer Service” and are not copied to others.

I also have copied this letter to Finance Minister Flaherty and to his relevant counterparts in the NDP (Murray Rankin, National Revenue critic) and Liberal (Scott Brison, Finance and National Revenue critic) parties, as all three have opinions on your bank’s (unfortunate) involvement in implementation of the U.S. FATCA law.

In addition, this letter will be forwarded to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), responsible for dealing with complaints to federally regulated banks. Please confirm that the following “Public Commitment” statement on the FCAC site: “CBA member banks will provide the information in language, and present it in a manner, that is clear, simple and not misleading” applies to public descriptions of all services provided by TD Bank.

I do appreciate that the offending sentence was most likely drafted by an overzealous individual in your Public Affairs department. Nevertheless, the sentence is patently offensive, misleading from the perspective of an impacted customer who will be terrified by the consequences of your bank’s actions– and TD Bank must correct the error.

If TD Bank does not agree to remove the sentence, please advise immediately and provide explicit confirmation. My contact details are shown below.

Sincerely,

[Name and address provided to TD Bank and all cc’d]

cc: [TD Bank employee]
Honourable Minister James Flaherty
Honourable Scott Brison
Honourable Murray Rankin
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

10 thoughts on “December 2 2013 Letter to Canada’s TD Bank Requesting Deletion of Offensive Sentence on Bank Website

  1. George

    Google ‘Is computershare subject to FATCA’

    That will give you as much information as anyone else has Hint- they are planning to comply. OTOH if they don’t know where you were born, you have little to worry about.

    Your brokerage can’t close your RRSP willy nilly. Relax a bit.

  2. @George

    Computershare Canada would be involved in FATCA in some way as a back office operation. The relationship between brokerages and other parts of the financial industry are still being worked out (as far as I know) and likely won’t be settled until (or if) there is an IGA and CRA provides guidance.

    The expectation is that RRSPs will be not be considered as financial accounts and therefore will be non-reportable for FATCA purposes.

    However, until we know exactly what the US and Canada agree to and what’s in the CRA guidance, we can only speculate.

  3. George: I think it would be better if I gave you Joe’s contact information. I don’t feel qualified to ask questions and convey responses to the Canadian equity and provincial bonds issues.

  4. Thanks
    But if you can please ask that question I would sure appreciate it. I am no where as hopeful that a constitutional challenge can work.

  5. @George: I don’t think Joe Arvay has that level of detail about FATCA. He is looking at it from the perspective of whether we have grounds for a lawsuit against the banks or a Charter challenge against the government.

  6. Blaze can you ask Joe Avery spelling? if transfer agent for Canadian equity and Provincial bonds (principally computershare Canada) is subject to FATCA? In addition I have a RRSP with a brokerage account with only provincial bonds. Can you ask him if the brokerage firm can ever close that?
    I have been trying to contact other lawyers and if they have not worked with you they do not want to help.

  7. Great letter. TD has more branches in US than they do in Canada. I don’t know how they can call themselves Canadian any more.

    I have been a Canada Trust customer for 33 years. TD may have taken over Canada Trust, but they don’t hold a candle to the old Canada Trust for customer service. That’s the reason I have been gradually transferring money to a credit union for several years.

    When I transferred a very large amount recently, the branch manager called and asked me why. I said “Because I don’t trust you not to FATCA me.” So much for “comfortable.”

    I tweeted the letter to @tdcanadatrust.

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