What’s The D In RDSP?

I’ve discovered something else about the handling of BMO’s RDSP’s that I think they’d be wise to fix. They don’t have things in the works to send statements in alternative formats! Um, that’s a pretty big gaping hole.

I called them to inquire about some things, and asked how I could get statements in braille. They said they couldn’t do that. I said that I’d heard that BMO’s account holders could get their statements in braille. They said they did, but that was handled through a different department and they hadn’t gotten around to finding one for us…they were so busy starting everything up in the first place. I said the arranging for alternative formats should have been one of those priorities that was running on a parallel track along with applying for all the grants and bonds and such. I said I needed to refresh my memory on what the d in RDSP stood for. It was for disability, yes? And blindness is a pretty significant disability, no? So it stands to reason that a lot of blind people might choose BMO to hold their RDSP’s, since BMO was the first one out of the gate doing this thing. So they might want to get their behinds in gear in the alternative format department.

I said to the person, would you go to a bank that told you they were new, and they hadn’t gotten around to establishing a system for mailing out printed statements? No way! I said wouldn’t he agree that it’s easier to look at the numbers than have them read to him? He sputtered a yes. I asked him if he could pass on my request to someone who could do something about it. He said yes. I told him that I appreciated the fact that I could phone in, but I needed to have access to my statements in a format I could use.

Today, I phoned up to make my final contribution for the year. While I was deciding where I would put my money, the guy asked me if I’d received their book on mutual funds. I said I had, but I couldn’t read it because I was blind. Sure I could scan it, but scans aren’t kind to tables of numbers. I asked him if he knew of a place online I could download it. I said I’d already tried, but what I got wasn’t explanatory in the least. He then offered to send me another book! Hello! If you send me a mountain of print, it is not going to heal my eyes! I said that was not going to work, and it would be better if I could get it in an alternative format. He stammered, and he stuttered, but he came up with nothin’ except “Do you have someone to help you?” Is that ringing any bells? I said no I did not. I wanted to read the statements myself. I went through my whole routine about a lot of blind folks may open RDSP’s and it would be smart to get moving on alternative formats, and in fact it would be stupid not to, because not doing it shows a lack of understanding of a whole group of customers’ needs. Plus, I laughed and said “you would be kicking your competitors’ butts.” He laughed and said he would pass my request on to upper management.

I urge anyone who has an RDSP to start asking for alternative formats. These are the banks. They can afford to do it, and at least in the case of RBC and BMO, they already do for their regular account holders.

I am so not done with this. I have 3 ideas of things to do. First, I’m going to call back and ask where I can send a letter expressing feedback. I don’t think I’ll say complaints, because likely that will get me nowhere. Then I’ll start composing a letter asking for statements in a format we can use. Then, I’m going to call all the other banks who have RDSP programs and ask them what they have in place with regard to alternative format. Whatever they say, I win. If they all have it, I can say in my letter that BMO is lacking, and if they don’t, I can say again that they will be giving themselves a serious advantage if they get a move on with alternative formats. I am also going to read the customer service standard for the AODA and its provisions on alternative format and see if that could force them to comply, or whether they could wiggle out of it by saying that the phone is considered alternative format.

So, anybody else wanna embark on this mission with me? I think it’s exceedingly stupid that banks creating the opportunity for people to open RDSP’s didn’t realize that alternative formats needed to be found for the print. Hello, the percentage of blind customers would be way higher, I would think, among RDSP-holders than among other groups. To refuse to get moving on this reflects a complete lack of understanding of the group they’re serving. And I love the attitude that we all have helpers. It feels like a lack of respect that they think we don’t need to read our own statements.

Hopefully we can get going and find a solution. Then the system might just be almost perfect. It still sucks that you can’t go in and talk to a person at the bank, but I’ve discovered that you can get people’s extensions at the investment centre. So if you find someone you really like, in theory you could try and talk to them all the time. But this whole alternative format thing has to happen, and soon.

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