Rebranding is not a new trick. You may recall that Philip Morris tried to rebrand itself as Altria because of all the bad press associated with cigarettes. Now GMAC bank is trying to rebrand itself as Ally Bank, an honest bank with no ties to the shiftiness of the economic collapse.

Why Ally Bank?
It’s simple: the word “ally” gives the impression that the bank is your partner, working with you to achieve your common goal of protecting your money. By using this as their name, they’re sending the message that you can trust them.

GMAC is only mentioned once on the site, then the rest is about their strong values and dedication to honesty.

New Ally Bank Features
With the launch comes a host of new offerings, including a no-penalty CD that you can withdraw from anytime, a traditional CD, a savings accounts, and a money market account. The interest rates are above the rate you’d find for a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, and about even with other online banks.

The biggest difference they tout is that they have no fees, and no minimum balances. And, in big capital letters “NO SNEAKY DISCLAIMERS.” Hmmm, why do they have to stress that so hard? Could it be because as an auto loan and mortgage corporation, they were pretty synonymous with sneakiness and miles of disclaimers?

Why Rebrand?
GMAC Financial Services only became a bank in late December of 2008, when they were on the verge of collapse and applied to become a bank so they could accept bailout funds. Following the stress tests last week, GMAC was informed that it needed $11.5 billion in additional capital, most likely from the government.

They’re now rebranding to distance themselves from the taint of both General Motors (which established GMAC as its auto financing arm, before expanding into mortgages, and from there into financial ruin) and the banking system collapse and bail-out. This is a way for GMAC to get a fresh start.

Like most banks, I found mixed reviews of their customer service, interest rates, and general practices online. I don’t think the rebranding was an attempt to hide poor customer service, but rather a response to poor public sentiment. Unlike GMAC, Ally Bank doesn’t automatically create negative impressions of bad cars and shady practices.

On the other hand, a rebrand is just a new name for an existing company. This doesn’t change their need for capital, it doesn’t change the people behind the bank, and it doesn’t change the corporate culture that resulted in financial ruin. They don’t issue mortgages, though, so at least it’s a start.

Only time will tell whether or not people buy into the brand. It really doesn’t affect your decision about whether or not to use the bank. It’s just interesting to see how a bank attempts to change its brand during one of the worst financial crises in history.

Comments

29 Responses to “Ally Bank: A Sheep or A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing?”

  1. Matt SF on May 22nd, 2009 11:01 am

    They can try to rebrand all they want, but they’ll always be remembered for what they were. Not sure this was the best move on their part.

  2. Sarah on May 26th, 2009 9:18 am

    I’ve been a customer of gmacbank for several years and have been quite satisfied. My biggest regret is that I didn’t put a whole bunch of money into their 5 year CD’s four years ago. I would’ve made it through this economic mess in better stead. I have NO complaints!

  3. Will on May 29th, 2009 5:42 pm

    DO NOT TRUST ALLY BANK!!!!!!
    After making my initial deposit they took $12,000 out if my checking account without my authorization, making me $5000 overdrawn, with no money to pay bills, and told me that I did it and it would be 3 to 5 business days before I could get any of my money back into my account. I’m still waiting!

  4. Debra on June 3rd, 2009 8:51 am

    I saw an ad on TV about Ally Bank that was very interesting especially the interest rates. I thought I should do some research on this company before I invested with them.
    Boy, am I ever glad I did. I was not aware of the fact this is GMAC trying to rebrand itself. I don’t blame them for trying to rebrand, I would too if I had ripped off people like they have. I am so glad I had the good sense to do some research before investing my money with ALLY/GMAC.

  5. Buff Crone on July 15th, 2009 9:34 am

    I also saw very appealing rates at Ally Bank but have had nothing but problems with them. First, you cannot open a trust account on line or on the phone. With every other internet bank, they will open the account and then verify the trust when they receive the check and paperwork. Mysteriously, when my check and paperwork arrived, the interest rate promised had disappeared. Then it took them several days after I KNOW I received the check to open the account (7-10 days, they say, although the check cleared before that.) THEN I received a letter that said I had “changed the name on my account” although I had NOT. And a deposit envelope and slip, although I had already sent my deposit. But not a PEEP acknowledging my deposit! Finally the signature card gives an address and includes an envelope, but the “customer service representative” told me that address was wrong and gave me a different address!! How is anyone to trust such a bank?

  6. Withheld on July 18th, 2009 11:24 am

    Just received a letter in the mail telling us that “your mortgage loan has been transferred to Ally Bank.” We do not do ANY business with Ally and because of various things that I won’t go into here, we know this is NOT and CANNOT be the case. I think it’s just a marketing ploy and looks very suspicious. Doesn’t really sound good for business and very “straight forward,” as they say they are.

  7. STAY AWAY FROM ALLY on July 27th, 2009 7:56 pm

    July 14, 2009
    It is true that the customer service at ally bank is downright rude and jam packed with condesending illiterates. The rebranding was a complete mess. The could not accommodate logins greater than 20 characters even though GMAC had no problems with that. It took over a month for me to even access my account on ally’s website. This month I was notified by a debit on my account statement that I was being subjected to Backup Withholding Adjustments. Apparently I never signed new signature cards for ally bank, even though they were filed with GMAC. I was never notified of this requirement or the potential withholding. The CSR said that they sent the information in the welcome kit that I never received. What is interesting is that on line they do not show the debit, just in the written statement.

    The CSR Manager when asked why this was the case, explained indeed it was shown, for if I added the interest to the previous balance I would note a discrepancy in the new balance and that discrepancy is the amount of the withholding. Outrageous.

    I pulled my money – well asked that that be done – whether or not I ever get my check is yet to be seen. I was informed that I will get the 5 days interest from 7/5 – 7/13 – thats another one yet to be seen.

    They also violated the law which says that a payee must be notified of the backup withholding; they never did. What irks me most that they have no interest in any customer service. I know that my measly $60k isn’t much to them, but they proved it by, in a sense saying that my account was not important to them, my business was not important, a good company would have contacted me by mail or email saying that my business is important and that if I didn’t send the signature cards I would be assessed with the withholding. But of course that never happened.

    I have spent more time with these clowns over the phone than any other financial institution and it has never, ever been a pleasent experience. Now it is my one-man-crusade to tell everyone I can. I hope that others experiencing the same withholding due to ally’s ineptness will contact me at todd.gundlach@gmail.com – I plan to contact the IRS and the Massachusetts Attorney General on the withholding to see what happens. It is also worth the $20 to file a small claim, and who knows maybe it will snowball.

  8. STAY AWAY FROM ALLY on July 27th, 2009 7:58 pm

    July 27, 2009
    Ok I’m all the way to the top of the Executive Resolution Team and they are just as bad as the CSRs – The term they use for the poor woman on the other end of the phone is the “voice of the customer” 215-734-6649.

    So I get my check and deposit it into my local bank for safe keeping. The day later they mail me a letter that I receive 4 days after that – they put a hard hold on the check even though it is an ‘official check’. I am furious at the CSR mgr on the phone last night, happens to be the same poor sap that I berated on the 13th. He finally capitulates with the above number and information.

    I call the number this morning, message says the lady will be back on Monday (duh it is Monday – change your message – but her message leaves the number of her supervisor – 215-734-6287 – this is the Executive Resolution Team Supervisor). I want to talk to them because the CSR mgr says that all I have to do is talk to my bank to release the funds overnight – there is nothing Ally can do.

    I sit with the poor Asst. Branch Mgr. this afternoon for 2 hours and 10 minutes as she tries and tries to get the check verified, none of the phone numbers above come up on their “411″ system as official bank numbers, therefore anyone they talk to cannot be verified as actual bank people (I am not kidding you). I enable a quasi-conference call between the local bank and Ally’s Executive Resolution Team Supervisor, and still the local bank cannot verify the anything to do with Ally, the numbers on the bottom of the check are not typical. The poor Asst. Branch Mgr. eventually gets to other branch managers in other towns as the locals are all on vacation, she breaks through to the hard hold department (she won’t give me that number)whom informs her (and I am not kidding here and the quotes are genuine), “Ally Bank is no ally of Citizens and we have problems verifying Ally Bank funds”. I am livid. My money will now be out of Citizens within a week and back to a good old credit union – check out harborone.com – their i-savings is getting 1.70 with zero hassles.

  9. p on September 24th, 2009 10:06 pm

    They will scam you where ever possible. I had a CD mature with them and they forgot to pay the interest…..Very convenient.

  10. CW on December 27th, 2009 1:11 pm

    Do not deal with Ally/GMAC , they got money bail out from the Government but will not apporve me a simple 30k cash out refinace loan without giving me hell and foolish stall tactics,, even though my mortgage been with them 15 years and never been late with a payment. My credit rating is 728, income over 100k per year, been on my job 36 years and 200k of equity in my home and been living here for 21 years. My positon was too strong for them to legally reject the loan outright. Therefore, they insulted me till I could not work with them anymore and withdrew my loan. Dec,26,2009

  11. Shorebreak on January 6th, 2010 2:02 pm

    Good luck getting your money after a certificate of deposit with Ally Bank matures and you told them not to renew it. Their policy states they will transfer it within 24 to 48 hours. They don’t follow their policy and hope it goes past the 10 day grace period in which case it renews automatically at a lower rate. Then you have to write letters to them and it will be weeks before it gets resolved. You know the TV ad with the pony? Well, everyone gets the toy pony no matter what they claim. No wonder Ally has a C minus rating from BBB. Don’t bank with them. Go to a community credit union or bank instead and keep your money working locally and where you can talk someone in person if there is a problem. A little extra yield on a deposit account is just not worth the aggravation with banks like Ally.

  12. Ak_wild on February 6th, 2010 7:53 am

    Ally Bank unofficially sanctions identity theft, you would be wise to contact your other bank and have a permanent stop payment on any ACH transfers requested by Ally Bank, then again if you have stole someones identity, and they have a great credit rating, you can steal freely from anyones account that you can supply account numbers to if you open an ally bank account. they fail meeting the 2002 patriot act requirements, that every other bank meets, I have had two 25k withdrawls from my other bank account from fraudulant accounts set up at Ally. one of my accounts was 4 months old and only 3 federal agencies have the account numbers…and no I dont have a trojan or virus.

  13. Elise on April 22nd, 2010 7:33 pm

    OK.. it’s my own fault for not reading the fine print about the 6 limit withdrawal on my Money Market account. So, I go to use the card and it’s not working. I call Ally and they tell me it’s been cut off because I used the card more than 6 times. THIRTEEN more times @ $10 a pop. Why didn’t they cut me off at the 7th time? I’m po’d and they haven’t heard the end of this.

  14. John Gasell on May 20th, 2010 10:35 am

    I had 2 Ally CDs matured May 7, 2010. On May 19 I was advised a check representing the proceeds was mailed May 18 and the remaining CD had not been closed out. All of this after several telephone calls and 4 emails to “customer service’. yES, Ally plays tricks on little kids AND big kids.

  15. Dick on June 1st, 2010 1:06 pm

    Ally does play games with Certificates of Deposit in 4 ways that are not industry standard.

    1. They required a credit check on me before opening the account.

    2. They did not have me sign a standard “no withholding” form and sent 28% of the interest to the IRS.

    3. Even though I sent them a letter with specific instructions on where to wire the maturing proceeds, they are going to send two “microdeposits” to my checking account to make sure all is okay. Then I have to check my account to make sure the microdeposits made it and then call Ally before they will send the rest.

    4. The process to obtain CD proceeds takes a few days at best. I suspect Ally is using the “float” time from several thousand matuing CDs to better their financial condition directly at customer’s cost.

  16. Hard @ work on July 1st, 2010 7:55 am

    I work for Ally Bank. I as an ‘advocate’ agree with pretty much everything in this blog thus far. Here are a few things to know.

    1. Never talk 2 the center in TX. They are POORLY trained!

    2. Don’t call expecting to get your money in a couple of days. The ‘financial department’ is ALWAYS back logged.

    3. They have far too many system issues which cause withholdings to come out of your account, fees being assessed, statements not going out, and many more.

    As an advocate I try and do my best to help whoever reaches me, but I am limited as to what I can do because every request has to be ‘sent up’.

    As someone who hears and sees everything that goes on, I personally would not bank with the company I work for. I hate working for them as well, and if they find out who has written this I will be terminated. ( I had to sign an affidavit stating that I couldn’t talk about policies or the people I work with outside of work. I don’t think I signed it because it takes away my freedom of speech, but still they will do it.)

    X The One True Advocate

  17. Mellodee on July 9th, 2010 3:56 pm

    Absolutely worst bank ever. Its been 30 days and I’m still waiting on a debit card. I was told it would be sent to me next day and I should receive it tomorrow but I was told that before also. You can cool believe as soon as I get it I’m getting my money out of that bank. I feel hopeless with them having my money and being able to limit my access to it. Here are a couple of names and numbers that I found for Ally complaint numbers:

    1. Mary Schroeder-mary.schroeder@gmac.com-215 734 5000/Mary is the Operations Manager
    2. Michael DiComo-Sr. VP of Operations-he can be reached at the same number as Mary. When you call you will be opted to press 1 to say the name of the person you wish to speak to.
    3. Sophia Dorsey-She actually called me and told me my card would be shipped to me so I saved her number and even called it back to make sure she would answer and she did. According to one of the supervisors I talked to she is the “debit card queen”. Her number is 215 734 6457.

    I hope this help someone. I know how it feels to be frustrated and these people don’t seem to understand you can’t play with peoples money regardless of what the reason. I will never open an account again with a bank that I can not physically walk into when there’s a problem and I hope you won’t either. Let this sorry bank be a lesson to us all.

  18. Sam on August 14th, 2010 7:25 am

    I confess that I did not know that Ally Bank was GMAC recycled when I opened my first account with them. If I had I probably would not have done it. I was attracted by the ads that really pushed my buttons about the ways that banks typically fleece their customers:

    Exorbitant Fees.
    Overdraft policies that charge you for a loan when you have plenty of funds in your savings account to cover the rare case when you overdraw your account due to bad timing.
    Unresponsive customer service reps
    Endless telephone trees.

    I had been with Bank of America after they bought out Fleet Bank after they bought out Bank of Boston. I was with those organizations through all of the restructuring for a total of more than 25 years. Each one was worse than their predecessor.

    Having said all that my experience with Ally has been excellent. I can get a real person almost instantly when I call.

    When I do get them they are courteous, knowledgeable and generally very effective.

    They don’t charge me for transferring funds from savings to checking if I accidently overdraw my account.

    I get interest on both checking and savings that is far above what I got at BoA.

    I am very pleased with Ally Bank and now have 5 accounts with them.

  19. joanna on September 2nd, 2010 6:06 pm

    Do not bank with Ally.

    I opened a CD of 12,000 and transferred 12,0000 from Bank of America (twice) only suppose to be transferred once to Ally bank and after many talks with the Rep I finally received 12,000 back into my bank of America.

    The next day I log in and there is 0 in my Ally bank account!! I am now missing 12,000 money in my Ally bank. They said they transferred 12,000 into bank of America, Yes but since I transferred twice. I still had 12,000.

    Not sure what to do at this point. I have all my receipts and documents. I live in Florida if anyone have any suggestions as to suing them please email me at Joanna.tseng@ufl.edu

    any help is appreciated.

  20. joanna on September 2nd, 2010 6:13 pm

    Correction to my previous post the amount was 12,000 transferred twice. (first paragraph)

  21. Bank in huge debt on December 26th, 2010 2:32 am

    Do you remember when the government gave 14 Trillion dollars to GMAC in bailout money when the Fed declared them a bank to qualify them, even though they are not one? They are now 56% owned by the US treasury. They never repaid their loans, but they renamed themselves as Ally Financial.

    GMAC led the way ahead of all other mortgage companies and set records for foreclosing on more homes than any other lender in the US for the past three years. There are currently hundreds of open lawsuits against them for wrongful foreclosure nationwide. Suddenly they have decided to take advanage of their bank status…
    Stay far away from this sinking ship.

  22. Steffanie on February 28th, 2011 11:35 am

    They also source their customer service calls overseas; nice way to support the American economy and help with the unemployment rate!

  23. Upset in Texas on April 25th, 2011 6:52 pm

    After Ally told me I was approved for a home loan, I went ahead and put earnest money down and paid for a home inspection for the home I was approved to make an offer on. These things cost me $2680 and after spending this money Ally changes their mind and tells me I am no longer approved for the home loan. I am now out the $2680 and I am reporting Ally to the Better Business Bureau and I am telling everyone I know not to try and do business with them!! I just wish I had read all the other reviews from everyone on here who have been screwed out of money by them! Don’t let yourself become another victim of Ally’s fraudulent business practices!!!

  24. Aryn on April 27th, 2011 1:56 pm

    First, you should be able to get your earnest money back. Most purchase offers are contingent on financing being approved. If your loan was denied, then the contingency applies and you can get a refund. You’re out the inspection fee, though. Review your purchase offer to make sure that clause was in there. If it wasn’t, you may be out the money, but if it was, you should get your funds back.

    Second, this isn’t necessarily unique to Ally. Many banks extend pre-approval, but note that it is still dependent on full underwriting. Many pre-approved loans are later denied once they undergo full underwriting for a variety of reasons. Pre-approval is typically only based on credit scores, debt to income ratio, interest rate at the time of the approval, and income. They consider many more factors once you submit a full application. In fact, some loans are approved, and then denied at closing because a factor changes. It happened to friends of mine, who had to scramble to get a new loan two days before closing. They weren’t with Ally.

  25. Disgruntled Ally Customer on June 8th, 2011 9:57 pm

    Ally new website is nearly a complete failure! I have had nothing but problems since Ally attempted to transfer GMAC’s accounts to their own server. Can’t log in despite changing passwords. When you call to complain, they want to charge you $15 for a phone transaction fee, despite their IT dept being the origin of the problem. I have NEVER had so many problems with a financial institution or website in my life. They should have left GMAC site alone!

  26. DP the OG on May 30th, 2012 4:54 pm

    Well, if you get into auto leasing, and Ally bills you twice in a single month, make sure you never ask for a double payment back. I’ve been trying to get Ally to give me my money back for months now, since they charged me twice in error for March and stupid me paid it without looking at the little 4 which had turned into a 9. 4′s look so much like 9′s in the early morning. The problem was that I didn’t eat the cost by borrowing from elsewhere and actually asked for Ally to refund the extra month. They adjusted the account that very day — to show that they had refunded it. But I’ve never seen the money and now they say it’s past due. I’ve spoken with them 5 times and each time takes several days to a week to process, so they tell me and nothing gets done. It was lightning fast when they took my money, anyway.

    As for you, Ally, if someone from over there is reading this: I’ve had it with you people. That payment is going to be past due — forever. I’m not giving you another dime.

  27. Alma Carney on August 10th, 2012 2:22 pm

    I have an auto loan with Ally. Two months ago they drafted my account double; causing me to have overdraft charges and less the amount of money drafted in error. Todate, I am still waiting on a refund of the double payment drafted two months ago. Oh, I received the overdraft bank charges which is much less than the amount of money they have not refunded.

  28. MBinWV on August 11th, 2012 7:33 am

    I’ve been an Ally customer for approximately 4 months.

    During that period, my place of employment has attempted to direct deposit my paychecks into Ally, but the deposits were rejected. I then tried to e-check deposit my paychecks….which Ally held for 12 days EACH time before depositing. In the mean time, I had checked and double checked and triple checked that the account information that was being used was correct. Each time I called Ally I was subjected to yammerings about account numbers that I’ve confirmed and hold times I find excessive, given the fact that it’s a salary check for the same amount every two weeks. But, I figured it would all be fine when the direct deposit issue was fixed.

    After five attempts, my accounting department said “Good news, your deposit has been accepted!” and I was so happy. But on deposit day, my money wasn’t in my account. My pay stub said “This is not a check” and Ally said “We don’t know where your money is…but it may take us 24 to 48 (business) hours to research it” On a Friday that means I won’t hear from Ally until Tuesday, and if they DO find it, I’m sure they’ll come up with a reason to hold it for another 12 days.

    The worst part…while speaking with a customer service supervisor (almost as useless as a customer service representative, but with a more authoritative sounding title) she indicated that there was no way to further expedite my resolution, as it was a newly opened issue. WTF? I’ve been calling over and over for months about the same issue. Maybe it’s a bit different than the last eight calls, but it still boils down to the same. little. nugget. My direct deposit isn’t being deposited and Ally won’t give me my money.

    The fee-less accounts, the interest, the convenience, the friendly customer service, the e-check deposit…it all sounds fantastic, but BEWARE. You’ll continuously call with the same issues. You’ll wait weeks for access to your own money and there is no direct line to the resolution center…leaving you at the mercy of friendly, but relatively helpless customer service reps (and supervisors).

    I’ll be posting this review on every available site for each waking hour that my funds remain missing in some Ally limbo. At the earliest availability I’ll be removing my money and marching it straight toward the teller of a better bank…if there is such a thing.

    Wish me luck.

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