You get what you pay for – Frustrations with PC Financial

For about eight year’s I’ve banked at President’s Choice (PC) Financial.

The good: you get free checking and savings accounts without any service fees. Almost everything is included: cheques, bill payments, interact at CIBC machines, even checking the PDF of your cheques online. All free.

The bad: no branches. All interaction is online or over the phone. Yes, there are kiosks at Loblaws, but if you’ve ever tried to do anything at one, you know that they just sit you down in there and put you on the phone.

Frankly, this wasn’t really an issue until about a month ago. I needed a bank draft/money order. Instead of having a friend get one for me and give them the cash, I decided to figure out how to do it myself. The PC financial website told me I could request a draft online – it would cost $7.50 (which is on par with most other banks), and arrive in the mail in 5-7 business days. I spoke to someone on the phone who confirmed the timeline — it should go into the mail within a day or two, but then would be in Canada Post’s hands. And since I’m in the GTA, I’d likely get it earlier.

This was on Monday March 16, and I needed the draft by the following Thursday March 26. Plenty of time.

Or not.

On the fifth business day, still no draft (though the money had been withdrawn on the day I had ordered the draft). I called the 800 (or 866) number. They told me that it takes 5-7 business days. Fine.

On the seventh business day, there was still no sign of the draft. Called again, this time with my Father (he is scarier than I am). They still blamed Canada Post, but refunded me the $7.50 charge. The person we spoke to said the easiest thing would be to wait until the draft arrived in the mail and deposit it into my account. I said I would wait until Monday (when I was moving) but then they would have to refund me.

Since it was the Thursday now (i.e. the day I needed the draft by), there was no time for them to send a draft to a CIBC branch for me to pick up (wiring the money takes a day or two). Instead they directed me to the post office where I could get a money order. Worked fine for my purposes – and was cheaper than the draft (only $5.50). Not to mention, it took less than 10 minutes and I walked out with it in hand.

The bank draft arrived on MONDAY. 10 business days after it was ordered. The draft was dated March 16. The envelope was postmarked March 27.  Yes, it took PC financial 11 days (9 business days) to get the draft into the mail. It took 2 days for Canada Post to deliver it.

I’m very close to switching banks – just trying to figure out where to. It’s true that I have had little to no problems with PC Financial for 8 years, but this has taught me I can’t depend on them to provide me reliable service when I do need it. That’s something I need from my bank.
Moral of the story: if you need a bank draft (money order, certified cheque etc) and bank with PC financial, don’t bother. And Canada Post isn’t [always] the bad guy.

PS I know this post is out of character – I’m posting in the hopes that the next person who googles PC Financial Bank draft might stumble upon this and save themselves some trouble.

27 Responses to “You get what you pay for – Frustrations with PC Financial”

  1. Jeff Says:

    yup, sounds like you’re angry. but the thing about the other banks: Fees. how much are you willing to pay to be able to go to a bank? sounds like over the last 8 years, you’ve essentially needed to go to a bank 1 time, and you now know you could’ve gone to the post office. and to avoid fees, you need to leave like 1,500 or up to 5,000 in your account. who does that? if you’re like me, probably not you. (i mean your chequing account which gets 0.000042% interest).

    previous research has shown me that probably the only reason to have a real bank is for the eventual house mortgage. but even that – you end up shopping around to whatever bank gives you the best rate now, and it may not be yours. i bet they’d even throw in a bank account to get your mortgage. might consider that?

    if you want to discuss, you know where to find me 🙂 (hint: it’s really not far…)

  2. jenn Says:

    you’re funny – mortgage? i just moved! eek!

    this makes me feel better about the fact that I probably won’t end up leaving PC. i’ve gotten some $$ (fine, PC points, but it’s FREE GROCERIES) from them already as compensation because the draft was late, and expect I’ll be getting more since my dad is still not happy.

    truth is, if i would have let my dad get me the draft in the first place it would have been a non-issue. stubborn me, trying to be a big girl.

  3. Baron Says:

    Plus, Canada Post has nice money orders with beaver watermarks on it. Yours probably has a silhouette of Galen Weston Jr. Pfft.

  4. Heather Says:

    Your best bet is to (somehow) find a no service fee account with one of the major banking institutions, through an employer. Somehow I managed to score one of these from CIBC while I was working at RIM during my co-op days (I just had to switch my automatic payments to my new CIBC account). Even though it is years later and I no longer work for RIM any longer, my account is still exactly the same. Absolutely no service fees. It’s terrific!

  5. Mark Says:

    Hi. I was doing some research on PCF because I’m considering getting a mortgage from them in the near future. I have banked with them for about 4 years now and have been pretty happy. The PCF MC has certainly been amazing in racking up the PC points, in less than a year we’ve earned almost $500 worth of points. Not bad for a no fee credit card. We charge absolutely everything to it each month, including bills and then pay it off in full.

    All that said, a mortgage is a pretty complex financial process. So I’m a little concerned about going through a virtual bank for it. So far, I can’t find any significant negative commentary regarding PCF with regards to mortgages.

    Any stories about the “mortgage experiece” – good or bad out there that someone would like to share?

    As far as the bankdraft goes, I agree that you are probably best get them to increase your daily debit card limit and purchase one at Can Post or some other place like Money Mart that sells them cheap and accepts debit cards. When purchasing a car a few months ago, I called PCF and after a quick review of the account they raised the daily debit limit to $3000/day so we could use it for a downpayment at the car dealer. Since I’m joint with my partner, that meant $6000 in total for the day. Saved the hassle of getting a bank draft and it was free of course. There’s usually an option out there for every situation.

    Thanks for listening.

  6. Alyssa Says:

    Jenn, thanks for your blog. I thought I was having an isolated incident. I too ordered a bank draft from President’s Choice Financial. And as you mentioned, the website indicated that I would get the bank draft “5-7 business days” from when I ordered it. Well, for me, it’s now day 11 (business day 9) and I still have not received the bank draft! And after reading your blog, I suspect that I will not get it for at least another 2 business days.

    I called PCF a couple of times now and they give me the same company line – blaming Canada Post for delaying the delivery. I suspect that when the bank draft finally comes (if at all) that it will also be postmarked similar to yours. I would not be so angry if the website simply indicated that the bank draft would take maybe “12 to 15” business days, but it does not! If someone else ends up reading this – beware! And if you work for PCF, smarten up!

    PCF takes the money from your account right away. In my case, they will not reimburse me the $7.50 service charge. And worse still, they say that if it takes longer than 14 business days, I should formally report the bank draft lost/stolen – I would then have to wait additional time and expense to draft up a new bank draft.

    And the kicker?! – they said that I should have paid an additional $20 (plus the original $7.50) service charge to have the bank draft done up at CIBC where I could get the money right away. That’s fine and dandy – but why then have a website for bank drafts and not mention this little feature? Why also would you indicate the 5-7 business days to receive the bank draft when you really mean “it comes when it comes?!”

  7. jenn Says:

    Hi Alyssa,
    Glad you found my post. I’m super sad that they haven’t improved their process – but not surprised. It’s too bad really because how hard is it to get things in the mail??

    In terms of compensation, at the very least you should receive your $7.50 back – they didn’t provide the service that you had paid for! Have you tried to speak to a supervisor? Maybe then you’ll have more luck.

    Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!
    Thanks again for the comment 🙂

  8. john Says:


    Exact same situation is currently happening too me.. I ordered the draft 2 weeks ago, still nowhere in sight. They charge a 28.80 fee to pick up the draft and it still takes 2-3 business days, or 7.50 and takes over two weeks.. Wtf. Why is it so expensive/such a hassle to access our OWN money. I’m switching my bank asap, what’s good interest rates with service like this?

  9. jenn Says:

    SO FRUSTRATING. HOW are they still getting away with such crappy service?!? My confession – I didn’t switch banks. At least not yet.
    Anyway, I hope they at least refund you the $7.50. And when you finally get the draft, I’m curious how far after the order date it’s post marked.

  10. Lisa Says:

    I am now at day 16 waiting for my bank draft, I ordered it on Feb 2, the money came out of my account on Feb 3, today is Feb 18 still no money order. They claim that they put it in on the mail by Feb 6 latest, however it gets mailed from Scarborough and I live in Pickering so you can understand why I question their veracity

    I very strongly recommend that no one ever order a bank draft online through PC financial (President’s Choice Bank), this is so stressful

  11. Nadi Says:

    I work for a real estate lawyer and PCF is a nightmare to deal with. If you need a bank draft for a home purchase whether it be the whole purchase or just your downpayment good luck getting it on time to close the deal. If you can’t close the deal the seller may extend (at your expense) but doesn’t have to. You open yourself up to the possibility of being sued, losing the home of your dreams or incurring huge costs associated with securing private funds for the few days it takes your PCF draft to arrive.

    And my advice is to go with someone else for your mortgage, PCF and CIBC suprisingly seem to have the worst customer service among the larger financial institutions. The other big lenders and even smaller trust companies, credit unions etc seem to have less issues.

  12. Shanna Says:

    Oh I am glad I found this. I am t-minus 1.5 weeks from closing on my new house. I bank with PCF, but my mortgage is through TD. I am a very organized person and I went into a kiosk a month ago to ask how I order a bank draft. So I know both options. At this point I will have to do the rush via CIBC but I am still waiting to hear the final tally from the lawyer so I can transfer funds and then call PC. I’m so stressed out!

  13. jenn Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe this is still an ongoing issue. As much as I do get a kick out of seeing people posting more than 4 years later, you’d think PC would have figured it out by now.

    Shanna, good luck with your house purchase! Smart move to go right to CIBC and at least save the headache of having to wait for PC to put things in the mail. Take deep breaths!

  14. Shanna Says:

    I will let you know how it goes. At this point I am more stressed out by the lawyer than the bank. I don’t close till June 3, so I have some time but definitely NOT enough time to wait for PC to put something in the mail. Honestly, I’m just a little stressball about all of this stuff these days…I don’t like that I am at the mercy of someone else doing their job efficiently. I do not enjoy time crunches.

    I would have to say that otherwise I have been very happy with PC since I started banking with them probably about 10 years ago. I enjoy the PC points and the no fees and the easy website. However, I purposefully did NOT get my mortgage through PC bc the idea of talking to a faceless person on the phone about my mortgage scared the crap out of me. I’d much rather build a relationship with a real live consultant. It’s the same reason I am going with an insurance broker for my home insurance (bundling my car with them) and dumping Belair. For me Belair was fine for just apartment and car insurance, but my home is more important and I need someone consistent to talk to. Even if they cost more.

  15. Mariella Says:

    Thanks Jenn for posting this blog. I was actually googling Bank draft pc… and almost going to ask for a bank draft as we are closing the house on Tuesday, so 6 days away. Thanks again. Will do it with my personal bank.

  16. jenn Says:

    You’re welcome! Congrats on the house.

  17. Erin G Says:

    I telephoned PC around 8 p.m. last night and requested a bank draft, and my local CIBC telephoned me early this afternoon to say it was ready to be picked up. The service charge seemed excessive, but I was impressed with the speed of the transaction.

    I’ve banked with President’s Choice for over 12 years, and I really can’t think of any problems.

  18. jenn Says:

    Maybe they’ve finally gotten their act together! I actually just processed my name change with them – and while google yielded horror stories about PC’s issues, I found the process had just been revamped and was quite painless! Super nice surprise.

  19. Vhon Says:

    I am so frustrated with PC i deposited an international check, until the amount was credited to my account, then suddenly they rejected it maybe theres some problem with the other bank for clearing until they debited the amount from my account but thats not a problem with me the problem was they debit the amount more than the amount they previously credited almost $180 more which PC deducted in addition of their service fee, their reason is because they followed the exchange rate and how can they still follow the exchange rate where in fact the int’l check didnt materialize which they rejected omg! They should just take away the money based on how much they put in to my account, I felt i was being robbed by PC! So frustrating instead your money will grow they deduct any amount just like that…..

  20. Kitz Says:

    I came across this blog while googling for PCF bank draft as we are closing on our house in 2 weeks.
    Just thought I’d leave an “updated” feedback here/

    Called their customer service Saturday morning, was informed that it will take 2 business day to be prepared, and we can pick it up at the nearest CIBC branch, but we can request for “rush” if we call back on Monday again.
    Fee is $27.50. They told me that this is the way they do it now, they don’t do the mail out option for $7.50 anymore.
    Called back Monday morning , was informed that it should be with the branch it 2 hrs time.
    Called CIBC Monday afternoon , was informed it isn’t ready yet.
    Called back Tuesday morning, was informed cheque is ready for pick up. (they should have called us , but I’m just assuming we just beat them to it)

    All in all, a smooth transaction. Make sure when you call, give the EXACT information (addresses, names, spelling, amounts) and have them confirm it back to you. Be prepared to provide the address of the CIBC branch you want to pick it up from, and give the exact name on the ID that the person picking it up will bring/ show.

    No problems with PCF for the 3 years I’ve been with them, I love the points, they rack up so fast especially with the PC Plus program.

  21. jenn Says:

    Thanks for the comment. Glad that they’ve finally figured out a system that works!

  22. Lars Says:

    Open a savings account at another big bank like TD and it is free. Use this free savings account for emergencies when you need to see a real person. You can even order cheques on a savings account. Always transfer your money over to a real bank when buying a house… do it weeks before you even purchase the house, just in case you need the money.

    Never leave your money in pc financial account when purchasing a house… and never leave it in a bank like ING or tangerine or ICICI either before purchasing a house. You can transfer the money to TD or another big bank for free using pc financial online transfers (they may limit you to about $50,000 per transfer, so be well prepared to do it in chunks weeks ahead if you need to). Or if you don’t want to do online transfer then write yourself a cheque on your pc financial account, and deposit it into your free TD savings account (or other big bank) at least 5 days ahead because the big bank will hold the money for 5 days. This all takes a bit of planning ahead – but NEVER leave hundreds of thousands of dollars in a pc financial account when you are buying a house! To save a few pennies on banking fees is obviously outsmarting yourself when you are making the biggest purchase of your life.

  23. Kurtis Says:

    I opened a new account with PCF on Friday. At the time, I was only thinking about how cool it will be since there are no fees. I didn’t think of a situation like this, where I’d need a large amount of money quickly. I think I’ll keep my TD and RBC accounts just in case. I still find virtual banking weird. I’m half perplexed that it can all be done through the machine and phone, and half paranoid (worried about identity theft). Fingers crossed. Jenn, do you still have your PC financial accounts? 🙂 I just found this post now, some 8 years after this post. lol

  24. jenn Says:

    Thanks for the comment Kurtis! I love how 8 years later this post still gets comments!
    Yes, I do still have my PC account… I now have accounts with another major bank where I do most of my banking, but I keep a balance in my PC account that I use for writing cheques (I write several a month still). No sense paying for those!
    One funny thing – at first I just had a savings account at the major bank, but PC only lets you connect to banks for which you have cheques. I ended up opening a chequing account with the major banks just to be able to transfer money between the two.

  25. Kurtis Says:

    “I just found this post now, some 8 years after this post. lol”
    That should have read “I just found this post now, some 8 years later”.

    One thing I wanted to add: I like PCF better than Tangerine, because with Tangerine I needed to write a cheque to myself to confirm my identity. But with PCF, I did it all right there at the ‘pavillion’. I actually closed my Tangerine account today… Never used it.

    So we’ll see how it goes.

  26. Jensen Says:

    Just use PC, or Simplii as they now call it, Financial for basic banking, and have an account at a bricks and mortar bank for services such as those pesky bank drafts! Set-up transferring between the accounts and voila, your problem is solved! A day-to-day account at RBC costs only $ 4 per month. Chicken feed if you ask me!

  27. Jenn Says:

    Thanks for the comment Jensen. Seems like you’ve figured it out. As for me, it took this experience to learn my lesson!

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