Living in Chicago, there are a lot of small differences from the UK that you notice: the signs, the prominence of advertising, the dress sense. There are a lot of myths that people have about the US from television and most of them are untrue. One that I’ve found is definitively true is the level of service.

Table service in bars is standard. My wife attended a gig a few months ago and the barmaid was coming to her in the middle of the crowd to serve her drinks. I was in the supermarket a few days ago and asked a shop assistant for help. He dropped what he was doing and spent 5 minutes helping me look for an obscure product. Whilst he was helping me, I overheard another customer ask a shop assistant for help. He told her he had one out the back and actually ran to go get it. A quick comparison with your local Tesco doesn’t do the UK any favours.

Where the difference is most apparent is my local bank, a Chase. When I first went in there to open an account, they organised the times around me. Half way through the sign up process the bank manager came across to talk to me and introduce himself and gave me his mobile to contact him if I had any feedback (I also have the direct number for my banker).

I should point out that I was opening a normal everyday account. This was just normal for them to do for a new customer. Our banker Angel will come to say hello if he sees me using the ATM outside. They allows dogs in the building to make it easier for customers to visit. The opening hours are worked around when it’s easier for customers to come in (after wor hours and Saturdays) rather than what hours the employees want to do.

When I compare this to the experience at any UK bank, the difference is astounding. Their goal always seemed to be to get as much money from me as they could, whatever upsells they could get away with, at a minimum risk to the bank and with the least effort possible.

Why are UK banks so awful in comparison to US ones? They both exist in oligopolistic markets with very high barriers to entry. The UK banks are pretty much all at an equal standard and none are near what I’ve experienced with Chase. I don’t know the answer. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. In the US there is a culture of good service and people expect it. Chase are asking to have my money so they can use it to make more money, why wouldn’t they be nice… Ask Natwest.