Automobile Warranties & Car Companies

May 8, 2008

This post is about the new Mechanical Breakdown Protection available through Piedmont Credit Union.

I am the classic “do-it-yourself-er”. But when my wife’s Acura started having transmission problems late last year I started to think, “maybe I shouldn’t have hung up on those people who call and try to sell extended warranties?” Acuras are not cheap cars and neither are their parts. Did I mention the warranty had expired several thousand miles ago? So I made the dreadful trip to a nearby Acura dealership and nicely explained that I didn’t buy an Acura to see the transmission go bad so soon, and even though it was outside of any warranty coverage I humbly asked if they could help me out a little. What really impressed me was how they pretty much agreed that Acuras are one of the highest quality cars available and that it should not have had this type of problem at this point of it’s life. So Acura corporate agreed to discount the cost of the transmission but I would not have any further warranty on the discounted parts like they usually give. I was pretty satisfied because it appeared that I would be able to pay for these repairs without too much financial discomfort.

Now for all you readers who think the next part Acurais about how the dealership found other things wrong and boosted the price by a thousand dollars, I hate to disappoint you. When my wife picked up the car, the total price was $800 LESS than what they quoted me and it was going to come with a new 36,000 mile warranty! I’m now an Acura fan for life!

So what’s the moral of this story? I think it’s this: Consider purchasing an extended warranty for your vehicle. When you compare it’s cost to that of major repairs the choice is easy. Do the math.

New non-discounted transmission installed by dealer=$4,500.

Cost of Piedmont CU Mechanical Breakdown Protection=$1,565.

Mechanical Breakdown Protection is very affordable when seen from this point of view. Plans start around $900 and can cover almost any car that runs. You can read more about it on our main website here. Oh, if you decide to buy an Acura, just be sure to do your financing at the credit union!


Closed for Easter / Holiday Schedules

March 19, 2008

Piedmont Credit Union will be closed on Monday, March 24, 2008. (aka. the day after Easter)

Over the last two or three years our credit union has been adjusting it’s holiday schedule.  Last year it more closely followed the Federal Reserve’s holiday schedule.  In my experience working at smaller credit unions, I’ve found that often the credit union takes the same holidays as it’s sponsor company.  Being founded as a teacher’s credit union, it used to be that we closed the entire week of Christmas & New Year’s, just like schools!   Much to the chagrin of our beloved staff, those days are long gone.  But maybe next year we’ll ask the Board of Directors for Spring Break! 😉

e-Signatures Frequently Asked Questions

February 7, 2008

This week we began using our new fraud prevention and e-Signature System. Our staff has really picked up on it well, learning the subtle nuances of scanning driver licenses and resetting the occasional frozen signature pad.  What surprised me most about this new setup is that very few credit union members have asked any questions about it.  So here is my starter list of e-Signature questions and answers.

  1. Where does my signature go? Signatures are attached to an electronic copy of your receipt.  They are stored in a secure database which is only accessible by designated credit union staff.  In the past, signed receipts were stored in a box in our storage room.  The new electronic storage is actually much more safe and secure than the previous method.
  2. What else are you going to put my signature on? When a signature is captured electronically, it is actually merged to become a permanent part of the document you are signing, just as if you had sign an actual piece of paper.  Our e-Signature system does not have the ability to move your signature once you have tapped the “OK” on the signature pad.  At that point it is made permanent and can only be slightly re-sized for legibility.
  3. Why is my signature still on the pad when I’m ready to leave? Your signature will disappear from the pad as soon as our teller has completed the transaction.  The teller may have more work to do on your transaction such as scanning some kind of document relating to the transaction, such as a Power of Attorney or a Marriage Certificate.
  4. Why do you need to scan my ID? We’re required by law to accurately identify everyone who does business with us.  Since most of our members come in regularly, we know them pretty well and don’t need to request ID for each and every transaction.  By scanning ID’s into our computer system, we’re making it so that we don’t have to ask for ID in the future because we’ll already be able to see that you look like the ID we have on file.  So it not only saves time, it potentially eliminates any possibility of face to face fraudulent activity on your account. 
  5. Do you need to scan my driver’s license every time I do a transaction? No. Once we scan your ID the first time it is saved once and for all. This way we can pull it up on our screen every time you come back for a transaction and we can be sure it is you.
  6. Will this help make my money more secure? Yes. Having the ID quickly assessable by our computer system will ensure that no one can just walk in pretending to be you and try to transact business on your account.  In the long run it’s also faster than having to ask for ID and virtually eliminates face to face fraudulent activity.

The Power Went Out… Again!

July 10, 2007

Update 7-10-07 3:30pm: Power has been restored so the credit union is again open for full service.

Due to this afternoon’s storms the power is out up and down Piney Forest Road. As a result our main office is closed and our ATM is unavailable. Deposits can be made in the night drop and we’ll post them as soon as power is restored.(It could be tomorrow!) Our website,, and NetBranch(including Billpay) are still online and any electronic transactions on your account will continue without interruption. (Such as scheduled bill payments, Visa Check Card transactions, & Direct Deposits.) Telephone teller is also still available for inquiries on accounts at 1-877-768-5405.

It seems ironic that just this week we are revising our disaster plan. One of the revisions we’re considering will enable the credit union to at least run the drive-thru during an event like today’s power outage. Given that this is the third lengthly power outage in the last 11 months, I have a suspicion that we’ll be giving that some very serious consideration.

Update 7-10-07 3:30pm: Power has been restored so the credit union is again open for full service.

Nationwide ATM Locations

May 25, 2007

Piedmont Credit Union is part of a nationwide network of credit unions who waive each others ATM fees! There are more than 2,200 ATM’s at other credit unions across the country that PCU members may use completely for free up to three times per month. There are hundreds in Virginia alone. The network is called CUhere and there is an Online ATM Locator at (See screen shot at the end of this post)

So next time you plan a trip look to see if there are any ATM’s where you are going that you can use for free! Remember that when using the search tool, check the box that says CU Here Surcharge Free Program.

7 Ways to “Trick out” your NetBranch Experience

May 9, 2007

First of all I admit that I am probably just a bit too old to use the word “Trick out”. Recently after balancing my checkbook I looked into what options were present in PCU’s NetBranch. I was pleased to find some features that I think are worth mentioning. Here’s a brief description of them.

  1. Auto Transfers. This feature is self explaining. There are lots of ways to customize it with different frequencies, ending dates, and such. A great way to make sure your savings gets to savings before you spend it!
  2. Account Names. You can give friendly names to your accounts. This helpful for those of us who don’t think in account numbers. It’s also good if you have multiple children’s accounts that you send money to.(BTW:New kids club coming soon!)
  3. MFA Preferences. You can choose your own login graphic, passphrase, and questions. There are hundreds of images to choose from.
  4. Dial-up Options. If you have a slow Internet connection you can tell NetBranch not to show the standard graphics which makes it load a bit faster.
  5. BillPay Alerts. Here I found what I thought were the most intriguing customizable features. Our BillPay service has a nice e-Notification feature. It can send out alerts or status reports to your email or even to your mobile phone via a text message!
  6. BillPay Gift Reminders. You can use BillPay for much more than bills. Reminders can be setup for almost any occasion to remind you to send a gift.(Mother’s Day is this weekend!) There is also a pre-loaded list of popular charities.
  7. BillPay Startup Page. If you would rather not schedule payments to be made automatically, you might want your initial screen to be a list of your bills so you can quickly choose the one you want to pay. If you have all your bills pre-scheduled to be paid then you may want your BillPay start page to show a list of recent and pending payments which is the default setting. There is also a Calendar view option.

Just some ideas on how to make your NetBranch experience more personal and friendly. If you have any suggestions from your experience, or things to add that I might have missed, feel free to share them.

Power Outage

April 16, 2007

If you live in Southside VA today then you know there are some very high winds. As a result the power is out at the main Piedmont Credit Union office.

Here’s the good news! Our website including NetBranch and Online Billpay are unaffected by our local power outage. All Direct Deposits will continue with no interruption as will the ability to use your ATM or Visa Check Card(debit). The Telephone Teller is also still in operation at 1-877-768-5405.