A bank that found itself steeped in an optics disaster for firing two employees who helped a stranded customer on Christmas Eve has offered to reinstate the workers.
One of them was customer service representative Emily James, who drove to a gas station with her supervisor’s blessing to give stranded client Marc Eugenio $20.
His first paycheck from a new job held by the bank, he was unable even to buy gas to get home, let alone finish his Christmas shopping, The Oregonian reported.
“I was a customer of U.S. Bank, I needed help, and she went above and beyond,” Marc Eugenio of Clackamas, Oregon, told The Oregonian at the time. “I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me.”
James ventured out in person only after a fruitless hour spent trying to extricate Eugenio’s funds from a hold on Dec. 23, The Oregonian reported.
She told him to go to his local branch the next day – Christmas Eve – to explain it was his first paycheck from a new job, and entreat them to release the funds. But the manager there was on vacation, and employees said their hands were tied.
Just about out of gas, Eugenio drove to a filling station, stranded without the money. The hold continued.
Desperate, he redialed the bank’s 800 customer-care number and got James again. She obtained permission from her supervisor – Abigail Gilbert, who gave her the $20 – and sped the 14 miles to the gas station.
“I handed him $20 in cash, said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and went right back to work,” James told The Oregonian.
Five days later, she arrived at the office only to be greeted by the regional manager, who fired her, reported KGW-TV. Gilbert also lost her job.
Now the bank is backpedaling big-time. U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere called James personally and apologized, offering both women their jobs back.
“Our recent employment decision in Oregon did not reflect who we are as a company,” the bank said in a statement. “U.S. Bank fell short of our and others’ expectations, and we sincerely apologize.”
Gilbert agreed to return as a call center supervisor, and James was considering a new position, KGW said.
“We are committed to understanding how we can learn from these events and make the right changes so they do not reoccur,” the statement continued. “We are beginning a re-evaluation immediately of our policies and how they are applied to be certain they are flexible and put the customer first, while remaining consistent with our obligation to safeguard customer assets and ensure the safety of our employees.”