Meriden Woman, Education Advocate Questions Bank's Bias After Alleged Incident

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A Meriden woman is speaking out after she said her business was valued differently at one bank branch and not another.

She's questioning whether it was because of the color of her skin.

Gwen Samuel, the founder of the CT Parent’s Union, said she stopped into the Southington TD Bank on 900 Queen St. to take out cash a couple of days after the First Lady visited Meriden on March 3.

She said she needed to pay a photographer for an education-for-all event her association held that day.

But now she’s questioning that bank's acceptance of all customers, when despite being a member she was turned away.

Samuel said the teller told her, ‘I can’t give you the money. I don’t feel comfortable serving you.’

She said the woman asked her about a check she had cashed the day before.

“She said, ‘Didn’t you just get a deposit a check?’ I said yes, but it said it’s cleared, and she is acknowledging that there’s nothing wrong with the account,” said Samuel, who said she absolutely understands if there was a real issue with the account, but she said she was told there wasn’t.

Samuel said she left and tried the Southington ATM to see what would happen and she was easily able to get out cash.

Then, she went to another TD Bank in Bristol and made a withdrawal there with no problems.

“I just had to make sure I am not overreacting because we’re such a racial tense time right now, so I just wanted to give the benefit of the doubt, but that doubt went away when I got the money from the ATM and Bristol.”

Samuel said she’s waited some time to bring this to the public because she was hoping it was an issue that would be resolved quickly, but she said she’s never heard from TD Bank despite making a complaint.

NBC Connecticut reached out to TD Bank about what Samuel said happened. They sent us this statement:

"At TD Bank, we proudly serve diverse communities and customers and do not discriminate in the services we provide or the products we offer.  The security of our customers' accounts is a top priority and we regret that the specific reasons why the transaction could not be completed may not have been explained to Ms. Samuel at our Queen Street store in Southington. Due to privacy concerns, we cannot discuss the account activity of particular customers, although we can confirm that the customer's transaction was completed at another TD store in the vicinity.  We regret that Ms. Samuel did not have a positive experience, which is what we strive to provide, and that she did not receive a satisfactory explanation regarding her transaction. We are contacting her to review her transaction and to understand and address her concerns."

“People say ‘close your account,’ I said then the practice still can happen. How about I keep it there and we work together?” said Samuel, who says she wants this to be a teachable moment for the bank to make corporate culture change.

“We just have to teach people with respect and everything. Whatever the rules are. If the rules are OI can’t take the money out—fine, but that wasn’t that case. You didn’t feel like serving me. And, they didn’t tell me to this date why they didn’t feel like serving me my own money.”

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