That lesson, courtesy of Scarlett and Shamus Lynsky: "If you don't have anything nice to say, you'd better not say anything at all."
The Lynskys, who are married, filled out comment cards at an annual members' meeting in March with the credit union's board of directors. They scribbled their concerns over increasing credit rates and the $1.6 million salary of CEO Cliff Dias, then checked a box requesting a response.
When no response followed a month later, Shamus fired off an email asking when they'd get answers. The emailed answer from Tom Glatt, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the 161,000-member credit union: "I am authorized to inform you that the Board has decided not to respond to your comments, as is their privilege.... I would like for you to call me directly so I can personally facilitate the closing of your accounts, and your membership." Glatt declined to discuss the matter with WW.
The Lynskys followed up with a request for a peek at the credit union's bylaws. This time, they got a letter from Daniel F. McNeil, a lawyer representing the credit union. "Your free speech rights do not include the right to make false or misleading statements about PTCU," it warns. "Please understand that PTCU...will not hesitate to pursue defamation or other business interference claims against you."
"The letter is self-explanatory," McNeil told WW. "I'm not at liberty to discuss it further."
The Lynskys are thinking of ending their business with the credit union, but doing so could be difficult. Along with several savings accounts, the credit union handles their mortgage and retirement CD. "This is a credit union with members that own a stake in it," Scarlett Lynsky says. "It's amazing that they've put up this brick wall."