Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Digital Equipment Corporation - DCU

The Digital Federal Credit Union, which goes by “DCU,” had its beginnings in 1979 when DEC was in the process of transferring people from Maynard to a new factory in Westminster, 30 miles west on Route 2. Complaints got back to Ken Olsen that people were having a hard time getting house mortgages. After discussions with Human Resources, a decision was made to create a credit union that would charge less than the going rate for home loans and pay better interest on savings. Interestingly, this echoed services that the woolen mill had offered under the Maynard family during the 19th century. Back then there was no bank in Maynard; employees could earn interest by creating accounts funded by money deducted from their pay.

Today, DCU has outlived Digital by 21 years. The headquarters are in Marlborough. It is the largest credit union headquartered in New England, with over 863,000 members and management of assets in excess of eight billion dollars. Per DCU’s website: “The credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative providing financial banking services to multiple member groups, but primarily serves communications and utilities employees. Membership is also open to immediate family of current members.” The nearest branch office to Maynard is in the Stop-and-Shop plaza, in Acton. No-charge ATMs are located inside CVS and 7-11.

The credit union logo
DCU offers a variety of financial services typically offered by financial institutions, including savings and checking accounts, and IRAs. DCU also offers its members home mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, boat loans, business loans, credit cards, debit cards and insurance services. Checking accounts have no required minimum nor monthly fees, on-line access and bill paying. Savings accounts are federally insured.

The DCU vision – “All Members Achieve Their Financial Goals Collaboratively” – means it wants to be catalyst and cheerleader for members’ long-term financial success. DCU feels strongly that integrity is the most important aspect of what it is, and stands by three principles that guide the decisions and behavior of everyone at DCU: 1) People Come First; 2) Do the Right Thing; and 3) Make a Difference. The second, especially harks back to a guiding principle that stood Digital Equipment Corporation in good stead for so many years.

And now for the bad news. A check at YELP for consumer reviews of DCU found scores upon scores of one-star reviews, many stating that they had actually wanted to rate their experience as zero stars. Complaints were about both in-bank and on-line services. Often, after long time on phone-hold, the person answering did not know how to solve the problem and could not forward the caller to a person who might. At banks, rudeness ruled. In the summer of 2019 DCU settled a class-action lawsuit for $1.8 million for accusations that it had triggered overdraft fees by delaying action on deposits while at the same time speedily processing debit card charges.       

The first mention of banking services in Maynard pre-dates 1900. The Assabet Manufacturing Company, under management by Lorenzo Maynard, allowed employees and ex-employees to have money in interest-earning savings accounts. When the company went bankrupt in January 1, 1899, deposits were $132,000. According to the centennial history book, on August 12, 1899, assignees managing the distribution of mill assets paid the depositors 25%, and then on February 23, 1990, an additional 35%. There were rumors at the time that the mill owners and Maynard family had diverted funds before the bankruptcy, and that Lorenzo Maynard, realizing that the end was drawing nigh, signed over mill property estimated at $250,000 to protect himself when the crash came. Such was the animosity that in 1902 there was a concerted effort to change the name of the town from Maynard to Assabet. The State Legislature voted to not let the question come to a local vote – Maynard remained Maynard.

Assabet Institute for Savings, the first bank in Maynard, opened on April 29, 1904. Maynard Trust Company began operations in 1913, and soon after had a building on Main Street. It later merged with Middlesex County National Bank. Approaching Maynard’s 150th anniversary, the town is served by Middlesex Bank and Citizens Bank, both on Nason Street. Bank of America had a Nason Street branch office in Maynard starting in 1947, recently closed.

Not in the newspaper: In October 2004, DCU (Digital Federal Credit Union) and the City of Worcester entered into a naming rights partnership at $5.2 million for ten years, to rename the arena and convention center to the DCU Center Arena & Convention Center. Naming rights later extended to 2025. Originally Worcester Centrum Centre, opened 1982, convention center added 1997. Renovated several times since.

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