“All of a sudden the door opened,” she said. Her banker told her she had escalated Ms. Choplet’s file and that the bank would take her application manually. Ms. Choplet said she called the branch manager who had earlier told her repeatedly that no applications were being accepted and asked him if he had known they could be done by hand, in person. He said yes.
“I was speaking directly to someone looking into my eyes and telling me, ‘We’re not ready,’” she said. “He lied.” Ms. Choplet didn’t get the loan because the money ran out, but her banker will put in an application once new funds are released.
Laurie Kight, a Santander spokeswoman, said the bank could not comment on specific customers. “Unfortunately, we, like other banks, were unable to help every customer who expressed interest in obtaining a loan from the initial funds Congress appropriated,” Ms. Kight said.
She added that Santander was “working around the clock to expand our processing capacity to be prepared to help as many more customers as possible seek loans when additional funding becomes available.”
At U.S. Bank, bankers were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of applications, each of which required an employee to individually review and verify the borrower’s financial details. A group inside the bank came up with a shortcut for the most lucrative business clients: It put together a dedicated team to handle those V.I.P. customers’ applications. That team processed applications much faster than rank-and-file workers could, according to a person familiar with the bank’s operations.
A U.S. Bank spokesman declined to comment.
At First Horizon Bank, wealthy customers got personal assistance from loan officers. Only about half of $1.6 billion the bank distributed under the program went to small-business customers, according to a spokeswoman, like hair salons and restaurants. Of the 5,500 loans the bank made, the spokeswoman said, 47 percent went to privately owned midsize businesses, a category that could include law firms.
“All of our customers received personal assistance,” said the spokeswoman, Silvia Alvarez.