Friday, September 30, 2011

What the hell, #BoA???

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(I'm all over the place today because I can't really talk right now and I'm trying to get as much down as possible, as quickly as possible...)
So. Bank of America. Way to piss me off yet again. If this goes through, you can guarantee that you'll lose many customers, myself included. (Yeah, label this post Woes of the Yuppie/Yippie. [sigh]) Just... what the hell are you thinking? A MONTHLY FEE? Charging your existing customers a monthly fee for what was once a free service, without any choice in the matter? Of COURSE we're getting the hell out of there. I can't afford to lose $5 a month for services I don't even get or care about, for a student checking account, when I have free accounts that won't charge me at all-- and are with more reliable, and more trustworthy, institutions.

Thankfully, there is plenty of outrage over this from all "sides of the aisle." And the Consumer's Union has outlined this lovely little guide to Moving Your Money. (Which reminds me - I have $2.66 in a bank that has since changed names and owners at least twice. I should probably close that account. Haven't used it in at least a decade... Do I get interest? No? Ok... Oh look, and that bank's about to start charging fees too. Am I going to owe them now? Fuck that.)

Anyway, why am I bringing this up, other than the fact that I'm pissed and I want to rant at them? Occupy Wall Street. Doesn't this seem EXACTLY like the kind of thing we're all fighting? And maybe this seems like a small amount of money to some-- but you have the luxury and privilege to think that way. Do not deny that it's privilege; do not even think for a second that it's not. Being able to GET to an ATM? Can definitely be privilege. Having access to a computer or even a phone to transfer funds to a bank that doesn't charge fees? Privilege. (Having a bank account with the option of online access? Yeah, I'd say that's privilege too, though I wonder)  Oh, and guess what? This is only for "regular" customers -- not the wealthiest top 2 tiers. (College students will also be exempt.) Isn't that exciting and different?

$5 a month  = $60 a year. That's $60 a year that should have gone towards bills, or food, or clothes or school tuition. Oh, but that's not just it - that's $60 extra BECAUSE money went towards those things, and because someone couldn't get to a Bank of America ATM or did not have enough cash on hand. And if they had used any other ATM? $3.00 fee from BoA, plus whatever fees the other bank charges - which is likely to be another $3-5. And sometimes there are fees on top of that too-- I'm lucky enough to not have monthly fees because I opened a student account, but many of the other checking accounts have a $12/month fee...

Do they have ANY idea of the consequences fees like this have on lower income individuals? Believe me, sometimes that $5 is everything. That $5 determined whether or not I ate for a few days. Maybe I should start with my experience. There are no BoA ATMs within walking distance. There are really no ATMs within walking distance that are associated with one of the bigger banks, and definitely none without usage fees. So my debit card is pretty much my ONLY connection to my money. All of my student loan bills? Directly from my bank account. Using my debit card if I'm late or I have to call the bill in. And no, it doesn't count as "online bill pay." Debit card. All online shopping? Debit card. Yes, I'm making more money now, but $5 a month just to use what always has been and should be a standard part of a checking account?? It's like paying $5 a month to use a key.

So - bad business practice? I certainly think so. Discouraging customers from using a service you provide? LOL no really. Try again.

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