Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bleeding the banks

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 1:19 PM

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A reminder that smart protest can affect change, the Bank Transfer Day movement won a victory this week when the large banks backed off the $5 monthly fee for debit cards that helped spark the unrest.

From the AP:

After seeing the public reaction, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., SunTrust Banks Inc., and Regions Financial Corp. all backed down from plans to charge monthly fees for debit card purchases. Bank of America was the last major bank to backtrack on its plans when it scrapped its fees on Tuesday.

What did it take to force these "too-big-to-fail" institutions to change course? Losses:

An estimated 40,000 people joined credit unions on “Bank Transfer Day” last Saturday, bringing $80 million in deposits with them and likely breaking the record for new membership, according to the results of an industrywide survey released yesterday.

Angered by mounting bank fees, Los Angeles art gallery owner Kristen Christian set up a Facebook event page last month encouraging people to switch their accounts from large corporate banks to small local banks or credit unions on Nov. 5.

Yesterday, Washington's Blog reveled in the news, tracking down some fantastic anecdotes from people who participated by closing their checking and savings accounts — in one more than one instance, making bank managers sweat:

The manager was pleasant enough and very direct. After introducing herself she flat out asked "What can we do to change your mind?" "We don't want to see you go" she emphasized. This opened a door for me to further explain my decision to leave the bank and why I was doing it. Amazingly, it did not fall on deaf ears. She indicated that understood where I was coming from and actually showed genuine surprise at some of the facts I provided her about the less than consumer friendly policies and machinations of her employer. She did make some feeble counter-arguments and repeatedly asked me if I would change my mind (with a hint of desperation!). I stood firm and by the end of our conversation she asked if I would be willing to put it all in writing so she could send it up the chain.

She shared that management is nervous, they are seeing money leaking out of the bank and realize that they have made mistakes. She even hinted that there has been high-level discussion on reversing the new fess since there has been so much consumer push-back.

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