Banks are shrugging off the (at least) 700,000 accounts they've lost the last six weeks and claim they don't want your business:
[T]he banks are going to be better off because they are getting rid of their least-profitable or not profitable clients. It helps them stem this tsunami of cash that's been flowing in that they don't know what to do with.
But not only do they relentlessly advertise for new business on billboards, TV, direct mail and other places, but they fight tooth and nail to prevent people from closing their accounts. The Daily Kos community and others have chronicled many such efforts, so follow me below the fold for ten of these awesome stories.
- "He has a right to speak," said the cop to the banker
When Daily Kos community member marvinborg was distributing flyers outside of local Chase and Bank of America branches encouraging customers to move their money to credit unions, one of the managers called the police on him. When they arrived, the police promptly told the manager off:
"He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here - please don't call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don't like free speech you should move to another country."
- "You can't be a customer and a protester at the same time."
At a Bank of America branch in Santa Cruz, the manager locked two customers inside a branch as they were trying to close their accounts, and then called the police on them. Supposedly, this was because they were wearing signs. When the police showed up, they didn't arrest anyone, and were just as baffled as the customers:
- "They're arresting everyone?"
At a Citibank in New York City, a customer actually was forcibly arrested when she tried to enter the bank to close her account:
- "Let them in!"
At a Bank of America in St. Louis, security refused to allow customers who wanted to close their accounts inside:
- The bank said "You'll be back."
Even when banks don't call the police, they can give customers sound like jilted boyfriends:
At Wells Fargo, my sister walked up to the teller and politely asked to close her account. The teller said, "No problem." She pulled up her account and saw the balance and told her that due to the amount she had to speak with the branch manager. The branch manager came out. He was probably 30 years old and was very arrogant. He asked my sister why she wanted to close her account and my sister told him she thought Wells Fargo was part of the problem with the economy. He went thru some talking points about why she shouldn't move her money, but my sister didn't back down. When he asked her where she was going she told him that she would be banking at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union. She isn't a state employee, but anyone can join if you are related to a state employee. It turns out her husband is. Anyway, the bankster told her "You'll be back. Credit unions can't provide the services you need." We'll see about that. She withdrew over $200k from Wells Fargo. [Emphasis added]
- "Management is nervous"
In the midst of begging customers not to leave, every once in a while banks can let it slip just how scared they are:
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. [Emphasis added]
The fees were reversed soon after this was posted.
- They're offering cash for customers to open up accounts
It's silly to argue that they don't want cash deposits, yet they're offering cold, hard cash for those who will, well, deposit cash.
There's a lot of fine print involved, but basically, they will pay me $200 to move my checking account to them provided that:
1) I make one bill payment through the account each month
2) The account has a balance of $10,000 as of 1/20/2012
3) I wait 'till April for the $200 (giving me about 4% interest on my $10k)
4) I don't close my credit card account
5) I don't violate of any of their nit-picky procedures in the fine print
6) They don't decide to simply screw me and not pay up: "Bank of America may change or terminate this offer before this date without notice..."
Well! I had been told that banks didn't need deposits. I guess that's not true, otherwise why would they be running (cough, cough) to sign me up - and offering cold hard cash as well?
- They're pretending it's no big deal
You know there's something happening when they're circulating talking points.
In a truly random set of circumstances I found myself stopping by three separate Wells Fargo locations yesterday [...]
[Branch 1:] While we were making small talk, I casually asked, "So, how many people closed out accounts this weekend?"
The cashier said, "Oh it was just two or three people. Not many at all." [...]
[Wells Fargo embedded in Whole Foods:] While chatting it up, I asked, "So, how many people closed out their accounts here on Saturday? "
The Teller said, "Just two or three people closed their accounts. Only two said it was because of Bank Transfer Day." [...]
[Branch 2:] I was talking to Mr. Branch Manager2 while I was getting the passport, I casually said, "So, how many people closed their accounts on Saturday?"
Mr. Branch Manager2 said, "Oh, it was just 2 or 3 people. They had very small amounts of money with us." [...]
Was there a corporate wide memo with talking points? I don't have any proof but it does make me wonder how only "...2 or 3 people" closed their accounts at three different Wells Fargo...
- They'll fight tooth and nail for empty accounts
It doesn't even matter if a checking account is in use. They'll do everything possible to keep people from closing them.
I didn't even know he was talking with BoA, but when he had repeated the entire chain of circumstances for the fourth or fifth time, to the same person, getting louder each time, I knew something was definitely screwy. I mean, this is an account that had never held any actual balance. Had never had any checks written. For years. And never would.
Why the hell would a bank want to keep it open?
Eventually my schedule caught up with me and I had to leave, with Ed still bellowing the same story into the phone over and over. I was able to come back an hour or so later, after he was finally off the phone, and asked if that happened to be BoA.
Well, yes, of course it was.
- Offering to refund obnoxious fees ... after the fact.
They wouldn't be in this mess if they didn't try to bleed people in the first place.
"Is everything OK with your account and service?"
Well, yes, except for the fact that I'm charged ten dollars a month for the privilege of having a checking account here. (We used to have free checking, but Chase implemented the fee about a year ago if our balance went below $1500. Man, we were lazy and complacent, but not today!)
"Let me see, yes, it seems you paid a fee... 3 times? So only $30."
Yes, only $30... but it's the principle. It's the greed that is annoying.
"Well, you've been with us for many years, here is what I can do. I can temporarily... uh, permanently waive any future fees. We really value our relationship with you and want to keep you as a customer."
It seems like if Chase had called me before I came down here to close my account and made that offer that it would seem genuine, but not only after I'm already here to close my account. Which I would like to do.
"Well, we could also refund those fees. We would really like to retain your business."
I'm going to be opening up an account with a local credit union.
And how do the banks respond? By lashing out angrily at its customers.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says the public needs to start thinking before they criticize his company.
People have given it plenty of thought. That's why hundreds of thousands are moving their money when really, doing so is a pain in the ass--you've got to deal with uncleared checks, automatic bill pays and recurring payments, direct deposits and old habits (whether it's navigating your banks online site, or knowing where the branches and ATMs are located).
Wall Street is out at least $60 billion and counting, and we can inflict more pain. Let's truly make Brian Moynihan and his CEO buddies squeal. Please share this post with your friends, and if you have not already done so, Move Your Money.