Bank of Tyranny: In Brief

I’m in the process of canceling my checking account with Bank of America and have decided to bank with the Harvard University Employees Credit Union (HUECU). Why? Because I think Bank of America has fees that basically filch money from those who live check by check – those who need the $12/month fee the most – without regard for their customers’ strained financial positions.

The 230 year old Bank of America (originally called Massachusetts Bank) predates the inauguration of the first president of the United States. No doubt, its beginning is steeped in bright-eyed belief, handshakes, and personal connections. But when I Google search “Bank of America housing market crash” articles like this inform me that, “in 2008, employees were pressured to process as many mortgage evaluations as possible in order to maximize profits” and that there existed Bank of America employees whose jobs were to, ” “basically validate the loans” instead of reviewing them to find any potential flaws.”

Remember B of A’s e-Checking Account? The one with no monthly minimum balance requirement? Well, it’s not longer available. It used to be that people could sign up for the e-Checking Account, and presumably that meant less work on the bank’s part and less fees on our part. In retrospect, “e-Checking” seems like a promo in sheep’s clothing. Step 1: Convince many people to sign up for free e-Checking. This will attract many customers and accrue good will. Step 2: After a certain amount of time, remove e-Checking from available accounts. Even old customers who used to have e-Checking can no longer start another e-Checking account. Step 3: Charge all customers with new checking accounts fees, even with the added efficiency of the new, internet age. Leave no option for free-fee, or even low-fee checking.

Tell me folks, what the f*ck is the difference between the “e-Checking” account and EVERY account for pretty much EVERY bank today? There is no different. They’re all electronic checking accounts. But B of A has still continued to charge monthly fees on all of their newly disguised e-Checking accounts, so it made me wonder why “e-Checking” went MIA on all of us.

Okay – so maybe they have new costs to consider. Maybe they have servers to buy, and programmers to hire, and digital security to keep up.

But what really gets me going is this: They charge the poorest people those fees. Oh – you have less that $1,500 in your account? Clearly you live paycheck to paycheck. Let’s charge you a fee. You don’t have enough money to pay for a decent lawyer to sue us. We can always say that we … uh … need to charge a fee to keep up your account because – hmm – the return on investment of your money in the market will not compensate us in the proper proportion.

That’s a valid enough reason, but I’m still going to tell you to go suck an egg.

Why in the hell are you taking the little bit of money that a struggling single mother or retired school teacher needs to get by? There has to be a better solution than to take from those who need it most.

I’m in my mid-20s and at the nascent stage of my professional life. I won’t have to worry about monthly minimum balance fees soon enough. But those less fortunate than me will still pay $12 a month, and I can’t ignore the fact that our country had a childhood starvation problem. Look it up. It’s real. Those families could use a few more bucks a month. So only partially in self-interest, I’ve decided to move my money to the Harvard University Employees Credit Union, where the most basic account has no fees.

Find a bank with a free checking option. Do it this week. Maybe a local bank, with owners who still care about personal connection. If you live on the East, one of my co-workers recommends Eastern Bank.

Yours,

Aruna

P.S. Thanks for this video Earl (writtenwater). Awesome Louis C.K. joke:

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