10 Reasons Bank of America Is the Most Hated Bank in America
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There is no shortage of hatred for the biggest banks. Indeed, the Occupy Wall Street movement is leading a national revolution against these byzantine, powerful Goliaths for the economic devastation they have caused. This makes it difficult to choose the worst of the bunch. That said, a strong case can be made that Bank of America deserves the title of the nation's most despised bank.
Here are ten reasons to take your money out of Bank of America - and park it at a credit union or community bank near you. (And yes, that may be near impossible if you have a mortgage with them, as refinancing away from any big bank nowadays is a nightmare.)
1. B of A rejects the right of customers to protest. When two Occupy Santa Cruz protesters in California marched into a local Bank of America to close their accounts, the response was, "You cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time," followed by a threat to call the police if the women didn't leave. (The attending officer later reiterated the bank manager's message.) Meanwhile, the fact that Bank of America charges a fee for closing an account prompted Rep. Brad Miller (D-North Carolina), who resides in Bank of America's headquarters state, to introduce a bill to protect customers from such fees.
2. To recoup ongoing losses from its stupendously dumb acquisitions of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch, B of A pillages its customers. Thus, despite massive public outrage, the $5 debit usage fee for customers with less than a $5,000 balance and no mortgage with the bank will begin in 2012. B of A was the first large bank to confirm it would charge this fee, which is the highest in current discourse among the banks.
On October 18, Consumers Union wrote a letter to B of A chief Brian Moynihan asking him to reconsider this fee, which impacts poorer clients disproportionately. The letter summed it up nicely: "Consumers should not be required to pay a costly fee that appears to be arbitrary and designed to generate income to make up for Bank of America's bad business decisions rather than covering the costs of providing debit card services." Banks collect 24 cents from retailers for each customer swipe, much more than the median 8 cents it costs a bank to process the purchase. Senator Dick Durbin's (D-Illinois) response was to urge customers: "Vote with your feet. Get the heck out of that bank."
3. B of A's other fees are just as bad. According to its last annual report, the bank has 29.3 million active online subscribers who paid over $300 billion worth of bills in 2010. In May, B of A raised its checking account fees, which included e-banking, to $12, in line with JP Morgan Chase's decision to do the same, up from $8.95 per month. In June, it started a $35 overdraft fee, even on overdrafts of one cent. Next year, it will incorporate basic checking with a new "essentials'' account structure that makes monthly fees unavoidable, that will not include free bill pay, and that has a mandatory $6 minimum fee.
Last Monday, Bank of America was charged (along with JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo) with colluding with the two major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, to keep ATM fees high; in other words, they were charged with "price-fixing," in direct opposition to antitrust laws. This is the third of three such suits filed recently, each seeking class action status.
4. Bank of America takes gross advantage of the military.