This morning I scanned an article on how Bank of America should respond to the outrage from their customers about the new $5 monthly debit card usage fee. In the article, Sean Williams of CommunicationAMMO was quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of hassle involved in switching banks, he says, adding that inertia will keep lots of customers where they are.”
I disagree strongly, yet sadly have to agree with some of his statement. It doesn’t have to be a huge hassle to switch banks. Of course, I’d recommend switching to a credit union, but that’s another story. Because this is a competitive industry, financial institutions will do the legwork to get you. How they treat you once the marriage is made, well, that too is another story. But they will make it as easy and hassle-free as possible to move to them. And even as BOA is fumbling the ball, many others have their hands in place to scoop it up and run. For example, I just watched a community credit union commercial showing the debit fee as the last straw and tooting how they have fee-free checking.
But, here’s where I’m forced to agree with him. Yep, inertia. People are busy, but mostly, people are lazy. Financial stuff isn’t fun like Facebook. Sitting down, making time for it, well, Netflix is so, so much more desirable. Or Twitter. Or soccer games or doing the dishes and mopping the floor…well. He’s right. Right now the Wall Street protests are going strong and spreading. People are angry. There’s a fire in their belly. But this is new America, with people that have the attention span of gnats. Wait, I think gnats actually have long attention spans. Anyway, how long will this passionate outrage last?
This reminded me of when I worked in PR at a college. Something had outraged the students. I don’t remember exactly what it was now, but the students decided to shut down the administration building and lock us in. As I was pretty well liked by students, they were kind enough to give me a heads up that this was going to happen. At the appointed time they did exactly what they said they would. Around early evening the protest suddenly fizzled. We went to find out what happened from the handful of students who remained. It was dinner time. Hunger pangs had felled our modern day student protesters. 😐
If the Belles of Bennett College (my alma mater) and the Aggies of NC A&T State University of the 1960s had let hunger end the sit-in at Woolworth, where would I be today? I digress.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope the anger and outrage grows into a movement. I hope that people do follow up and find the alternatives that are out there like credit unions or small community banks. Sometimes jobs require people to direct deposit to a certain bank. If you aren’t one of those people, walk your talk. Figure out where to go and go. Stop letting huge corporations hold us over a barrel while the executives and boards rake in the big bucks for themselves, not even their workers. Their workers pay isn’t increasing and jobs are being cut. Yet, when did you hear of BOA or its board members or shareholders cutting back, too? They blame government regulation for them raising or implementing new fees. But they sure were happy to let the government, e.g. American Citizens tax money, give them money to bail them out. Mmm hmm.
As for me, I hate focusing on financial stuff. With a PASSION! But when Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) started charging me a fee, I gathered up my chips and moved on. SunTrust did the same to me sending a letter about a new checking account fee. I shut them right on down. And Chase will be the next to go now that I’m building history with a new credit card company. I didn’t let the inertia stop me. I paused my k-drama on Netflix, hopped off Twitter, and yes drove to a branch to shut ’em down. (And yeah that Public Enemy song was playing in my head all the way over there.)