Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two Notes

1. Banks Looking For New Cheats?
We've known that big banks are thinking up new fees to stick us with to try to make up for some of the usury they can no longer practice. Well, yesterday Bank of America tried to stick me with a pretty lame one. I noticed that $20 had been deducted from my checking account for some bogus "monthly maintenance fee." I won't even bore you with their explanation for this, but I got the $20 credited back to me.

Point is: Be on the lookout. The banks are losing an estimated $50 billion as the new credit card rules go into effect. Who knows how much more they're going to lose from:

a) Other proposed regulations (reinstate Glass-Steagall, anyone?),
b) Other reforms (like breaking up "too big to fail" banks),
c) Consumer action (like people breaking up with their banks),
d) Obama's bank tax.

They're not going to take this sitting down. For now, they're able to make less money off your credit card, so they're going to try to make it up in your checking or savings accounts. They'll always have some excuse for a random fee that appears out of nowhere. So you might want to keep a closer eye on things. It saved me $20.

(BTW, I'm still moving out of Bank of America and into a credit union, which I still recommend. But BofA is able to hit me on the way out.)

2. BTM Programming Note
I'm going to be out of town for almost two weeks, so my blogging will be sporadic at best for a little while. I'm looking forward to returning in full force around the end of next week. It sure seems like a number of major issues are at critical points right now--backlash to the SCOTUS decision, health care reform, financial regulation, the administration's populist shift, Democrats' 2010 worries. (Man, my news addiction is gonna be hurting these next couple of weeks.) Anyway, keep the home fires burning. And keep up the good fight.


Camp Papa said...

It seems that corporate executives and members of boards of directors must feel that, when acting corporately, they are not held to the same standard of ethical behavior that we claim to be the norm. I've heard executives say that they are serving the cause of increasing value for the share holder. Often the greater good of the society, common decency, and even the real best interest of their share holders are ignored.

(Appropriately, my verification word is "crazed".)

Becky said...

Dave! Don't gooooo! And that is crazy about the $20 fee. Like, it is a calculation, somewhere, to just try a bunch of this shit and figure that a certain percentage of people will never notice. I am sure of it.

Veronica said...

Dude, we got that out-of-nowhere fee too, except it was $40 a month, for a "monthly maintenance" on a SAVINGS account that we opened recently and then DID NOT SPEND ANY MONEY FROM, and earned something like $.02 interest for the same month. I called, and was like, "I'm wondering what this account fee is for?" and the guy was immediately like, "Oh, let me take that off for you." Like Becky said, I think they just stick it on everyone, and wait to see if people notice. Jerks.

Amy said...

That is TOTALLY what they do. I think phone companies do that, too. We got rid of our landline when we were in the States cause we were so sick of that.

Dave--c'mon, don't leave us! Don't they have internets where you're going??

Dave said...

WOOHOO! I found TUBES out here in the hinterland! BTM lives!

Wasn't sure if there'd be reliable internet where I'm staying, but the WiFi here is probably better than what I get at home.

Anyway, yes, I'm sure these random-ass fees are calculated. It's sort of a variation on the old business maxim that a company wants to charge you as much as you're willing to pay for its product but not so much that you'll walk away. That's why they usually make it easy to remove these fees. They don't wanna fight over it; they were just trying you out. But if you don't notice the fees--or don't think it's worth it to sit on the phone for half an hour fixing it--then you must be willing to pay more. Or so goes the bank's evil calculation.