This story is a couple of weeks old, but it continues to get legs, and is being picked up by major media, so it bears talking about.
Arianna Huffington, the media pundit/powerhouse behind HuffingtonPost.com, suggested in an article that consumers could take some control back — and send a powerful message to the big banks — by, en masse, closing their accounts at large banks and moving their money to smaller, community-based banks.
Having experienced firsthand how Bank of America has consistently and continuously looked for every possible way to screw over its customers, and how radically their philosophy has changed over the past 10 years, I can wholeheartedly endorse this idea.
This fits in perfectly with what I think of as “pre-emptory unscrewing”; the idea that we can take steps to avoid being screwed by severing relationships with companies where, over time, it’s become clear that they have a consistent pattern of finding every possible way of stealing or otherwise taking advantage of their customers.
The sad thing is, I suspect the vast majority of Bank of America customers don’t even realize how badly they are being screwed; it is not unlike the story of putting a frog in cold water and slowly bringing it up to a boil, and the frog not noticing and allowing himself to be boiled to death.
Bank of America was, at one time, a great bank, with amazing customer service and honest practices. It started going downhill after the large merger with NationsBank in the 1990s. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, they started changing policies, reducing services, adding fees. Their customers went along, either not noticing, or assuming that all other banks did similar things.
But within the past couple of years, the changes have gotten more and more blatant, and more and more anti-consumer. In future posts, I will detail some examples, and I encourage other readers to contact me to share examples of other banks doing the same things.
Arianna Huffington’s point, though, is a larger one. Not only are we constantly getting screwed and stolen from by these large banks, but after screwing us over, the banks are then going to OUR government and getting OUR tax dollars to lend out to us to screw us over more. And using OUR money and the myriad bogus fees that they’ve stolen from us to lobby Congress to avoid the enacting of laws to protect us.
By moving our money out of these large, unscrupulous banks, we can help to make the smaller community banks and credit unions stronger, we can more likely ensure that our money stays within our community, and we are also less likely to see our money used to lobby against our needs.
I strongly suggest that if you haven’t read Arianna’s post, you take the time to do so, and seriously consider taking steps to get your funds out of the Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and other large banks, and into smaller local institutions. Individually, we are unscrewing ourselves proactively from the continuous rip-offs that we are experiencing from the large banks. And as enough people start doing this, we collectively begin to change the banking industry, and encourage an environment where honest dealing is once again a common thing.