Can Banksters be Shamed–or at Least Influenced–by Public Opinion?

It sure looks that way. From the Wall Street Journal:

Bank of America Corp. is dropping its plan to charge customers $5 a month for making purchases with their debit cards, a person familiar with the situation said.

The move is a dramatic retreat following decisions by several rivals in recent days to drop customer tests of the new fees. SunTrust Banks Inc. and Regions Financial Corp. also said Monday that they will stop charging customers for debit-card transactions.

Bank of America decided against the fees due to negative customer feedback on the plan and the moves by rivals, which left the Charlotte, N.C., lender as the only big bank planning to levy the fee on some customers next year.

According to Bloomberg, BofA CEO David Darnell claims the bank just “listened” to customers.

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, said in a statement from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender today. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

Darnell wants us to believe that he had no clue that customers would be angry at being charged for accessing their own money. But actually, he apparently paid more attention to what his competitors were doing.

Bank of America reversed course after competitors including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the No. 2 debit-card issuer, decided not to charge similar fees. Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) and Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Alabama, said yesterday they will eliminate their check-card fees after customers rebelled.

At least it’s a small win for the 99%. And I’m sure the banks were paying close attention to the Occupy Movement too, even if they’ll never admit it.

11 Comments on “Can Banksters be Shamed–or at Least Influenced–by Public Opinion?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s another bankster outrage that needs to be reversed: Banks Extract Fees On Unemployment Benefits

    • Peggy Sue says:

      That’s outrageous, BB. I had read earlier that JP Morgan was exacting the largest payback on these unemployment debit cards but anything that makes it harder on the unemployed should be stopped.

      Btw, I think you’re right on the indirect effect that OWS is having. There’s a lot of criticism leveled on the Movement at the moment: it’s not coalesced around a theme, it hasn’t produced a list of demands, etc., etc. But the one thing it is doing is changing the conversation and if these groups make the banks squirm, even a little, that’s all to the good.

      People ‘are’ beginning to pay attention. That’s even better. I’ve noticed the talking heads are now addressing issues of income inequality, corruption and collusion and the need to find solutions if we’re going to survive the economic slide we’re in.

      I’m still encouraged by what I’m hearing and seeing. Guess time will tell.

      • Deborah says:

        I had a knee replacement recently and my State of CA disability benefits were administered via a B of A debit card. Luckily, I had the option to move the money automatically from the card to my checking account at no cost. But, yeah, they were going to charge me fees for using the damn debit card.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I still think the best strategy is to move your money to a credit union. They all have to use regional banks for the payment systems, debit card systems, and credit cards but at least it makes a statement.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    I hate Bank of America, with such a passion that it borders on the insane…if corporations are people, and a big bank can have personhood..then it follows BofA can be plagued with torture by using a voodoo doll.

    Quick Dak, get me one and let the games begin…Where is that ice pick?

    • The Rock says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more. If the choice is between BoA and burying money in my backyard, the backyard wins 100% of the time.


      Hillary 2012

  4. mjames says:

    As I recall, the alleged point of these cards was to SAVE us money – by keeping down bank costs, such as having tellers. It’s the same scam as no-fault car insurance. Pretend it’s going to save us money and then . . . not. Of course, their profits keep going up because the cards actually save them money. But then the insatiable pigs go and pile on some more rents.

    Oh, well, with Corzine’s scam revealed, I think if this withdrawing accounts from the TBTF banks actually works, we’re about to see that B of A is broke – again! As they all are.

  5. mjames says:

    Oh, and to answer your question, “no,” the banksters can never be shamed. But they can be made afraid.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Or they can be enraged, where they crawl out from beneath their rocks and show us [the ordinary people] who they really are. The more bad press, the more headlines to remind the electorate what this bunch got away with and why, the better.

      Corzine, for instance, really messed this one up. I read over at Naked Capitalism that the firm was leveraged 40-1, others say as high as 80-1. If that’s the case, nothing much as changed since the blowout of 2007 and this is still same old, same old. It’s all a great big casino game. And now, to add insult to injury there’s a very good chance they pilfered from client accounts to shore up the business, hoping for a miracle. Lots of magical thinking out there in finance land. And fraud.

      It just goes on and on.