Leaving Bank of America

After more than 30 years as a customer of NCNB, Nationsbank, and now Bank of America, I began the arduous process of closing my accounts today. I say "arduous" because I have a host of automatic transfers and payments, plus a fully loaded online banking profile with more than 50 companies, individuals, and non-profit organizations listed in bill-pay. Switching banks is a total pain in the ass.

To put this change in perspective, I have generally not been unhappy with the service I've received from Bank of America over the years. In fact, it's been surprisingly good. I almost never pay fees, owing to a very high average balance in interest checking. And my local branch always responds to my calls, probably for the same reason. I am one of their private banking customers, and they have treated me well. But my being treated well as an individual comes nowhere near counter-balancing the assaults this institution has made on average Americans and on society in general. Whether it is through their incompetence or malice, I have come to see Bank of America as a predator, led in the marketplace by one of the most obnoxious CEOs I have ever encountered. Every time I read a report about him, it's clear that Brian Moynihan is a jerk, pure and simple. I will no longer tolerate even a distant association with him.

I know Mr. Moynihan and his C-suite colleagues won't care that they lost another valued customer. But maybe if a million other valued customers close their accounts, they'll finally get the point that the free market cuts both ways. Behave like an arrogant asshole and you'll eventually pay the price.

Over the weeks ahead, I will document the trials and tribulations of switching from Bank of America to the NC State Employees Credit Union, where I opened new accounts this very day. Wish me luck.

Comments

Opening accounts

We worked with a very nice woman here in Chapel Hill who had us set up with new accounts (checking, savings, debit card, credit card) in about 15 minutes. I would have preferred to do everything on line, but that wasn't an option, so we went to the credit union branch and handled the paperwork there.

First trial and tribulation

I came home from opening the accounts all prepared to start migrating my online bill-pay accounts. SECU now says it takes 24 hours after opening for accounts to be accessible online.

Real-time banking will arrive one of these years. It won't be soon enough for me.

I already bank exclusively with a credit union

but it looks like a lot of other folks might be going this way soon:

http://occupywallst.org/forum/november-5th-bank-transfer-day-pass-on/

November 5th 2011 BANK TRANSFER DAY A sweeping movement to get everyone to take your money out of banks and put it into credit unions. THE POWER OF NUMBERS WILL SEE A SIGNIFICANT DIP. If we can do it all at once we can send a clear message! Start now by encouraging Credit Union speakers to attend Occupy __ events and educate participants. Pass this on. November 5th.

http://www.facebook.com/Nov.Fifth

FANTASTIC!

James, you are a hero! Thank you for taking a stand and sharing your story with others. Please check out www.notbofa.org and help us spread the word that customers need to vote with their feet! The site contains a toolkit to help others follow in your footsteps.

Credit Unions

While you are opening your accounts with them, perhaps you can talk them into paying their fair share of taxes. Level the playing field.

I doubt they will listen to me

Hey there.

Thanks for the comment.

To my way of thinking, our corporate tax system is so screwed up and distorted that it is impossible to understand who is paying a fair share and who is not.

That is one small reason I am not in favor of having corporations at all. And to the extent that they must exist, I do not think they should pay taxes.

Yes, I am a flaming liberal who is against corporate taxes! Taxes should be paid by people. Companies are not people and should not be treated like people.

Follow-Up

Yes, the tax thing is an issue. However, the banks are tax-paying entities and credit unions, due to their original structure, are not. So the playing field is not level. As you can imagine, anyone who is competing for the same business and one has to pay tax and the other not, well, makes it easier for the one that doesn't to offer better deals. The fact that the general public is not aware of this difference, makes it all the more unfair. More to say, but alas, some of us need to work. :-)

Just encouraging everyone to switch to a credit union seems a little unfair. Many banks are being painted with a "Wall Street investment banker" brush and are unfairly being pictured in a totally inaccurate way. Many of them give to their communities, pay their taxes, did not take a bailout, and generally run good businesses and the current environment and unfair government intervention in their businesses and absurd regulation is killing them.

And bottom-line, no for-profit business standing on its own two feet should have the government tell them how much they can charge for a service. My guess is . . . CapStrat would not want the government kicking around and saying, "Hey, this is an unfair charge."

Just isn't right.

I am not normally a politically motivated person, perfer stay out of all the arguing, fussing, and fighting . . . but I know unfair when I see unfair.

Just a clarification on this:

The fact that the general public is not aware of this difference, makes it all the more unfair.

The general public is also not aware, and would not learn this from your statement above, that credit unions are member-owned and not-for-profit. You can't (and shouldn't try) leveling the playing field when two different sports are being played.

Also: While I can understand your concern about government intervention in the business practices of private (for-profit) institutions, that's not what this thread is about. It's about customers choosing to place their business elsewhere, for a variety of reasons.

Now, some of those reasons may be unreasonable (people upset because banks aren't dedicated to helping society), but this exodus still represents people exercising their freedom of choice in the (relatively)free market.

Granted, it's unfair to punish local/regional banks for the behavior of mega-banks. But if you want to address that, you have to highlight the positive aspects of those smaller institutions. Such as the concentration of investments (loans) back into the local community's economy, the absence of Wall Street-like risky investment behavior, etc. Stuff like that will resonate, even with the more radical OWS crowd.

Thanks

Yes, wasn't trying to educate the public with my post. So, duly noted that I did not. Two different sports are being played, and I am not sure people are aware of that. So the CUs look good, when perhaps "a better bank" might be an equally good choice. Shop around for a great bank - they are out there!

Thanks for your thoughts.

I don't work for Capstrat

but if I did, I'd respond this way: the possibility that mismanagement or over-reaching at a PR firm would take down the global economy is pretty remote.

Large banks have behaved in entirely predictable ways to maximize their profit. As their spreads have shrunk, many have turned to fees and products that target customers with less money. The foreclosure mess is ultimately the fault of uninformed borrowers, but they have been aided and abetted by irresponsible lenders.

I don't have a magic answer, and I am generally not in favor of government involvement in private business. In this case, I'd prefer to see a break up of large banks, perhaps through some throttling effect by the FDIC. Too big too fail is a problem, no matter how you cut it. And the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the risks of failure extend far beyond those responsible for any particular institution.

Final Thought

Just using a business you know about/had an interest in as an example. Even what you say in this reply shows some balance. Just felt some of that was missing.

Thanks - while we don't always agree, I appreciate your passion.

Thank you

Although I haven't been with a "big" bank for years, I'm glad to see what I hope becomes a mass exodus from BoA and its ilk. My current bank, a local but growing bank, may ultimately lose my meager business to a credit union. As much trouble as it would be for us to switch our three personal and one business account, I shudder to imagine the inconvenience your move will seem like. Hopefully you trouble and that of others will ultimately be worth the effort.

_______________________________________________

"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

You'll never look back

Having my account at SECU is an absolutely wonderful experience. Every time I read about banking fees, I just smile and tell my friends to move to a credit union.

BTW their online banking works quite well altho I never used a bank's website (I switched to SECU several years ago).

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
https://george.entenman.name

BOA

A hearty band on Vashon Island, WA is chasing BOA off the island. When the credit union came to Vashon, the BOA staff jumped ship for the opportunity to provide superior customer and community service.

From a 30 year customer of SECU.

John Heuer
NC Peace Action
Veterans for Peace

Occupy @Home: A Kitchen Counterstrike Against Bank of America

I made a video protest recently for my blog. It is quite funny even if you are pro-megabank. I called my credit card's customer service line to do some negotiating. Having a bit of leverage, I thought it presented a great opportunity to mess with them a little and make a few points about the unfairness of the credit card lending system. Since it's a protest at home, I called it my kitchen counterstrike against Bank of America. I think you might enjoy it. http://www.ragingwisdom.com/?p=508

Funny stuff

Love one of the comments: Some serious Jedi sh/t.

Good on ya, especially for such a sane and normal looking guy. : )