• No Sweat
  • Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Bank of America Seems to Like Pissing off Americans

    Recently, I wrote about how Bank of America, right after grabbing taxpayer money through the bank bailout, went ahead and used some of that money to lobby against the very popular Employee Free Choice Act and tried to raise money for Republican Senators. By the way, the Employee Free Choice Act passed DESPITE this use of bailout money by Bank of America to lobby against it.

    This led me to decide to not bank at Bank of America and to stop using my credit cards from them. Funny how they love corporate welfare but oppose anything that helps working class and middle class Americans.

    I also decided to look into Bank of America's record in general on social issues. First thing I discovered was that according to Co-op America's Responsible Shopper, Bank of America is considered tied with Citicorp for worst bank or financial institution. Here are some comments (last updated 9/2008) from Responsible Shopper regarding Bank of America:

    Bank of America is the second largest US bank and operates more than 5,700 branch locations.

    • Bank of America has been sued by the New York State Attorney General for multiple instances of improper mutual fund trading, including the most costly trading scandal to date, which the company settled for $675 million.

    • Bank of America claims to enrich communities with its nationwide reach, but its acquisition of MBNA, the country's third-largest credit card company, has raised concerns about continued predatory lending and soaring interest rates due to stifled competition.

    • Bank of America is one of the largest investors in coal and coal fired power, which is responsible for nearly a third of the nation's CO2 emissions, and also funds surface coal mining.

    By the way, according to Responsible Shopper, Wachovia, Wells Fargo and Suntrust are nominally the best of the big banks, though consolidations and buyouts may be shifting all this. But it is clear that as long as Bank of America's money grubbing CEO, Ken Lewis, is running the show, Bank of America will remain one of the worst financial institutions in America.

    Which leads to some other sites I came across. Seems Bank of America is pissing off lots of people with their treatment of customers as well. Grabbing taxpayer money then stabbing the taxpayer in the back is pretty low. But treating your customers poorly goes even beyond that to outright poor business practices. Here are two examples of some pretty pissed off customers.

    First, there is a gentle man named Robert G. Seketa, who runs two websites: Boycott Bank of America and Stop Bank Abuse. Both are dedicated to trying and stop the predatory lending practices that LED to the need for a bank bailout in the first place. Check out his websites to see more about Bank of America's lending practices and their poor treatment of customers. But there is one thing I want to post from his site: a breakdown of which banks get the most complaints from customers according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency:

    Bank of America: 7,230 complaints (25.5% of total)
    J.P. Morgan Chase: 4,890 complaints (17.3%)
    Citigroup: 3,742 complaints (13.2%)
    Wells Fargo: 2,695 complaints (9.5%)
    HSBC North America: 1,963 complaints (6.9%)
    Wachovia: 1,265 complaints (4.5%)
    U.S. Bancorp: 1,027 complaints (3.6%)
    National City: 586 complaints (2.1%)
    The Royal Bank of Scotland Group: 537 complaints (1.9 %)
    Key Corp: 343 complaints (1.2 %)

    Total Top 10 complaints: 24,278 complaints (85.7%)
    Total complaints: 28,316 complaints (100%)

    Note that Bank of America and Citicorp (the two worst financial institutions according to Responsible Shopper) also are among the three companies that get the most customer complaints filed. So by two different measures these two companies suck. I should note that the chart doesn't give a time frame, so I don't know if it is for a certain year or cumulative. It also would be interesting to break it down per customer, since some of these companies are much bigger than others.

    Next we come to another pissed off Bank of America customer who is taking it to the web. From Times Square Gossip we get this complaint:

    am calling for everyone that reads Times Square Gossip to boycott The Bank Of America. I have had it with their underhanded business practices. If you have their credit cards or have a account in their bank, cancel it. I never look at credit card bills, I just pay them online every month. I never look at the interest rates, I just always assume that they are the same as always. Well yesterday I just happened to look for once and was I shocked. They raised my rates from 17 percent to almost 26 percent. I could not believe it. I always pay on time, I always pay 2 or three times the minimum due and I have had this card for years. My credit score is 702 which is considered excellent. I was outraged. I called them up today, and they told me they had sent me a notice last March (One year I didn't notice the higher rate) and that I had the option of not using the card and still pay the low rate or if I used the card, the higher rate prevailed. I said, why would I care about a cheaper rate on a card if I couldn't use it and if I did I would pay the higher rate. I asked them why my rate was raised in the first place. They said they reviewed my account and I was now considered a higher risk. A higher risk? I pay on time, I always pay more than minimum, and I have a high credit score. They said that's what they decided but since I was unhappy, he could give me a rate of 23 point something. So I said let me get this straight, " I pay on time on the credit card for years, I pay more than minimum, I have a excellent history and score and this is the way you treat a customer for many years?" I told him to cancel my credit card. I don't want to deal with a sleazy bank like Bank Of America." I am paying off the credit card in full when the final bill arrives ( Besides it's only 15 hundred owed anyway) and next week I am canceling my checking and savings accounts with them too. They charge higher rates than the Mafia. This is also just one horror story on The Bank Of America. I have so many more on what they have done over the years to my checking accounts. I never switched because I have several direct deposits and didn't want to go through the task of finding another bank and calling all my direct deposits and switching them. But now I will find a new bank this week and The Bank Of America can go FU*K themselves. I have millions of readers, and I urge anyone that has accounts with them to close them. If you also have horror stories on them, please tell them below by clicking comment or e-mail them to me and I will post. I will also be posting this story on all our sister websites. I will be posting more horror stories every couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

    Okay, so a gossip column is not my usual source. But consider this: progressive activist mole333, a NYC gossip columnist, and blue-collar type Robert Seketa all are pissed at Bank of America. If three such different people can agree Bank of America sucks, it is no wonder they lead in numbers of complaints filed against them.

    I would add that there also was a discrimination suit filed against Bank of America by five black workers,

    So, it comes down to this:

    1. poor customer service (based on number of complaints filed against them)

    2. poor business practices (leading to their needing a bailout)

    3. Betrayal of the very taxpayers that bailed them out by lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act

    4. A discrimination lawsuit

    5. Investment in polluting coal power plants

    6. sued by the New York State Attorney General for a massive mutual fund trading scandal

    Seems like there are a lot of reasons to not like Bank of America.

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Dear Bank of America

    Dear Bank of America,

    I am a customer. That's right. I have a couple of Bank of America credit cards. My wife and I are also looking for a bank for some accounts. But you know, your ingratitude leads me to refuse to bank with you and to consider cutting up those credit cards.

    First off, you never thanked us for that bail out. Yeah. WE bailed you out. That was OUR money that you so eagerly grabbed from the government.

    Okay, so I was willing to overlook that little act of ingratitude on your part. But now I find out that your ingratitude goes even further. You see, after eagerly grabbing a government hand out (paid for by us taxpayers!) you then turned around and stabbed us in the back. You took the money and used part of it to lobby against the Employee Free Choice Act, a labor bill that is supported by a large majority of Americans.

    From the Huffington Post:

    Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

    Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill...

    Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued, to prevent America from turning "into France."

    Boy, you guys were eager as hell to grab taxpayer money from the government, but as soon as there is a fair labor bill coming up, suddenly it is the fucking end of civilization? And in the midst of huge popular support for Obama and the Democrats, many of whom supported your bail out, you decide now is the time to support the party that just ruined our economy over the last 8 years. This really is pretty disgusting on your part. I agree with the observations made on Daily Kos regarding your igratitude:

    So Bank of America, fresh with taxpayer bailout boodle courtesy of American workers, is spending its time and money trying to screw those same American workers...

    It's little wonder that the SEIU has called on BofA to fire CEO Ken Lewis. It's unconscionable for the receipients of government handouts to spend their time and money to try and defeat the Employee Free Choice Act -- the cornerstone of long-term economic revitalization. It's time for change in the boardrooms.

    Bank of America: your actions have consequences. Next time you come for a government handout, I will lobby my Congressional Rep and Senators (all Democrats, I will add) that I oppose bailing out any banks because you use OUR money to lobby AGAINST us.

    Furthermore, any Bank of America credit cards I now have will be shoved aside. I won't use them anymore. I don't want to patronize an ungrateful company that will turn against me right after I helped bail them out.

    Of course should you decide that CEO Ken Lewis has overstepped the bounds of decency and fire the bastard, I will consider patronizing your company once again.


    A Customer

    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    Republican Corruption Continues: RNC chief Michael Steele

    The Republican Party just plain doesn't get it. In 2006 they lost big because of the massive corruption within their party. Then in 2008 they still maintained their corruption, to the point of actually having a VP candidate who didn't pay her taxes and who was actively under investigation for abuse of power.

    Now the Republicans have a new chair of the Republican National Committee, one Michael Steele. Recently it came out that Steele is more than willing to let anti-Semitism be used on his behalf. But now it turns out Steele also is yet another corrupt Republican.

    From the Washington Post:

    Steele's Campaign Spending Questioned

    Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors...

    The recent allegations outlined four specific transactions. In addition to the payment to Steele's sister, Fabian said that the candidate used money from his state campaign improperly; that Steele paid $75,000 from the state campaign to a law firm for work that was never performed; and that he or an aide transferred more than $500,000 in campaign cash from one bank to another without authorization...

    In one of his allegations, Fabian points to a February 2007 payment by Steele's Senate campaign of more than $37,000 to Brown Sugar Unlimited, the company run by Steele's sister, Monica Turner. Campaign finance records list the expense as having been for "catering/web services." Turner filed papers to dissolve the company 11 months before the payment was received...

    In another allegation, Fabian claimed that payments to two vendors in 2006 for work on the Senate campaign were made from Steele's state account rather than from his federal coffers...

    It is a violation of federal campaign finance regulations for a candidate to use funds raised for a state campaign to pay for expenses associated with a federal campaign...

    Over the years, money trouble has been a persistent problem for Steele. His first race for public office, a 1998 bid for the Republican nomination for state comptroller, ended nearly $35,000 in debt, much of it to his sister. He was fined twice by state officials for missing deadlines to file campaign finance reports and was in debt and had faced foreclosure in 2001, the year before he was selected as Ehrlich's running mate. The state party threw Steele a financial lifeline, awarding him an unusual $30,000 consulting contract.

    Typical Republican disregard for the law. And THIS guy, who has shown a persistent difficulty handling money and keeping within the law, was the guy the RNC chose to be their leader.