Banks Piling On

New Orleans There just seems to be no shame among most of the nation’s bigBank-of-America banking institutions.  Despite their recklessness and greed that frog marched us into a semi-great depression, they continue to aggressively resist all movement to reform their ways and now are fleecing us more heartily than ever before with charges that fairly stated are no longer “nickel and dime.”

A number of things call this to mind.  One was reading the response from Scotiabank to Community Organizations International and ACORN Canada’s demands that they lower remittance fees between immigrants and their home countries.  Three pages of posturing, most of which had nothing to do with remittances, and none of which was responsive to either our demands or requests for a meeting.  Even though the reply from the banking system of India was equally unresponsive at least it was notable for saying not much in only two sentences, largely promising referral and delay.   Grrrrr!

The other is the increasing evidence that financial institutions, big and small, from Bank of America to local credit unions, are engaging systemically in financial chicanery and “gotcha” tactics.  Our tech czar was in our office making sure the new phone system was hokey-dory and when I asked how his day was going, he unleashed a torrent of complaints about his credit union (and our landlord now!) and the way they were butchering his account and finances after 31 years as a customer with nonsensical fees that they were laying on him without rhyme or reason because they were not clearing checks from his corporate customers.  He was looking for a new bank!

He was not alone.  That morning I had also read an article in the Times documenting the same kind of predatory policies that banks are forcing on customers, frequently without a glimmer of transparency.   One even snuck a 3% charge on international wire transfers!  I overheard in our new “open plan” office layout a conversation between our finance person and our Canadian director about the double charges being assessed by banks on both sides of a wire transfer.

On the international side we need the G-8, World Bank, and others to recognize that there are global issues in finance with human faces, and there needs to be a new regime of regulation here.  At home we need to start raising the roof about this systematic pick pocketing of citizen wealth at the teller windows and ATMs of our financial institutions.

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