Quepos It was an extra present under the palm tree to read in the pre-dawn that Santa Barbara Bank & Trust was being pulled out of the business of factoring RALs, predatory refund anticipation loan for Jackson & Hewitt and other companies in the viciously competitive tax services market for lower income and working families. Several years ago direct negotiations with HSBC, previously the largest factor for such loans, had pulled out of the market (which I have discussed in Citizen Wealth at some length) and Chase had been reforming its practices, but Santa Barbara had been the big holdout.
Partially, it was simply the “one that got away.” It’s footprint was smaller with a base in Santa Barbara that was too far away from our groups and members to do much damage. They had gotten into this predatory business and done very well, but were impervious to the impacts. What did it matter to their normal customer base in Santa Barbara after all?