Friday, October 7, 2011

The subtle difference between predicted and desired results

Please peruse the following video clip, entitled "Bank of America refuses to let customers close accounts"

To make my standpoint clear - I'll be closing at least one of my Bank of America account shortly as well. I considering another 5 dollar fee for using a debit card to be excessive, and will either use a credit card, or cash, or go to a bank with lower fees. 

Many of the things the bank is doing are being done without a thought for the customer.  Yes, the bank "has a right to make a profit", it's the whole purpose of starting a company.  But when a company chooses to make a profit regardless of the needs of the customer, that can become an issue.  And if enough people choose to stop working with said company, they will either choose to amend their practices, or choose to pile MORE fees upon the remaining customers, which will only make the snowball bigger.


In fairness, from what I see, the bank was not preventing people from closing their accounts, as much as they were preventing angry bullhorn and sign-carrying protesters from entering the building.  There's no guarantees that tempers wouldn't flare in such a situation, and result in an incident.  That seems reasonable to me.

What's more I will lay odds that the people who organized this protest knew DAMN well that's what would happen.  They woudn't get as many views of a video titled "Bank of America ALLOWS customers to close accounts.  It's the implication that BoA won't give these people their money that they want to show.  These people were not here to close their accounts, they were there to make noise.  Yes, the  bank played into their hands by keeping them out, but I don't think they had THAT much choice.  Indeed, I'll bet they TOLD the bank they were coming, so they could be ready with the security they clearly had.

I am WHOLLY positive that if these people showed up in ones or twos, or even greater numbers, but not carrying bullhorns and provocative signs, they'd have been allowed in the bank.  I'm sure the bank folks would do anything they could to keep them from closing the account, be it discussion or maybe a free calendar, but they wouldn't be "prevented" from closing them.

Heck, you can, I believe, close your accounts online.  But that wasn't going to get them on the news.

(But fair warning, banks (not just BoA) often keep closed accounts open for a period of time after you ask it to be closed, to "ensure that any automatic transfers are responded to properly".  In other words, if you forget to switch an automatic debit, you'll get hit with another bounced check fee, even though the account was closed.  So keep an eye out.)

Now let's listen to rthe things people were saying (from prepared statements, you'll notice)...  "Bank of America has foreclosed on more homes than any other bank" - that may well be true, but that would be because Bank of America is one of, if not THE biggest housing lenders in the US.  So with all the homes defaulting, it makes sense that the bank with the most loans would have the most defaults.  But the implication the statement is supposed to give is they're somehow doing it on purpose, just taking homes from random people, as opposed to people who haven't been able to make the payments, for whatever reasons. 

I've no clue if the statement that BoA paid no taxes is true or not.  It certainly wouldn't surprise me, considering the tales you hear today, but my knee jerk reaction isn't "That ain't right!" but "Really? can you prove that? If so, It certainly doesn't seem proper and correct."  It's just too easy to throw those wildly provocative statements into the crowd and let them get chewed on like raw steak at a dog fight, but if they are proven incorrect, they only serve to undermine your cause.  So too does the yelling and screaming.

Make your points reasonably, use facts, and people will pay attention to you.  Sit in Wall Street and dress up like zombies, and you'll get a few seconds on the news. You'll get some eyeballs, but not too many ears.

Maybe the problem is I'm too damn old to get outraged over much of anything anymore.  Maybe I'm just too tired of standing in the rain and chanting and rhyming.  Perhaps I still have too much faith in people, and I actually believe that eventually companies will realize that people no longer have the free and ready cash that allow them to buy things willy-willy, or not pay attention to all the recurring fees their cards are racking up.  So when people start cancelling services, or notice that they haven't actually PLAYED Warcraft in months, or that they're not actually USING the DVD-rental part of their netflix Account and cancel that bit, the companies will think "Well, you know what, if THEY have to get by with less, maybe WE'LL have to get by with less, at least until things turn around a bit."

I keep hoping that companies will notice that the more things they choose to make overseas, the less people that can afford to BUY the things here, and make the connection that a child of four could.

In short, Like Anne Frank, I still believe that people are inherently good.  And considering what happened to her, it sounds just as naive coming out of my mouth...


  1. Great post, Vin, with a great last line. I think a lot of people leave things be simply out of inertia. Goodness knows we ourselves have, for example, allowed Netflix DVDs to sit around for months without being watched. We're all so distracted by life's little obligations that we're not even noticing things like accruing fees. Maybe "If THEY have to get by with less, maybe WE'LL have to get by with less until things turn around" should be tattooed to our foreheads to make us pay attention, and not unwittingly nickel-and-dime ourselves into the poorhouse!

  2. I seem to be the opposite -- the older I get the more outraged I get. I just don't have the energy I used to have to foment insurrection! I think that most individual people are good at heart, but put them together into corporations, boards, institutes and they become unfeeling lackies of greed. I don't think any big corporation is ever going to wake up and think "Maybe we should have a conscience." Boy would I love to be able to think that could happen, but I don't.

    Two completely different Presidents did the same thing -- hand over billions to the banks who are now sitting on it without stricture. Where is the outrage from our Congress and President? We can be upset all we want, but until our supposed representatives give a damn, nothing will be fixed. History seems to teach us that it's the hopeless poor that really make revolutions, with some exceptions. We need a Bastille Day for the middle class. But I have the same problem most people have -- how do we start it? The middle class (what there is left of us) never starts revolutions -- we are all too busy working and raising our children, we have a lot to lose with our families, and you have to be ready to lose it to really create a revolt. I wish I had the courage, the know-how and the 20-year-old energy I took for granted then.

    I agree completely about the protest in the video. Of course it was going to go that way, but it was a good way to get publicity. That's not altogether bad. Vinnie, I left you a 2 minute video on your Facebook page that my sister sent me -- it is more street language eloquent than anything I've heard. thought you might like it if you haven't seen it already. If you don't like something with language like that, just erase it - it won't hurt my feelings! LOL!

    LOVE this article -- just right for ITRD!

  3. Hey, Becky, Dorian here, speaking on behalf of Vinnie in praise of your comments. No worries about language; we can be pottymouths when the situation calls for it! :-) Looking forward to checking out your sister's video. Like you, I wish I'd used my youthful energy to be more of a rabble-rouser when I had the time and sass! It's not too late, people!

  4. Ah, well. Yes, the protesters in the video were engaging in a little street theater. BoA is, in fact, pretty infamous for its bad foreclosure practices (a lot of their loans, admittedly, came from Countrywide, but BoA has been, shall we say, considerably less than stellar in addressing these loans, especially the bushels of forged documentation). The Mem-sahib could give you chapter and verse, but BoA is not, as Buffy Summers might say, of the good.

  5. I'm not coming to the defense of BoA, I assure you. I just can't stand it when such blatant theatrics stand in place of actual productive discourse.

    Many have said that Republicans think, and Democrats feel. I know I'd much rather convince someone of an argument with facts than just saying it "shouldn't be, cause..."