|Bank of America Plaza - Atlanta, GA|
After several years and six accounts, I have closed everything I had going with Bank of America, save only for the lingering credit card, which will be switched as soon the new one comes through at OnPoint Credit Union. I had this switch-over in progress before I became aware of November 5th being Bank Transfer Day. My own switch happened today by coincidence.
I felt guilty while sitting down with the B of A rep. She was a charming young lady of about 30, and she began with the usual spiel about, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear you'll be leaving us. Is there anything we can do...?"
No, the time for that is long past. From the sudden appearance of checking account fees in 2008-2009 to those fees increasing without notice to the recent $5 swipe fee debacle, all I see from B of A as a service vendor is an unending string of nickle and dime extractions meant to squeeze every electron of economic energy possible from we coppertops. None of these fees have ever provided me with a positive customer experience or service enhancement. None.
So I told the lady, "Every single employee I've ever dealt with at B of A has been exemplary in terms of kindness and helpfulness. It's your company that I can't stand anymore, and I'm taking my money to a place where profits are given back to regular people."
Something in her look told me I could ask another question so I did. "The bonuses that banks pay out every year," I said. "Do all employees get a bonus, or only the executives?"
Her features hardened and she leaned back. "Just the executives," she said. Then, "No, that's not true. On years when we surpass quota, the employees get a bonus. I get $250. But it's taxed as a bonus, so I see...maybe $100 of it. For the year."
In contrast, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan drew $9.05 million in stock awards earlier this year. That's on top of his $950,000 salary.
I asked my banker how much bank employees make. She shook her head ruefully.
"Tellers start at $10 an hour," she said. "They go up to $12. A personal banker might make $13 or so an hour. The assistant manager could do $15 -- $17 tops." A mixture of anger and fear crept into her voice, and I could tell that times were tough for her, even having a job at which she worked six days a week. "You know, I drove by Carl's Jr. the other day, and they're hiring at $12 an hour. You would think that the people you're trusting with your thousands of dollars would get paid more than just a couple of bucks over minimum wage."
You would think.
I took my final cashier's check across the street to OnPoint Credit Union and deposited it in my new account. I asked the teller how much they make.
"We start at $15 an hour," she said smiling. "And the insurance? I have to pay more for my family -- 20% of the premium for my kids -- but just for me? I'm 100% covered." Then she added, "I worked for Bank of America 30 years before coming here. I don't miss them at all."
So I feel better. Not just because I took my money away from an insidious, corruptive, blood-sucking juggernaut. (I mean really, do you seriously think that B of A won't find a quieter way to extricate that $5 pound of flesh from its customers every month?) I feel better knowing that the profits made from my money for the credit union will not only go toward keeping loan rates low for clients, they'll also provide a better quality of life for the employees who work hard every day and deserve a decent paycheck.
If you want to walk the walk, if you want to help the few financial institutions that don't seek to twist laws for their own profits, that create good jobs, that are trying to help you and not drain you into poverty, put your money in a credit union. Yes, I know it's a pain to switch all of your stuff over. Yes, you'll need to print out and/or save all of your records, because banks like B of A will kill off all of your online records access on the same day you close your accounts. But please...it's worth it. I'm OK with enduring a week or so of inconvenience for a much greater good.