That’s what happened to the woman who is the subject matter of the attached article by Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times newspaper.
1951: Marian Dahoney, a newly employed worker at an insurance company in downtown Seattle, opens her first and only bank account at the institution located within her company’s building. Name of the bank: Seattle First National Bank, later called Seafirst, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America. These days, we all know the bank as megalithic Bank of America.
2013: Now 85-years of age, with no steady income, other than her monthly social security check and a small retirement amount from her now-deceased husband’s employment at Rainier Brewing Company, Bank of America is penalizing her for not having very much money. The Advantage for Seniors account that she currently funds with her fixed income will be charged a maintenance fee of $25/month unless she keeps a balance of at least $5,000. Danny Westneat calls those fees hidden taxes on the poor.
Marian is of the generation that believes that customer loyalty and commitment means something. She could have jumped ship many years ago as other financial institutions provided incentives for new customers to walk the plank onto their boat, but she stayed with Bank of America for 62 years – feeling good about her commitment to one banking institution for her entire adult life.
Not anymore. Marian is being forced to pull her funds (she has less than $5,000 in the bank, otherwise she would not have received a letter notifying her that the bank would be charging her $25 per month in maintenance fees) and she is searching for a new banking institution that will show her some integrity by waiving minimum balance fees. Imagine the efforts required of this 85-year old woman to go through the process of abandoning ship. For you and I – it would be an inconvenience – for Marian, it’s a major effort.
Marian Dahoney thought that her 62-years of loyalty to Bank of America would have counted for something. Nope! It counts for nothing, because Bank of America is too busy nickle and dimeing those who are just trying to put a couple meals on the table each day in a house or apartment they hope not to lose, while paying monthly utility bills to maintain the house’s heat, electricity, and water.
Shame on you Bank of America – and any other financial institutions – for penalizing the poor for not having enough money to somehow keep your businesses afloat.
Very little humor can be found in the world of finance – except, perhaps, for these anecdotes:
A bank in New York City is now making it possible to buy and sell stock using their ATM machines. This is great – it gives muggers a chance to diversify their portfolios.
A woman visited the bank to close her account because she was convinced the institution was going under.
Asked by a startled manager why she thought so, she produced one of her checks, endorsed by the bank, “Insufficient Funds.”
An accountant answered an advertisement for a top job with a large firm. At the end of the interview, the chairman said, “One last question – what is three times seven?”
The accountant thought for a moment and replied, “Twenty-two.” Outside he checked himself on his calculator and concluded he had lost the job. But two weeks later he was offered the post.
He asked the chairman why he had been appointed when he had given the wrong answer.
“You were the closest,” the chairman replied.