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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Bank of America Seems to Like Pissing off Americans

    I am reprising this article because it is still appropriate. Bottom line is Bank of America is one of the WORST banks in America when it comes to predatory lending, opposing progressive reforms, and basic customer service. Many people, on the left and right, are boycotting Bank of America these days. And this article covers the reasons why:

    Right after eagerly grabbing taxpayer money through the bank bailout, Bank of America went ahead and used some of that money (OUR money) to lobby against the very popular Employee Free Choice Act and tried to raise money for Republican Senators. By the way, the Employee Free Choice Act passed DESPITE this use of bailout money by Bank of America to lobby against it.

    This led me to decide to not bank at Bank of America and to stop using my credit cards from them. Funny how they love corporate welfare but oppose anything that helps working class and middle class Americans.

    I also decided to look into Bank of America's record in general on social issues. First thing I discovered was that according to Co-op America's Responsible Shopper, Bank of America is considered tied with Citicorp for worst bank or financial institution. Here are some comments (last updated 9/2008) from Responsible Shopper regarding Bank of America:

    Bank of America is the second largest US bank and operates more than 5,700 branch locations.

    • Bank of America has been sued by the New York State Attorney General for multiple instances of improper mutual fund trading, including the most costly trading scandal to date, which the company settled for $675 million.

    • Bank of America claims to enrich communities with its nationwide reach, but its acquisition of MBNA, the country's third-largest credit card company, has raised concerns about continued predatory lending and soaring interest rates due to stifled competition.

    • Bank of America is one of the largest investors in coal and coal fired power, which is responsible for nearly a third of the nation's CO2 emissions, and also funds surface coal mining.


    According to Responsible Shopper, Wachovia, Wells Fargo and Suntrust are nominally the best of the big banks, though consolidations and buyouts may be shifting all this. But it is clear that as long as Bank of America's money grubbing CEO, Ken Lewis, is running the show, Bank of America will remain one of the worst financial institutions in America. Personally I am finding USAA and TD Bank among the best out there in terms of customer service and lower fees.

    But back to Bank of America. Seems Bank of America is pissing off lots of people with their treatment of customers as well. Grabbing taxpayer money then stabbing the taxpayer in the back is pretty low. But treating your customers poorly goes even beyond that to outright poor business practices. Here are two examples of some pretty pissed off customers.

    First, there is a gentle man named Robert G. Seketa, who runs two websites: Boycott Bank of America and Stop Bank Abuse. Both are dedicated to trying and stop the predatory lending practices that LED to the need for a bank bailout in the first place. Check out his websites to see more about Bank of America's lending practices and their poor treatment of customers. But there is one thing I want to post from his site: a breakdown of which banks get the most complaints from customers according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency:


    Bank of America: 7,230 complaints (25.5% of total)
    J.P. Morgan Chase: 4,890 complaints (17.3%)
    Citigroup: 3,742 complaints (13.2%)
    Wells Fargo: 2,695 complaints (9.5%)
    HSBC North America: 1,963 complaints (6.9%)
    Wachovia: 1,265 complaints (4.5%)
    U.S. Bancorp: 1,027 complaints (3.6%)
    National City: 586 complaints (2.1%)
    The Royal Bank of Scotland Group: 537 complaints (1.9 %)
    Key Corp: 343 complaints (1.2 %)

    Total Top 10 complaints: 24,278 complaints (85.7%)
    Total complaints: 28,316 complaints (100%)

    Note that Bank of America and Citicorp (the two worst financial institutions according to Responsible Shopper) also are among the three companies that get the most customer complaints filed. Chase is the other one. So by two different, independent measures, Bank of America and Citicorp pretty much suck. I should note that the chart doesn't give a time frame, so I don't know if it is for a certain year or cumulative. It also would be interesting to break it down per customer, since some of these companies are much bigger than others.

    Next we come to another pissed off Bank of America customer who is taking it to the web. From Times Square Gossip we get this complaint:

    am calling for everyone that reads Times Square Gossip to boycott The Bank Of America. I have had it with their underhanded business practices. If you have their credit cards or have a account in their bank, cancel it. I never look at credit card bills, I just pay them online every month. I never look at the interest rates, I just always assume that they are the same as always. Well yesterday I just happened to look for once and was I shocked. They raised my rates from 17 percent to almost 26 percent. I could not believe it. I always pay on time, I always pay 2 or three times the minimum due and I have had this card for years. My credit score is 702 which is considered excellent. I was outraged. I called them up today, and they told me they had sent me a notice last March (One year I didn't notice the higher rate) and that I had the option of not using the card and still pay the low rate or if I used the card, the higher rate prevailed. I said, why would I care about a cheaper rate on a card if I couldn't use it and if I did I would pay the higher rate. I asked them why my rate was raised in the first place. They said they reviewed my account and I was now considered a higher risk. A higher risk? I pay on time, I always pay more than minimum, and I have a high credit score. They said that's what they decided but since I was unhappy, he could give me a rate of 23 point something. So I said let me get this straight, " I pay on time on the credit card for years, I pay more than minimum, I have a excellent history and score and this is the way you treat a customer for many years?" I told him to cancel my credit card. I don't want to deal with a sleazy bank like Bank Of America." I am paying off the credit card in full when the final bill arrives ( Besides it's only 15 hundred owed anyway) and next week I am canceling my checking and savings accounts with them too. They charge higher rates than the Mafia. This is also just one horror story on The Bank Of America. I have so many more on what they have done over the years to my checking accounts. I never switched because I have several direct deposits and didn't want to go through the task of finding another bank and calling all my direct deposits and switching them. But now I will find a new bank this week and The Bank Of America can go FU*K themselves. I have millions of readers, and I urge anyone that has accounts with them to close them. If you also have horror stories on them, please tell them below by clicking comment or e-mail them to me and I will post. I will also be posting this story on all our sister websites. I will be posting more horror stories every couple of weeks, so stay tuned.


    Okay, so a gossip column is not my usual source. But consider this: progressive activist mole333, a NYC gossip columnist, and blue-collar type Robert Seketa all are pissed at Bank of America at the same time. If three such different people can agree Bank of America sucks, it is no wonder they lead in numbers of complaints filed against them.

    I would add that there also was a discrimination suit filed against Bank of America by five black workers.

    So, it comes down to this:

    1. poor customer service (based on number of complaints filed against them)

    2. poor business practices (leading to their needing a bailout)

    3. Betrayal of the very taxpayers that bailed them out by lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act

    4. A discrimination lawsuit

    5. Investment in polluting coal power plants

    6. sued by the New York State Attorney General for a massive mutual fund trading scandal

    Seems like there are a lot of reasons to not like Bank of America. Again I am personally switching to TD Bank and USAA. I my readers also look for alternatives to these big banks who screw us over, use OUR tax money to bail themselves out, then screw us over again. Boycott Bank of America (and Chase and Citibank). Your own finances will probably be better off in the long run, and you will be supporting working class Americans as well.

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