In response to heavy consumer and media backlash, the big banks have retreated on their plans to add debit card fees. Win!
Bank of America, the second largest bank in the U.S., was the final to cave. They joined Chase (the largest bank), Wells Fargo, SunTrust, and Regions in abandoning their strategy to add new debit card fees on their customers.
This comes just days before “Bank Transfer Day” – a consumer advocate movement urging Americans to switch from (for-profit) banks to (non-profit) credit unions. The movement was created by a Bank of America customer who was upset with the implementation of the debit card fees and created a Facebook event. The Facebook page has since grown to over 36,000 followers.
A separate online petition was created to urge BofA to abandon the debit card fees. It received over 300,000 signatures online.
Bank of America Chief Operating Officer, David Darnell, released the following statement on their decision to drop the debit card fees:
“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”
Power in Numbers
As I stated in my post on banks with no checking account or debit card fees, you can vote by taking your business elsewhere. This is happening more and more lately, and to surprisingly effective results.
The Internet has truly powered consumers by providing a means to communicate information like new corporate fees and providing a platform for consumers to join together to create movements against unreasonable corporate actions.
Netflix’s streak of price increases and foolish move to split the company in two enraged customers to the level of millions unsubscribing, tens of thousands of negative comments on the Netflix blog, and the company stock price dropping 75% this year. Finally, the company caved, and decided to abandon splitting the company.
I find these examples absolutely exhilarating and refreshing. It gives me renewed faith in the power of the Internet, in consumer awareness and advocacy, and in our country. And it all happened without government intervention. Good stuff!
Just the Beginning
Consumers have won this battle, but I don’t think that it will stop banks from finding other crafty new fees to implement in order to drive corporate profits higher. Banks exist for one reason – to make money. And when an egotistical banking executive’s bonus or job is on the line if he/she can’t drive year over year profit growth, price increases and new fees are often bound to be passed on to customers.
Stay on your toes, stay vocal, and don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere if you need to.
Maybe someone needs to start a “Comcast Transfer Day”… hmmm….
While I am happy that they did not implement those debt card fees, I have a feeling that these banks will find another way to nickle and dime their customers at some point. I think people should still transfer to a credit union to be safe.
There should be no doubt that they will try. However, it’s likely to be much more under the radar or subtle. Their reputations took a big hit (as if they weren’t already bad enough).
Comcast Transfer Day, I’m with you 100%. Worst Customer Service, ever.
I 2nd the Comcast Transfer day!!!!!! Something has to be done, the prices keep going up and the customer service keeps getting worse
I loved the fact they we as a society are able to connect with those corporations and tell them how they can improve as a business. You are right that the consumers ‘won this battle’ but I think they always should win, because businesses number one asset is their loyal customers; something Netflix lost sight of.
I don’t know that consumers should ‘always’ get their demands (i.e. free cable TV, anyone?), but there are reasonable price increases and there are unreasonable, or out-of-touch price increases. I think the debit card fee fell into the latter, since the banks use our deposits and are still making money every time we swipe.
That is a good point, sometimes consumer demands are way out of line and down right unreasonable!
I love Facebook even more now! I couldn’t believe that Bank of America was going to charge debit card fees. They charged for everything at that bank including not having enough money to stay at that bank. So glad that they took away those fees. I’m also glad that I don’t bank there.
Its comical that these major banks thought they could pull of charging people to use debit cards. While this may have seemed like a great idea, they must have known the backlash would be great. And did they honestly think people wouldnt drop them in a hot second to switch to a bank that wasn’t charging $5 per swipe? Not only would an uproar of BofA customers slander the name of the bank to all of their friends, but if this huge player had kept the plan in motion, any loophole possible would have been found and executed. Glad to know that we as consumers can still ban together and reverse a terrible decision made by greedy corporate heads!