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Bank of America and the Fraud of Patriotism

September 29, 2009

After two years of marginal success at college, my son joined the Navy.   As a military brat, I’m proud that my son is following the path of my father and hope that this experience will foster independence and initiative that have eluded him thus far.

As he was preparing for basic training, my son came home one day with a packet from the Bank of America.  He had opened up a checking and savings account.  “Why did you do that when you already have a checking and savings account with our credit union?” I asked him.  He replied that he needed it to direct deposit his Navy paychecks and there would be no fee.  I told him he already had that service with the credit union.  “But they have a special Navy account, Mom,” he said.

Sure enough, on his Bank of America statements there it is, “Navy Theme.” There is also a $5.95 service charge that lasted a few months before it got jacked up to $8.95. Now that he is away at basic training, still away from his first paycheck, and essentially out of contact with the Real World (aka bank letters), my son missed out on the notice that the service fees have depleted his account to the point that it is in arrears.  Bank of America and its Navy Theme is threatening to send his account to a credit bureau and warned him that he will have trouble trying to establish another banking relationship elsewhere.

And there you have it: Patriotism in action at Bank of America.  Wave the flag, recruit the soldiers in waiting with your Navy theme accounts, and nail them when they are too far away and too isolated to do anything about it.  And, when their mothers complain, point out how they broke the law in opening their son’s mail, but they are welcome to come in and cover the amount.

With this type of patriotism, who needs terrorism?

UPDATE: A very helpful BOA employee at a local branch cancelled the last 90 days of fees, leaving the account $5 in the red.  He said they will cancel the account once my son notifies them, which will not be until he’s out of basic training on October 30th.  I’m still pursuing legislation that limits marketing to military recruits, prohibits service fees from creating overdrawn accounts in the absence of withdrawals by the account owner, and the closure of accounts/submission to collection agencies while servicemen and recruits are away without liberty.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 4:23 pm

    You go Girl!! Your Bank of America story is much like the one from my bank when my husband put something on his debit card and the card wasn’t rejected due to insufficient funds. Instead, the bank allowed him to merrily use that card for days before the fee letters arrived in our mailbox. And he used the card for tiny little purchases like a cup of coffee or fast food lunch. When queried about why his card wasn’t just rejected for lack of funds, the bank responded that it didn’t want its customers to be embarassed by having their card rejected. What a way to run a financial institution!!

    One of the national papers recently ran a story about banks doing this (so at least I knew my bank wasn’t the only one!). Turns out, this is a prime money maker for these institutions – and they let their customers hang out to dry in order to earn fees that could have easily been avoided. Good news in our case was that my husband convinced them to wave the fees.

  2. Tom Upshaw permalink
    March 8, 2010 3:30 pm

    Another example of the unfortunate treatment of our soldiers. We have plenty of funds budgeted to enrich Halliburton and Blackwater but not enough to provide proper armor and equipment for our soldiers or medical benefits and jobs to veterans. Go figure. Here in Oklahoma there’s a lot of flag waving and pledge saying, but when a soldier returns nobody will hire him, particularly if he/she is in the reserve or the guard and may have to take time from work (and that was true even before the economic decline).

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