Bank of Un-Merica.

Those awful Goblins that are in charge of Harry Potter's bank, Gringott's?  @#$%ing angels compared to B of A.

Those awful Goblins that are in charge of Harry Potter’s bank, Gringott’s? @#$%ing angels compared to B of A.

The art above is exactly how I feel about my banking institution, Bank of America, since Tuesday.

What has me fired up is the complete lack of anything resembling Customer Service. I may have a distorted view of the phrase “Customer Service,” after months of dealing with a Darth who used it frequently in odd contexts, but I think that I’m on point with this one. In fact, just yesterday I explained to a Bank Representative in person, at the branch, that I would be closing my account that day, except I have no way to redirect the automatic deposit of my paycheck in time.

I will often do things that spite myself, but hurling an entire paycheck into some sort of digital limbo by closing my accounts with a bank is NOT something I am prepared to do.

Bank of America decides, with some regularity, that my card has been stolen, and that it needs to be terminated and replaced. They don’t actually TELL me this…almost invariably they decline a transaction of mine while I am say…out to dinner. This creates a pretty awkward problem, and never once has my card actually be compromised. Usually they have a “red flag” on my actual expenditures, and when I call in and confirm that yes, they were all mine…they do not reactivate the card.

This failure to say…”Oh sorry…our bad, let’s just get you going again” provides a fascinating fallout. You see, when I eventually get the NEW card, I need to change every single method of electronic payment that I use to suit the new number…a number I wouldn’t have to enter if B of A were competent, or willing to work with me at all with relation to what might be convenient for ME, the client. In fact, the kind person from the fraud department explained to me that I would be getting a new card in SEVEN days.

You know…an ATM card that gives me access to the money I am giving them the privilege of using as capital for investments. SEVEN days. I get things from in less than a week, because they are actually concerned with keeping me happy…I could just shop on say, eBay, right? Not so for Bank of America. When I pointed out that this was a farce, the kind person on the phone told me I could go into the branch, and get a temporary card tomorrow.

I did this. I brought the clipboard, so that I could draw the art above, because I knew I would be waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

By the time I was seen, I was fuming, and the artwork was DONE. I explained that yes, we would get me a temporary ATM card, and in fact, we would Federal Express me a new card, because that is what you do for someone that lets you hold onto, and invest, thousands of their dollars at a time. Dealing with a person in front of you is a great deal different than being a Telephone Tool, so there was a great deal of agreement, and words like “Expedited Card” were said. Apologies were made, and I was promised, on a stack of Bibles, that FedEx would bring me my new ATM card the following day.

I still do not have that card. As a result, the day of this post, I will be returning to the branch office, with a tale of anger that will almost definitely result in massive account liquidation. The part that amazes me about the whole thing is this: I have put up with this sort of @#$% treatment by that firm for years, mostly because I am too lazy to move my accounts elsewhere.

Now…with electronic payment…B of A’s lame “fraud department” and poor Customer Service actually give me the SAME hassles that closing my accounts and opening a new one would. I have to change everything anyway…so why not take the plunge, and not let people that could care less about treating the people that give them money to invest as if they were a valued, no, a VITAL part of the investment model?

It’s fascinating to note that I never actually opened a Bank of America account. The massive bank ate Security Pacific years ago, like a financial Pac-Man, and my account with it. As a result, I became a customer in the same way that say, Germany acquired Poland in 1939. My account was occupied by a hostile takeover, and since then, draconian policies that think little of the people taken over have followed.

I hate to ever agree with any Teachers’ Unions, but sometimes, there is just a bigger enemy. Sadly, I think that might be my own bank. My mega-rant, however, seems to be over the expectation that I might be treated well by a company that I expect to handle finances for me, and that they would do so responsibly. I am pretty much complaining about their failure to meet the same standards of conduct that I would hold say, a supermarket or restaurant to. You make a mistake, you make it right. Fast.

Unions are crazy. Big news related to B of A and Teachers’ Unions draws that picture pretty well…last week, the Chicago Teachers Union blasted out an email urging members to sever all ties with Bank of America. The email entitled “Boycott Bank of America” blames Bank of America for the calamity of low interest rates.

Let’s look at some quotable lines here:

“Banks like Bank of America were active in manipulating the real estate market with slick stock strategies that blew up in all of our faces in 2008,” the missive explains. “Their irresponsible actions caused a recession and forced the Federal Reserve to bring interests rates down around zero percent. As a result, cities like Chicago lost money on its bet that interest rates would rise, while the banks — which caused the collapse of interest rates — profited.”

In a flyer attached to the email (further explaining the Bank of America conspiracy theory), the Chicago Teachers Union announces — in all-capital letters — that “BANKS CRASH THE ECONOMY.” Seriously, you should click that link…it’s amazing. I love a good Conspiracy Theory, and that seems insane to me. In-sane.

Under the all-caps heading “BANKS LIKE BANK OF AMERICA CAUSED CITY, SCHOOLS TO LOSE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS,” the union proclaims that crooked bankers “crashed the economy, cost us millions of jobs, took our homes and our retirements, and eventually got bailed out with taxpayer money.” Okay…that’s all agreed, and fact…but also very old news. I’m mad at Bank of America too…but this seems about seven years late on the draw, Chicago Teachers Union. For those of us not up on the specifics, The angry email and flyer are likely referring to fraud charges against Bank of America which resulted in billions in claims and penalties against the bank for the sale of allegedly toxic mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored mortgage corporations. Bank of America has settled some claims against it but continues to dispute others.

Clearly, though…an entire Union in a major American city calling for a boycott is a Big Deal. I don’t really agree with the viewpoint of that Union, but I am most probably going to be starting such a personal boycott myself, because of Inherent Big Business Crumminess.

There is obviously no shortage of hatred for the biggest banks here in America. Being very reasonable (which is sometimes a chore for me, and apparently impossible for Teachers’ Unions) here are a few reasons to take your money out of Bank of America – and park it at a credit union or community bank near you. And yes, that may be nearly impossible if you have a mortgage with them, as refinancing away from any big bank nowadays is a @#$%ing nightmare. Being a teacher, I don’t have such problems as “home ownership,” since that is Big Money.

1. B of A rejects the right of customers to protest. When two protesters in California marched into a local Bank of America to close their accounts, the response was, “You cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time,” followed by a threat to call the police if the women didn’t leave. Also, Bank of America charges a fee for closing an account. You want to boycott, or exercise financial freedom? Nope…they fine you for that. This prompted Brad Miller of North Carolina), who resides in Bank of America’s headquarters state, to introduce a bill to protect customers from such fees.

A bill needed to be introduced to stop that predatory practice.

2. Bank of America was charged (along with JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo) with colluding with the two major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, to keep ATM fees high; in other words, they were charged with “price-fixing,” in direct opposition to antitrust laws. This is the third of three such suits filed recently, each seeking class action status.

3. Bank of America leads the “big bank fraud lawsuit settlement tally.” A quick cursory news search showed that it has racked up the largest settlement, $8.5 billion in June 2011, to settle claims related to $100 billion worth of Countrywide-spun mortgage securities backed by faulty loans, with huge investors like Pimco, BlackRock, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

4. Even after lawsuits, B of A would still rather please investors than customers. See…that was my beef, but here I’m backing it up with research, like I tell my students to do. Investors that won money in the $8.5 billion settlement were upset that B of A was continuing to service loans, instead of foreclosing on them more quickly. Now, B of A has a nasty incentive to kick people out of homes faster, rather than work with them to refinance or restructure mortgages. Nice…real nice.

5. Check this one…Bank of America, despite having been buoyed up by the government, did not pay taxes during the whole economic debacle. Not only did the bank pay no federal taxes for 2010 (or 2009!) by making use of its posted pre-tax loss of $5.4 billion, it actually cited a tax benefit of $1 billion. I pay taxes, and the US Government isn’t bailing me out of my student loan debt. That’s just crazy to me, and hits me where I live, in the Grinding Debt Bone.

So there you go…some good reasons to tell Bank of America that you too, might just be unhappy with them, and they need to clean up their act with the people that give them money to invest. You can be sure I’ll be citing this article as I talk to some Suit Wearing Goblin about the missing ATM card, and that it seemed like they straight up lied to my face on Wednesday. Hopefully, that Truth Blast will knock his smug looking glasses right of his face.

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