Bank-transfer season 2012

The New Bottom Line project says “Bank Transfer Season 2012 Kicks Off in San Francisco“:

Yesterday, clergy in San Francisco announced plans to divest $10 million from Wells Fargo.

40 clergy from across San Francisco gathered outside the headquarters of Wells Fargo to call on the bank to put an immediate freeze on all foreclosure activity and conduct broad-based principal reduction for underwater homeowners.  It came just days after the San Francisco recorder-assessor, Phil Ting, released a report casting doubt on the legality of 85% of the foreclosure activity taking place in the city. The clergy were joined by another 50 community leaders.

The event was held on Ash Wednesday in the Christian liturgical calendar, the start of the Lenten season, and included a clear call to the bank to “repent” and atone for their misconduct.  One of the clergy-persons, Rev. Gloria del Castillo, gave testimony about her own experience of going through foreclosure with Wells Fargo, despite being a faithful client of the bank for more than three decades.  She then proceeded to sprinkle ashes on the sidewalk in front of the bank.

The New Bottom Line project is a faith-based effort urging churches and other religous groups to Move Our Money — shifting their accounts from too-big-to-give-a-fig mega-banks and into community-based local banks and credit unions.

Again, think George Bailey vs. Old Man Potter. That’s the Great American Story appealed to directly by the similarly named Move Your Money project, summarized in this video:

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The Move Your Money project is a nonprofit campaign that encourages individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions. Little has changed to prevent another financial crisis or to end “Too Big To Fail,” and with Congress unwilling to act, we are encouraging individuals to take power into their own hands by voting with their dollars and no longer contributing to a financial system that has led our country astray. We are a campaign that gives people real, concrete actions they can take to create a more sane, stable and localized banking system.

This works. It transfers our own money to places where it works to help us all, rather than being siphoned away to line Potter’s pockets and to pay the lobbyists that help to make sure it always will.

But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what’s wrong with that? Why … here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You … you said … what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they … Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about … they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!

Some additional helpful resources:

 

 

  • Anonymous

    I’m happy to say that both churches I’ve served had their money in local banks.  The first was in Montana where almost everyone had their money in either the local bank or credit union.  We were far, far away from any major city, so that meant we were far, far away from any major banks.

    Now in my second parish in a much larger town (about 48 times larger than my small town in Montana and with stop lights, restaurants and traffic jams), we also have our money in a local bank, even though Bank of America and Chase are options.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Wow, when you see clergypeople in San Francisco spending their time and effort trying to improve actual people’s lives and minimize poverty, it sure does make those clergypeople who are spending their time and effort fighting for their right to discriminate against women look even more embarrassing.

  • Anonymous

    The idea that local banks and credit unions are somehow ‘better’ is utterly laughable.  They’re driven by the same profit motives and shackled by the same laws.  Plus, the credit card and mortgage you get from them are nothing more than re-branded affiliate programs of the same big banks you’re trying to move away from.

    Even if they do hold your paper, rather than re-selling, don’t believe for a second they won’t foreclose on you.

    George Bailey is dead.  The 1930′s were in another century.  Grow up and deal with it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In Canada, many credit unions ARE local precisely because the banks made sure they couldn’t go national. Joke’s on you.

  • Lori

     
    The idea that local banks and credit unions are somehow ‘better’ is utterly laughable.  They’re driven by the same profit motives and shackled by the same laws.  Plus, the credit card and mortgage you get from them are nothing more than re-branded affiliate programs of the same big banks you’re trying to move away from.  

     

    It seems like you need to do a bit more research, either on credit unions or on major banks because you’ve reduced the situation to a false equivalence. 

     
    Even if they do hold your paper, rather than re-selling, don’t believe for a second they won’t foreclose on you.  

     
    The issue is not that banks foreclose, its that for some of them foreclosing illegally has become standard practice. Hint: it’s not credit unions and community banks. 

     George Bailey is dead.  The 1930′s were in another century.  Grow up and deal with it.  

    FSM save us from misinformation, false equivalence and cynicism masquerading as maturity. 

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    It seems like you need to do a bit more research, either on credit
    unions or on major banks because you’ve reduced the situation to a
    false equivalence.

    Hey, hey, be fair – he might need to more research on both!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    I’d been thinking about making the switch to a credit union for a while, but had been lazy about it.  I didn’t feel motivated, as I’ve been with the same bank – Capital One, though it was Chevy Chase before that – for almost 9 years, and they’d always been relatively decent to me, and they’re fairly convenient for me in terms of branch locations and whatnot.
    Then they pissed me off, so I got motivated.
    I haven’t made the switch yet, as I’ve been waiting for my (substantial) tax refund and annual bonus to be in my account so that I end up transferring away a relatively large sum of money. Tax refund is in place, so now it’s a matter of waiting until next payday for the bonus…
    It’s just one little bit of spite that they probably won’t even notice, but it pleases me.

  • Mary Kaye

    I currently have an account at BoA and an account at Washington State Employees Credit Union.

    I have needed recourse to customer service at both institutions.  At WSECU the local people are friendly and helpful.  At BoA they are friendly but cannot be helpful because they are essentially powerless–everything that really needs to be done is done on a larger level (regional? national?) and that part of the enterprise is constitutionally unhelpful.  So if I try to close one of my accounts, the local people are sympathetic but cannot prevent BoA from depositing a few pennies into the closed account and then fining me for being under minimum balance.

    So, there is a BIG difference between a small bank and a big bank–in terms of who is actually dealing with your problems, and how motivated they are to fix your problems.  WSECU is small enough that the people making the decisions and the people whose real-life customer I am are pretty much the same.  BoA is not, and the people on the ground seem helpless in the face of their bureaucratic behemoth.

    I will get out of BoA as soon as I safely can.  First I have to disentangle myself from a dishonest gym which has auto-payments from the BoA account and doesn’t want to let go of them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, we’re all supposed to sit in awe of how cool and cynical and realistic you are about this, right?

    Some local banks are bad, but the one I’ve been using ever since I came of age has been great. Good service, very, very few fees, online stuff, etc, etc, all the stuff that a bank should be without the special Bank of America highway robbery treatment. Better banks are out there sometimes.

  • Dan Audy

    It costs a few dollars but you can typically get a ‘Stop Payment’ to a particular institution put on your account.  If you can provide documentation showing that you’ve cancelled service with them and then been charged again some banks (mine at least) will reverse the charge and put a ‘Stop Payment’ on that business for free.  I did run into some trouble with a bank affiliate insurance program though because they couldn’t successfully stop payment because it counted as an internal charge though eventually (after trying to cancel 4 times and continuing to get recharged) the bank manager personally called up their affiliate and threatened to cancel all programs if they continued to illegally charge customers for cancelled services.

  • Tricksterson

    Wonder if there’s an overlap between the two groups.  Maybe it’s not as black and white as you think.  Or maybe it is.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Our household is finally severing our ties to Wells Fargo and moving down the road — literally! it’s a block away — to the local credit union that our good friends have been very happy with. We’ve been meaning to do it for some time, but it took WF instituting “because we can” fees last autumn to motivate us enough to get the ball rolling.

    The first step was closing my personal account, which they decided had had enough time being grandfathered in as “free” and started applying a monthly fee too. I rolled it over to the household account, which, thanks to a monthly direct deposit, was not fee bearing.

    Then my husband changed jobs, which took care of the whole “reroute your direct deposits” thing. During his week between jobs, we walked up to the credit union and opened a checking, savings, and credit card account.

    (While there, we ran into an old gaming friend we hadn’t seen in years. Apparently he works there. I personally interpret synchronicity like this as the universe telling me “Hey, you’re on the right track.” Your mileage may vary.)

    Now I’m just waiting for the last checks to clear out of the old account, and for our automatic insurance payments to go through correctly from the new account. Then I’ll head downtown, grab John for a lunch break, and wander into WF and tell them we’re closing all our accounts with them.

    We’re super excited about it.

  • Brandi

    Are you trying to be Frank with us, Derek? ‘Cause I really hope you aren’t.

  • Taterbrains

    I’ll get right on that as soon as making some stupid moral point becomes more important than being able to get cash without paying  several dollars in fees each time.

  • Lori

    I am struck by the lovely irony of your screen name. 

    -Fred is not talking about a “stupid moral point”, he’s basically talking about self-defense for the majority of people.

    -There may be some people who would pay higher total fees by switching away from one of the really huge banks. You may be one of them. If so, fine. I don’t see that that’s any reason to get all pissy, but whatever dude. 

  • Anonymous

    Haha, did Taterbrains create an account just to post that? Has this guy ever even looked into opening a credit union account? All three of the CUs I’ve been a part of have been a part of the Co-op network, and I can withdraw from any co-op ATM with no charge. They’re ubiquitous (every 7-11′s ATM is a Co-op, plus plenty of other ATMs). Besides that… who uses cash anymore?

    So the monthly fees I pay between 2 CUs is… zero. As opposed to the big banks, which feel like they can charge you fees for pretty much whatever they like. Services are vastly superior to Chase, which is who I had before, and when Chase arbitrarily decided it could charge me monthly fees because the company I worked for didn’t provide direct deposit to non-corporate employees, I bailed.

    Also, in response to Derek, part of the point of credit unions is that they aren’t as profit motivated as the big banks. They’re legally non-profit institutions. Every member of a credit union is part owner of that credit union. The institution is there to serve its members, not the other way around.

    In short… do basic research, trolls.

  • Anonymous

    We got rid of WF for nearly all intents and purposes about a year ago and it has been blissful. I think the spouse may still have a savings account at WF, but that’s it. It took about 3 months to clear out all the automatic payments and make sure everything was transferred over, but it’s been ridiculously wonderful.

    Spouse was very resentful about losing the “convenience” of having three WF ATMs on every single block, but he got on board a few months ago when a cascade of bad circumstances almost lost us our car and one of the CU loan officers sat down with the branch manager to hammer out a custom loan program just for us, so that despite our bad credit rating we could keep the car (and thus, among other things, the joint custody arrangement). We’ll be paying it back for at least another two years, but we have a fully legal, fully functional car that’s ours free and clear, and they have customers for life.

    When we walked away from the last meting with the loan officer, spouse just kept shaking his head and saying, “I’ve been with Wells Fargo since 1985. They would NEVER have done what that woman just did after us being her for six months.” There was no reason for anyone at the CU to do it but basic decency and unwillingness to further screw people on the edge. If all they’d done was not screw us, we still would have been grateful; but they did so much more.

    And, shallowly, all through the cold wet winter they had free hot coffee and milk and fresh-baked cookies in the lobby of the main branch! I love them with little sparkly hearts.

    So, in short, congrats on being about to get out from under WF’s thumb, and I wish you and your household an abundance of cookies.

  • P J Evans

     The credit union will probably pay more interest on your money than that TBTF bank you may be using right now. And their credit-card interest rate will be much lower.

  • P J Evans

    Those networks are a good thing, too, because the CU branch I’ve been using is disappearing Saturday evening, when the supermarket it’s in closes permanently. (It’s a shock to everyone – we only found out this week.) Fortunately there are three other CUs with branches in the area, and mine is going to be looking for a new location, but I’m going to miss the market, too.

  • Taterbrains

    Actually didn’t have to create any sort of account, which is pretty convenient.  Just provide a name and a throwaway E-Mail address and you’re golden.

    Does the flexibility of these credit unions and their surcharge free ATMs extend outside the immediate geographic area?  Because I bank with Wells Fargo primarily because I can actually find an ATM all across the country.

    Fred, and the clergy of that San Francisco church, were advocating people leave big banks because of their unscrupulous actions and their affiliation with big Wall Street investment firms, not because of poor customer service or anything like that.  I’ve been completely happy with the service at Wells Fargo and Wachovia before it, in the 8 years I’ve been banking with them.  I know it’s inconceivable that one could actually be happy with a large bank, but hey, that’s what happens when business is just business and you don’t go turning every mundane interaction into some crusade for social justice.

  • Lori

     
     but hey, that’s what happens when business is just business and you don’t go turning every mundane interaction into some crusade for social justice. 

     

    Have you per chance been in a coma for the last 4 years or so? 

  • Anonymous

    It varies from one credit union to another, but I know mine is surcharge-free around the world (any surcharges tacked on by the other guys are refunded by the CU within 24 hours). Not universal, but some of them definitely do it. 

    Also, What Lori Said.

    Good customer service, in my experiences with my CU vs. my experiences with WF, is very, very tightly tied to business philosophies. If you’re well enough off that your bank is lovely and courteous to you, then that’s awesome and congratulations to you for your good fortune, but don’t imagine that should your situation become more precarious the good customer service will continue for more than about another millisecond or so.

  • Lori

     
    Spouse was very resentful about losing the “convenience” of having three WF ATMs on every single block, but he got on board a few months ago when a cascade of bad circumstances almost lost us our car and one of the CU loan officers sat down with the branch manager to hammer out a custom loan program just for us, so that despite our bad credit rating we could keep the car (and thus, among other things, the joint custody arrangement). We’ll be paying it back for at least another two years, but we have a fully legal, fully functional car that’s ours free and clear, and they have customers for life. 

     

    I love your CU on your behalf, if for no other reason than I know at least a bit about how critical that joint custody arrangement is. I’m so happy that they were willing and able to help you. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah; the main custody beneficiary is here tonight, courtesy of the shiny good-as-new car, and has spent the evening bouncing the second marriage product on his lap and teaching her how to headbang to early 90s Pearl Jam, so I’ve got to say that the credit union has been one big win.

    (Bonus Custody Beneficiary Quote Of The Day: Have you ever heard of a band called AC/DC? They’re really good!)

  • Lori

     
    (Bonus Custody Beneficiary Quote Of The Day: Have you ever heard of a band called AC/DC? They’re really good!)  

     

    I adore main custody beneficiary stories. He’s the best.  

  • Anonymous

    Does the flexibility of these credit unions and their surcharge free ATMs extend outside the immediate geographic area?

    Does the flexibility of your web browser extend to accessing Google? Yes, the network exists outside of my geographic area. It exists outside of my country.

    Also, I withdrew some money just an hour ago, surcharge free, at the grocery store. There is no practical inconvenience to using a credit union as opposed to a TBTF bank.

    As per your last paragraph: do you know what the point of boycotts and economic sanctions are? Pro-tip: they both try to accomplish the same thing – effecting change through purchasing power. Business isn’t just business, when the way businesses behave can destroy our entire economy.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

     

    Because I bank with Wells Fargo primarily because I can actually find an ATM all across the country.

    I couldn’t find a damn one east of the Mississippi. At least, not in Chicago (where I am frequently betweeen trains) and not in the New Orleans area (where I visit my family).

    WF Mortgage branches, yeah, but no ATMs.

    We ended up with Wells Fargo because WF ate up First Interstate, the bank I got my first Mine! All Mine! account with when I went to Seattle for college. Inertia kept us there until now.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Thanks! I’m not sure about the cookies, but the CU branch has coffee and tea in abundance. True, the tea is just Celestial Seasonings*, and the coffee is Boyer’s despite there being several good local roasters to choose from. But I get the sense that they would not be entirely deaf to suggestions in this area.

    *Yes, I know — they’re Boulder’s pride and joy! But their “Earl Grey” not only doesn’t taste like Earl Grey, it barely tastes like tea. It’s not like Boulder has no other tea purveyors!

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

     Chase Mastercard … gives me Amtrak Guest Reward points.

    I may have to look into that – I might actually use Amtrak rewards.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    I know it’s inconceivable that one could actually be happy with a large bank, but hey, that’s what happens when business is just business and you don’t go turning every mundane interaction into some crusade for social justice.

    Hey, it’s super-neato that you’re financially comfortable enough to not have to worry about predatory banking practices, but as has already been said, for people who aren’t, having options outside of the TBTF banks is a matter of survival.

    I mean, the impression I’m getting is that your reaction to the actual, tangible human misery and poverty created by those predatory banking practices is this, and that’s certainly your right. You’re not legally obligated to give a fuck about people who live outside your comfy middle-class bubble, but should you choose not to, don’t expect us to be impressed by how smart and worldly you think you are.

  • Lori

     
    Hey, it’s super-neato that you’re financially comfortable enough to not have to worry about predatory banking practices, but as has already been said, for people who aren’t, having options outside of the TBTF banks is a matter of survival. 

    This is actually my main problem with Taterbrains post. Unless he’s in the top 1%, or he’s lower on the economic ladder but in a job that feeds off the recession in some way, he isn’t financially comfortable enough not to worry about the  predatory practices of TBTF banks. They nearly sank the global economy. 

    If Taterbrains thinks that ATMs are more important than that, that’s his right. However, the idea that as long as they’re not directly screwing you the TBTF banks aren’t hurting you is just false. 

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Enjoying this ad placement:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10363832/lulz.png

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    You’re being silly! Wealthy aristocrats spend a lot of time posting on blogs!

  • Anonymous

    More of those “San Fancisco Values”, I see, with all the helping people and the standing up to evil and the compassion. >rolleyes< We don't need any San Francisco values in our Real America™!

    I bet some people in S.F. even have icky types of sex. Ick.