Just one month ago I wrote about the implementation of debit card fees coming into play for big banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and most notably Bank of America.
Due to the change in a new government regulation that caps what banks can charge merchants for debit transactions they announced plans to implement a monthly debit card fee to help recoup it’s revenue that would be lost due to the new regulation.
What I did not report on is what I saw escalate after I wrote this article and the news hit the public about these upcoming changes.
In my personal life I saw little by little people would post one thing or another about this on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. “I can’t believe Bank of America!!” and “Those greedy bastards!” became the norm in my news feed.
At one point a good friend of mine posted a link to the Change.org petition to “Tell Bank of America: No $5 Debit Card Fees!”
At first I rolled my eyes at this thinking, “yeah, okay, what good is this petition going to do?” I even commented on this thread saying that while I thought it was a valiant effort it wasn’t really going to do anything in the long run; big banks are NOT going to budge. In my mind I thought this petition to be silly and foolish. I thought that this creator, Molly Katchpole, was an excellent person for standing up for what she believed in but ultimately felt like she was wasting her time.
The petition read:
Bank of America, the largest bank in the U.S., will begin charging customers $5 each month to use their debit card to make purchases. This is an outrageous fee.
What’s worse is that Bank of America’s decision to charge customers for debit card use will likely spread to other banks. Wells Fargo and Chase bank have already announced plans to test a $3 monthly fee to their customers.
Not everyone will pay the fee (at least not at first). If you have $20,000 in combined balances at BofA or have a mortgage with the bank, they’ll waive the $5 monthly fee. That means this change will hit low income customers the worst – including people like me, a recent college graduate working two part-time jobs.
When the recession first hit, we gave Bank of America billions of dollars in bailout money. Our reward is higher fees for the same services. At some point, we’ve got to say enough is enough.
Please join me in telling Bank of America you’re fed up. Sign my petition calling on BofA CEO Brian Moynihan to swiftly reverse the bank’s decision to charge us $5 a month to use our own debit cards – Source.
And now, I sit here, feeling a little foolish. Quite possibly a lot of foolish. For you see, that petition really skyrocketed. REALLY skyrocketed. So far over 300,000 people have signed the petition and as of October 28, 2011 it was reported by an unnamed source that Bank of America plans to revise this new fee plan and make it easier for customer’s to avoid the fees. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both announced they would be putting their debit card fee programs to rest and have canceled plans to charge customers for their debit cards.
On October 28, 2011 ABC World News with Diane Swayer covered the story and broke the news to many of Americans that the impending debit card fee structure would soon be revised.
A play by play of this entire process can be seen below:
September 29: Bank of America announces a new $5 monthly debit card fee.
September 30: Molly creates her petition on Change.org; more than 150,000 people sign in the next 5 days.
October 5: The petition becomes a major national story. ABC News interviews Molly, then tracks down Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan and forces him to respond to it.
October 6: Molly delivers 153,000 petitions to Bank of America and closes her account. She appears on ABC World News again to discuss the petition. Local media in Charlotte (where Bank of America is based) openly speculate that the growing controversy could lead to the firing of Moynihan.
October 9: Molly is featured in a major article in the New York Times as an example of the public’s frustration with big banks.
October 10: Bank of America executive Andrew Plepler calls Molly Katchpole to discuss her petition.
October 13: Molly meets with Congressman Brad Miller to discuss a bill in Congress to make it easier to switch banks. The two later appear on CNN together.
October 18: Molly’s petition reaches 225,000, as Bank of America reports a $6 billion profit. The outrage continues to grow.
October 26: Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says he’s ‘incensed’ over recent criticism of the bank fees
October 27: JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in America, and Wells Fargo announce they will stop testing $3 debit card fees and cancel any plans to charge customers to use their debit cards.
October 28: Bank of America begins a full-on retreat from the $5 debit card fee. An unnamed source at the bank says they will ‘soften’ the fee and allow more customers – including anyone with a direct deposit – to avoid the $5 fee. Molly appears on ABC World News for the fourth time to talk about her petition.
October 30: Molly’s Change.org petition reaches 300,000 signatures, and customers continue to demand that Bank of America cancel the $5 fee for all of its customers – Source.
This one woman with one voice just quite possibly changed the future of our banking system.
While I do think that the big banks will continue search for another way to nickel and dime customers due to their impending loss of revenue from the new merchants cap today we stand in awe of the underdog, Molly Katchpole, well done.