Hurricane Sandy struck on Monday, October 29. By 1:03a, Tuesday, October 30, I received an email from Wells Fargo stating late fees would be waived on credit cards, consumer and certain small business loans, including home-equity, auto and student loans. What a nice gesture towards those hit by Sandy.
The email also advised me that “Fees normally charged to you for using another bank’s ATMs when you use another bank’s ATM in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut” will be waived.
Wow, Wells Fargo! Really earning some consumer brownie points. These two acts of financial compassion during a disaster will ultimately affect their income, but this was the least they could do to “help during these difficult times.”
But then, 24 hours later, I receive an email from Bank of America.
Actually, it was 23 hours and 57 minutes later to be exact. Bank of America attempts to show similar compassion, and it may seem so at initial consideration.
BofA has graciously offered to increase existing lines of credit on their Visa and MasterCards. Nice, right? Not really. BofA will earn more from the interest on a larger outstanding balance (a.k.a. you pay more).
Next act of compassion; they’re willing to “Modify or extend payments on loans, credit cards or lines of credit.” Meaning more time for interest to accrue, so they make even more money off of this disaster.
Sure, they go onto offer similar items in their “Customer Assistance Program” as Wells Fargo, but those are evidently the lowest priority (last bullet). Notice also, the sentence preceding the details of the assistance program states you “may” qualify. So don’t start taking early withdrawals on your CD’s (bullet 4) until you know you qualify.
Just an hour after the BofA email came one from Chase. It was a very heartfelt email offering refunds on fees of all sorts.
The only potential money making sceme is no “Overdraft Protection Transfer, Extended Overdraft, Returned Item and Insufficient Funds Fees for deposit accounts.” Translation, they won’t penalize you right away for overdrafting, but you’ll pay for it eventually via the interest accrued on the amount advanced.
Each bank sent at least one followup email that I won’t scrutinize now. We can save that for tomorrow.
It’s encouraging to see large corporations take actions to support customers during this distressing time. However, it’s very discouraging that our accumulative personal assets/liabilities situation require certain people to take cash advances, extend credit lines, etc. to recover. What happened to saving three months worth of expenses for times of crisis?!
To be honest, I haven’t done this for myself…yet! So I’ll make an early 2013 resolution to save three months worth of expenses in an easily liquefiable savings account. That way when disaster crosses my path, I won’t have to accept BofA deceitful compassion.