Occupy Santa Cruz: Bank of America Threatens to Arrest Customers Trying to Close Their Accounts

“You can’t be a customer and a protestor.”

This is bananas.  From Stephen Foster at Addicting Info:

Two protesters involved with Occupy Santa Cruz in California walked into Bank of America earlier this week to close their own accounts as part of the national protest against the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street, which has only seen it’s profits soar since it nearly collapsed the economy back in 2008… Rather than allow their customers to close their accounts, they told them that “you can not be a protester and a customer at the same time.” The bank manager threatened to lock the doors and call the police to have their own customers arrested for the simple act of requesting the closure of their own accounts. The two women left the bank and called the police. The officer went into the bank and after talking to the manager, relayed a message to them. According to the bank manager, “If they came in with the signs and they were part of the protest earlier, then they are protesters and cannot be customers at the same time.”

Just as Citibank’s statement regarding its arrest of protestors at a branch in New York was an epic PR failure, so was Bank of America’s response to the arrests in Santa Cruz:

It is our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for customers to conduct financial transactions.  So, due to the disruptive nature of protests lately and the potential for safety or security issues, we do not allow protestors inside of our banking centers.  If a customer who is participating in a protest wishes to conduct bank business, including close an account, we ask them to come back when they are not protesting or they may also conduct their bank business at a nearby branch away from protest activities.”

Apparently, Bank of America’s PR department does not yet understand the nature of this protest (or of protest in general.)  Signage and accessories do not make the protest.  I hate to sound schmaltzy, but the protest comes from within.  If those women had gone back to the bank the following day, sans signs, they would still be protesting.

Bank of America is not doing itself any favors with this sort of PR failure.  Moreover, it seems to me Bank of America is opening itself up to liability here.  As Stephen Foster points out:

 Banks are just looking for ANY excuse to keep the money they have in their banks. It shouldn’t matter if these folks are protesters or not. If you walk into a bank and request that your account be closed, the bank should give you your money and close the account. These banks are illegally holding the money these customers deposited, and they are willing to have their own customers arrested rather than give up money they want to gamble with. The police are arresting the wrong people.

As an aside, it cracks me up that the white girl gives the BofA employee the old “Oh HAIL no!!” (that’s how I would have spelled it — not “Oh hellllllll no!”; it’s ok to go phonetic, FYI).

Anyway, rock on, sisters; and well-done you banana slugs.

[via Addicting Info]

[cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

128 replies
  1. 1
    Marty says:

    Okay, well I was on the fence about closing my own BoA account. This settles it.

  2. 2
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Hoo boy, very soon now the banks are going to be getting some really frantic advice from legal counsel that sounds like “oh my GOD shutupshutupshutup!!!” with distressed waving of hands. I assume the lawyers are already doing all that, but the braying, entitled shitheads who are making decisions like saying “You can’t be a protester and a customer at the same time” haven’t noticed.

    Also too, it’s hard to imagine anything more offensive than a claim like “you can’t be a customer and a protestor” to what should be, but isn’t, the Libertarian mindset. Curious to see what the glibs have to say about this.

  3. 3
    Paul in KY says:

    A person who banks at ‘Bank of America’ is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders (sort of stolen from JC Watt’s dad).

  4. 4
    Mnemosyne says:

    I closed my account with BofA 15 years ago in favor of a regional bank, and I’ve never regretted it. Though, ironically, my “regional bank” is now part of the 8th largest bank in the world, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. Sigh.

  5. 5
    KG says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: actually, in my experience in litigating against banks, their attorneys are usually bigger dicks than the banks themselves. Their typical mindset is “we have all the money, we can do whatever we want, fuck you.”

  6. 6
    brandon says:

    “You can not be a protester and a customer at the same time.”

    “THAT’S THE WHOLE IDEA!”

  7. 7
    Percysowner says:

    If you can’t be a customer and a protester at the same time, then the only logical response is to ask protesters to remove their money from the bank. The money DOES belong to the people holding accounts not BOA. If BOA doesn’t want people who don’t like them to be customers, then they should sever legal ties, not steal from their former customers.

  8. 8
    rikryah says:

    you can’t close your account?

    G-T-F-O-H

    this is getting pretty funny.

    thank goodness for the phone video camera

  9. 9
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @KG: I’m sorry to hear that. I suppose I’m a wishful thinker (and I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of cool attorneys and not very many asshole ones.)

  10. 10
    JGabriel says:

    Gulden’s Mustard is an upper-class affectation showing how out of touch Obama is with the middle-class and white people. Real Americans fly sushi into the Mid-West from Japan, for Christmas Dinner:

    It’s safe to say the [Sean] Duffy family is a bit more Hollywood than most in his Wisconsin district. Duffy is a former star of MTV’s Real World and his wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy, is a TV star herself. Democrats snickered when this video of Campos-Duffy explaining her family’s tradition of flying in sushi meat for Christmas was posted online…
    __
    And so … the Democratic allies at House Majority PAC are ribbing Duffy about the sushi stuff as well. Republicans say that’s just kind of silly.
    __
    “These are exactly the types of childish political attacks that take the focus off of the number one challenge facing Wisconsin middle-class families, and that’s creating jobs,” the NRCC’s Andrea Bozek told TPM.

    .

  11. 11
    Scott P. says:

    Also too, it’s hard to imagine anything more offensive than a claim like “you can’t be a customer and a protestor” to what should be, but isn’t, the Libertarian mindset. Curious to see what the glibs have to say about this.

    Libertarians have no problem with the claim that “you can’t be black and a customer”, so I don’t see how this would be any different.

  12. 12
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Scott P.: True enough.

  13. 13
    Lizzy L says:

    I opened an account at my local credit union two weeks ago, even though I was informed that I will not be subject to the $5 a month service charge for using my own money in my own checking account, because I have a BofA mortgage. Over the next year I plan to move all my bill pays, etc to the credit union, and close that BofA account. Solidarity.

  14. 14
    Keith G says:

    ABL, all Skank of America was doing was banning comments from their thread bank that they did not like. You can understand that.

  15. 15
    cathyx says:

    The protesting is a fantastic way to wake everyone up about this huge problem in this country. Now if we really want to put a dent into the bank’s control over our lives, we need to kick them where it counts. And that is done by moving our money to small local banks and credit unions. Once there is a mass exodus of money away from them, they will finally start listening to us.

  16. 16
    LM says:

    My home town! I live just uphill from that BofA branch… wish I’d been downtown then to kvell in realtime.

  17. 17
    KG says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: I’d say most attorneys are fairly decent people. But I’ve litigated some cases where the banks had a lot on the line (forfeiture under TILA, for example) and they’ve basically taken an attitude of “piss off you ungrateful bastard!” I had one actually laugh at me when I told him we were going to seek forfeiture. Granted, I then embarrassed his ass at a mediation when I started running off the law and he had no idea what I was talking about (better part, in house counsel was also there and had no idea what I was talking about). A week later I got a letter from them saying “we looked at the law, we disagree with your interpretation.” Which was a nice lawyerly way of saying “fuck you, we don’t care if the law is on your side.”

    There’s an old saying that when you have the law on your side, you pound the law, when you have the facts on your side, you pound the facts, and when you have neither, you pound the table. That’s what they do, and they don’t care one fucking bit… and it doesn’t help that judges have been very reluctant to drop the hammer on them either (which, I think is a big part of the problem).

  18. 18
    The Moar You Know says:

    Of all the places I would have thought something like this could have happened, the very last place in the country would have been my hometown, Santa Cruz.

    B of A has stuck their collective dicks in a lawnmower.

  19. 19
    Culture of Truth says:

    I’d like to make a video carrying a mattress into a Bank of America branch saying “I want to close my account. Put all my money in this.”

  20. 20
    Ash Can says:

    @JGabriel: Lulz — I saw that earlier on TPM. Personally, it’s OK by me if they do something special for a Christmas treat. But for shit’s sake, don’t turn around then and cry poor to me the way this asshole did to his constituents. That’s what makes him an ass, and that’s what makes this Dem ad funny.

  21. 21
    The Moar You Know says:

    Once there is a mass exodus of money away from them, they will finally start listening to us having their pet congresscritters pass laws making the movement of money from one bank to another illegal, under the guise of anti-terrorism laws.

    @cathyx: FTFY. It will happen, bet money on it. The bank scum control the politics of the nation. They haven’t even begun to fight this yet.

  22. 22
    mistermix says:

    @Keith G: Actually, I think you misinterpreted the video. The BoA manager was acting like an asshole, which I’m sure you can appreciate.

  23. 23
    Gwiwer says:

    This was pretty fun to watch. I never thought I’d ever get to see video of an inverse bank robbery.

  24. 24
    Jay in Oregon says:

    I kicked my push to get my credit card transferred to another bank and away from Bank of America into high gear because of crap like this, and the $5 monthly surcharge for debit card holders, but most especially when I was organizing and filing my financial paperwork.

    BofA hid a little addendum to their cardholder agreement which was updated a couple of months ago; the establishment of a “penalty APR” which, if I am ever late with a payment, they will happily reassign me to.

    The APR? 29.99%, almost double my actual current APR.
    How long would I be subject to the penalty APR? Indefinitely.

    That’s right, if you’re ever late with or miss a Bank of America credit card payment, they will bend you over the table and keep you there until your account is paid in full. (Which, given that payments will skyrocket as a result, could take years longer.)

    So, in conclusion, Fuck Bank of America. Fuck them with a rusty chainsaw. I will transferring my balance to another credit card ASAP, and hell will freeze over before I give BofA — or whoever buys their shitty bank when it collapses, as it most assuredly will — another penny of my business.

    I may play the balance transfer shuffle until I get it paid off, then get a small CC with my credit union for emergencies.

  25. 25
    Jay C says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    It’s more likely that the decision not to accept the customers’ withdrawal(s) – still more the inane comment accompanying it – was the branch manager’s on his own; i.e., it’s the local yokel in charge’s call, not corporate policy AFACBD.

    That said, shit like this can’t be going over very well at Headquarters; assuming they even know about it: Big as B of A is, the last thing they need is more bad PR from acting like assholes: especially over “protests”. If I were one of those folks refused service, I would be having my attorney making that very point to B of A’s management (and the local papers) in short order….

  26. 26

    almost makes me want to open a Boca account just so I can close it in solidarity.

  27. 27
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Lizzy L: I had a BofA mortgage with the “free!” checking account to go with it when I bought my house. We’ve refinanced twice, mainly to get the hell away from BofA. Twice the mortgage has been sold right back to them. It’s an octopus, and there’s no place beyond its reach.

  28. 28
    cathyx says:

    @The Moar You Know: Yes, the cynic in me agrees with you. Too much is at stake.

  29. 29
    RareSanity says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Also too, it’s hard to imagine anything more offensive than a claim like “you can’t be a customer and a protestor” to what should be, but isn’t, the Libertarian mindset. Curious to see what the glibs have to say about this.

    Glibertarian: “BoA was just exercising its freedom of speech as a “person” and its right to refuse service as a business!”

    Sane Person: “But by refusing to allow these people that were causing no distrubance, to close their account, BoA is in affect, stealing their money.”

    Glibertarian: “No they’re not! The bank manager told them that they could come back after the protest ended, or do it at another branch!”

    Sane Person: “But that’s not really the point…”

    Glibertarian: “It’s my point!”

    /snark

  30. 30
    RalfW says:

    Awesome! The pitch-perfect PR strategy for these peaceful, easy times of good will and harmony.

    Loving it.

    Alot.

  31. 31
    jibeaux says:

    They’re going to some effort to not be customers, aren’t they? Everyone wins.

  32. 32
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @mistermix: He was trying to poke ABL, not comment on the bank.

  33. 33
    cat says:

    Its probably time we go all Martin Luther on the TBTF banks and start ‘nailing’ some truths to the doors of their branches.

    Of course you’d probably get arrested for doing that, so we can’t have that.

  34. 34
    Roger Moore says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I’d like to make a video carrying a mattress into a Bank of America branch saying “I want to close my account. Put all my money in this.”

    Sure, and a bunch of people posting that kind of video on youtube is exactly what they’re trying to avoid. That’s what they really mean with the bit about not being a protester and a customer. If you want to come in and get customer service, you have to leave the signs and video cameras outside so they don’t look any more ridiculous than they already do.

  35. 35
    Zifnab says:

    Banks are just taking a page from the GOP playbook. They’ve taken the protesters’ money as hostage and will refuse to release it until the protesters stop protesting.

  36. 36
    Wordsmith says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I LOVE guerrilla theater!

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    The more I see people trying to cause problems for bank workers – tellers, managers, etc. aren’t the people, who bundle MBS and CDS and crashed the economy – the more I realize some of the protesters just want to be attention whores at best and dicks at worst.

    If the ladies want to close their accounts, there’s no reason to walk in with a sign and a friend video taping the visit to the bank. I’m surprised the manager didn’t call the police on their friend for video taping inside the bank (bank branches tend to be a bit more cautious, with regards to security than most places).

    If these guys want to stage a protest that made sense, find out where BoA does their trading in the Santa Cruz area and protest some big, shiny, building, where people buy and sell derivatives.

    The managers and tellers aren’t the people you need to be mad at.

  38. 38
    Shade Tail says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    That was pretty obvious. Also obviously, mastermix was poking him back.

  39. 39
    ABL says:

    @Keith G: wow, really? how long have you had that one in the hopper, buddy? next time, don’t workshop your insults on me. come at me with a finished product. that was sad, even for you.

  40. 40
    Ash Can says:

    @RareSanity: Glibertarian: “Those people need that bank. What if everyone withdrew their money? There’d be no bank. The people employed by the bank would be out of a job, and the people who used that bank would have to keep their money in cash at home where it would be stolen more easily, and there’d be no one to lend to businesses in the community — ”

    Sane Person: “They’d all just use a different bank, or a credit union, and with the extra business coming in the new place could expand and hire the old BofA people.”

    Glibertarian: “You’re oversimplifying it. You don’t read enough. Also too, the new bank wouldn’t be as good. Because shut up.”

    (Why yes, I have had real-life arguments like this. Why do you ask?)

  41. 41
    ABL says:

    @mistermix:

    which I’m sure you can appreciate.

    you have more faith in keith g.’s comprehension abilities than i do.

  42. 42
    John Weiss says:

    @The Moar You Know: I hope that that is true.

  43. 43
    Edo says:

    Now that BoA’s following the Nigerian example, I can officially say that my money would be safer with a Nigerian prince I met on the Internet.

  44. 44
    KG says:

    @Ash Can: I think that’s the essence of glibertarianism right there… a belief in a “free market” without understanding how said “free market” is actually suppose to work

  45. 45
    Edo says:

    The Citibank example. I fail at proofreading. Sorry.

  46. 46
    cat says:

    @gene108:

    The managers and tellers aren’t the people you need to be mad at.

    The managers yes, the tellers no.

    I’m sure the teller would have happily closed the accounts if the manager hadn’t followed ‘HQ’ policy on not letting protesters close their accounts.

    The manager had a choice, yet choose to side with the 1%.

  47. 47
    mistermix says:

    @ABL: I don’t know what the others here think, but my take is that B-J needs better quality trolls. The current crop is either unimaginative, diharreic or both.

  48. 48
    JGabriel says:

    @Ash Can:

    Personally, it’s OK by me if they do something special for a Christmas treat.

    Hey, if an anonymous someone in the top 1% wants to fly in raw fish for Christmas instead of contributing money to an education fund, that’s their prerogative.

    But if a top percenter Republican politician, after the GOP bitches about spicy mustard, wants to turn Japanese for Christmas dinner, then I’m happy, nay gleeful, to call him out on the Real American hypocrisy and class obliviousness.

    .

  49. 49
    Ash Can says:

    @KG: To them, the “free market” isn’t a textbook model of the workings of capitalism, it’s a religion. Accordingly, they see themselves as the anointed ones through their recognition and worship of The Truth, and the rest of us as pagans to be pitied or blasphemers to be shunned. The problem, of course, is that, too often, it results in real-life laws and policies that do an awful lot of harm to people.

  50. 50
    West of the Cascades says:

    Really dumb move by the local manager. I was trying to figure out last year whether to move my money from Chase (where it had gotten because I used to bank at Washington Mutual, which at one time was a local-ish bank), and move it to a smaller regional bank (a credit union won’t work for me because I have a small business account that needs a specialized account to hold client funds that no credit union offers) — and the small business manager in the local Chase branch said to me “look, the people who work here are your neighbors, too – we make loans in the local community, we write mortgages in the neighborhoods here. We’re as much of a local bank as [the small regional bank] is.”

    While he wasn’t entirely correct about this, and Chase at a national level is pretty evil, he did sell me on the point that the local people in the (formerly WaMu) branches do continue to have jobs because I and others bank there. And they are nice. This BOA manager should just have smiled and apologized and handed them cash or a cashier’s check and waived any account closure fees and diffused the immediate source of their anger – whether they had signs or were making any points or not. That would’ve been the best way to make sure OTHER customers stay with them.

    Pretty soon, they keep doing, this, the trickle of people leaving big banks is going to swell. I am already reevaluating whether it is time to leave Chase in favor of the regional bank, despite the nice people Chase employs locally.

  51. 51
    Ash Can says:

    @JGabriel: And how. And his district ain’t exactly the Gold Coast. I hope this ad finds its way to every household there.

  52. 52
    Gus diZerega says:

    @gene108:

    The way this system works is to insulate the bad guys and gals from the people they injure. They sit in their top floor offices and mansions and hire underlings who need a job and, for the lowest ranks, those folks are usually decent people. Like the police officers in the video appear to be.

    Nevertheless, the women did nothing to hurt those underlings. And their bosses for whom they work have done much to hurt us and the country at large. This world works on publicity, which is why sociopaths seek to use it against us and have for years. Now OWS is taking control of publicity.

    Your post demonstrates either enormous naivete or a very vicious streak in your post. I hope it is the former.

  53. 53
    Lysana says:

    @gene108: You don’t get it. You really don’t. There wouldn’t BE trouble if said workers behaved like customer service providers and closed the accounts without complaining. It’s obvious they’re following orders to be complete jerks when asked to handle a simple transaction. And no, I don’t respect people who follow unethical orders, even though I understand what the job market is like. They feel they have to do it. I can still think they’re jerks while understanding their motives to be foot soldiers in this case. Though my real anger’s aimed at the management sending down the orders.

    Though if I were those women, I’d go to a different BofA branch this week and do it. Handle it quietly, get their money, then drop the gotcha of being Occupy protestors.

    Personally, I am now without a bank account thanks to overdraft charges (Chase) and have to use a BofA debit card because that’s who’s handling the UI payments. I’m not sure if state disability does the same thing yet and hope they don’t barring finding out I’m completely screwed out of opening any bank account anywhere. (ETA: I’m applying for disability for real reasons aside from how I’m on my last tier.)

  54. 54
    jibeaux says:

    I’m paying my credit cards off entirely, such that I should have dug myself outta the whole I’ve gotten into by next spring. I’m up to $750 a month sometimes. It feels really good.

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    @cat:

    The manager had a choice, yet choose to side with the 1%.

    Managers are just doing their jobs, like the tellers. There’s no reason to try and cause a scene, if you just wanted to close your account.

    These ladies wanted to start something. They figured the sign may prove to be a point of provocation, which is why you have a third person video the whole thing. Smells like something Brietbar-O’Keefe would pull.

    The fact the video work wasn’t a hidden camera is better than Brietbart or O’Keefe by a considerable measure, but its the same sort of thing. Do or say something you know has a strong chance to generate a negative reaction, either in a potential audience or by the person you are talking with at the moment and catch it on video.

    P.S. If this sort of sh$t is losing my support for the Occupy movement and I’m a hell of a lot more liberal than most folks out there, I can only imagine how this sh$t is going to go down with the general public. There’s a lot in the Occupy movement that should cut across ideologies and push for some types of change in how politicians tackle problems, but attempts to harass bank branch workers is counterproductive. Upper management, from what I’ve seen about how big banks behave, would love to close their branches and have all transactions and questions handled on-line or via 1-800-customer support centers, because that is more cost effective than leasing/owning real estate.

  56. 56
    Dr. Squid says:

    As opposed to the anti abortion protesters who sneak in ti get an abortion then sneak back onto the picket line after they’re done. This is perfectly acceptable in Conservative world, while going in openly to close a crappy checking account isn’t.

  57. 57
    burnspbesq says:

    @mistermix:

    my take is that B-J needs better quality trolls.

    My take is that you need to up your game before you start taking gratuitous potshots at others.

  58. 58
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    If you can’t be a customer and a protester, you can’t be a CITIZEN and a customer.

  59. 59
    superking says:

    Call me crazy, but I’m more of the mindset that the FDIC has my money, not BOA. BOA can’t do much to hurt me. If they want to charge me $5 a month on my debit card, I’ll stop using it. And if BOA goes under, the FDIC has my back. There is absolutely no reason to be a dick to some poor schlub working the counter at a Bank of America branch office. Everything they do wrong happens in Charlotte, NC, and elsewhere.

  60. 60
    gene108 says:

    @Gus diZerega:

    And their bosses

    I posted this already, but it is worth repeating. For a bank executive, branches are a drain on their resources. The most efficient way to operate a bank would be cut down on branches. Move all transactions to ATM’s, on-line and 1-800-customer support.

    Retail bank branching may start going the way of other retail stores, because doing shit on-line is cheaper.

    It’s just older folks (35+ maybe) are used to doing things face-to-face. Banks are already trending towards this, in my experience, by limiting the services people working at a branch can provide. For things like refinancing a loan, they often steer you to an 800-number, which acts as a centralized point to process these transactions for the bank.

    @Lysana:

    You don’t get it. You really don’t. There wouldn’t BE trouble if said workers behaved like customer service providers and closed the accounts without complaining.

    No I don’t.

    I don’t side with rude customers over customer service people.

    I’ve been on the other end too many times in my life that I realize you are dealing with people – bank tellers, managers, waiters, etc. – who have limits on what they can do and what they are allowed to tolerate.

    These ladies knew they had a chance to start some shit, by going in with the sign. The could’ve left it at the door. They could’ve left it with the friend, who was making the video and not have her come in with them.

    Just because you are the customer, doesn’t mean you are always right.

  61. 61
    Chyron HR says:

    @gene108:

    You forgot to hold up your little sign saying “I am the 53%”.

  62. 62
  63. 63
    Carol from CO says:

    If I’d been the protester/customer, I would have found the nearest attorney to go with me back to the bank instead of a policeman. We know by now that the police are not helpful when it comes to protesting.

  64. 64
    Martin says:

    @gene108:

    I posted this already, but it is worth repeating. For a bank executive, branches are a drain on their resources. The most efficient way to operate a bank would be cut down on branches. Move all transactions to ATM’s, on-line and 1-800-customer support.

    Yeah, that’s the thinking of 99% of the companies out there. That meatspace is too fucking expensive, let’s push it all online and keep the profits.

    Sometimes, though, someone goes the other way, goes balls-to-the-wall on meatspace customer service for the 47% who give a shit and kicks everyones ass. BofA could have been that outlier, but no, they have a recipe and they’re sticking to it.

  65. 65
    soonergrunt says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I think mistermix was calling Keith G an asshole.
    I could be wrong, though. It happened once.

  66. 66
    mellowjohn says:

    but if you’re closing your account in protest of the bank and it’s policies, you’re protesting every time you try to close your account. therefore, we won’t let you close it.
    “that’s some catch, that catch-22.”

  67. 67
    Bondo says:

    This is ridiculous, I’m not certain how you can deny someone service. Its their money, and they want it back.

  68. 68
    Shade Tail says:

    @gene108:

    There’s no reason to try and cause a scene, if you just wanted to close your account.

    Why not? Seriously, it appears that the point of actually protesting has sailed over your head by a good mile. BoA is one of the bigger bad guys here, *and people are trying to call attention to that fact*. And if that BoA branch had simply done their jobs and not been dickish about it, there would have been nothing for the protestors to call attention to. It is hardly the protesters’ fault that, while they were trying to show the bank’s dishonest practices, the bank gave them what they wanted on a silver platter.

    Comparing this to Breitbart/O’Keefe is absurd. There was no special “gotcha” and no dishonest editing of the video. The bank quite clearly did not do its job and dishonestly (maybe *illegally*) committed an actual fraud here, refusing to give their customers access to said customers’ money. This was nothing like O’Keefe’s “sting” on ACORN, or his attempt to wiretap that Louisiana Representative’s office.

  69. 69
    Martin says:

    @Shade Tail: Not to mention that BofA was doing all of this shit courtesy of the money that account holders had trusted them with. Account holders need to learn that they aren’t some disinterested party – if the bank is doing stupid shit, they’re doing it WITH YOUR MONEY. Of course account holders that are protesting the stupid shit are free to make a scene, they became involved by trusting BofA to not be dicks thanks to the reserves that they provided and BofA invited that response by misplacing that trust.

  70. 70
    piratedan says:

    wow, its funny that they should make those distinctions, next thing you’ll know, you can’t be a woman and be a customer. Who knows where it will end, perhaps with the duality of being a financial institution and a political power broker.

  71. 71
    Keith G says:

    @mistermix:

    I think you misinterpreted the video. The BoA manager was acting like an asshole, which I’m sure you can appreciate.

    Exactly. And, I am not the only one who can appreciate that, which was my point.

  72. 72
    gene108 says:

    @Shade Tail:

    Seriously, it appears that the point of actually protesting has sailed over your head by a good mile.

    What exactly are you protesting? People who work at branch banks ARE NOT THE FOLKS, who bundled MBS, CDO’s, lobbied to have financial institutions get 30:1 leverage ratios, which is the BIGGEST reason for the meltdown – too much debt to payback, when assets started under preforming – and whatever else you are angry at.

    BoA is one of the bigger bad guys here, and people are trying to call attention to that fact.

    Who is the bad guy? Branch workers?

    Protesting branch bank workers is misdirected. You are making life hard for people, who are either paid squat on base salary and have to push product to make commissions, are wage slaves, or are hourly workers pushing to get 40 hours a week and thus access to benefits.

    These aren’t the folks getting billions in bonuses. These are the folks, who are lucky to get a 1%-3% raise every year.

    Comparing this to Breitbart/O’Keefe is absurd. There was no special “gotcha” and no dishonest editing of the video.

    Never said there was.

    But these ladies were being provocateurs. Why the hell else do you have a friend make a video of your visit to the bank?

    I’ve gone to my local bank. I’ve closed accounts before. It’s a boring damn trip. Nothing worthy of recording it for posterity.

    Protesting branch banks is misdirected. Branch workers didn’t cause the mess.

    It’s like blaming factory workers for the Pinto’s design flaws or more recently, Toyota’s design flaws. You are going after the wrong people.

  73. 73
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @gene108:

    Managers are just doing their jobs, like the tellers. There’s no reason to try and cause a scene, if you just wanted to close your account.

    Managers are paid quite good money to represent the bank and dealing with upset customers is part of their job. They are supposed to be professional enough not make the situations worse.

  74. 74
    Loneoak says:

    Santa Cruz represent! Thems my peeps!

  75. 75
    Keith G says:

    @ABL:

    don’t workshop your insults on me.

    I wasn’t typing an insult, just an observation. Sorry if I struck a nerve. I will be more thoughtful next time.

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    These pathetic motherfuckers really do want to take tumbrel rides, don’t they?

    On edit: gene108 looks like he’s hankering to join them on the rides!

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Because ABL is exactly like BofA?

    That really was a remarkably lame effort from him. “ABL takes my money and doesn’t give it back, just like BofA!”

  78. 78
    PeakVT says:

    @West of the Cascades: It’s true that local branches of national banks hire locally, but the front-line jobs won’t go away if people switch out of national banks. They’ll just move with the money.

    It’s really only the 10 or so biggest banks that are the problem. Banks farther down probably have engaged in shitty practices, but they don’t have big trading desks and aren’t systemically dangerous.

  79. 79
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Keith G: Uh huh, right.

  80. 80
    scav says:

    Wonder how many bank managers went out of their way to refuse service to all people wearing tricorns? And many at those protests were proudly and openly carrying guns (not just whimpy signs) so the former were at least capable of breaking out into slightly more dangerous forms of dangerous, dangerous activities that all protesters are suddenly judged intrinsically capable of with no warning. But no, “We’ll only let you be a customer if you actively grovel to us.” is the new watchword.

    Oh, and if branches were such a freaking drain on resources, why were the banks suddenly opening so very many during the housing bubble — after getting rid of them following the ATM wave)? Somehow I think something more complicated was going on (banks believing in their own bubble, for a starter).

  81. 81
    The Spy Who Loved Me says:

    Video from the Citibank protest:
    http://www.mediaite.com/online.....-to-leave/

    Pretty easy to set your sign down outside, walk into the bank to close your account, then walk back outside and pick your sign up again. But what fun would that be?

  82. 82
    cathyx says:

    @gene108: I was going to let you two hash this argument out amongst yourselves, but I can’t keep quiet. If we all followed your philosophy and didn’t protest at local places because the local workers have nothing to do with our angst, then we shouldn’t be protesting in all the different cities around the globe either. And maybe not even on Wall Street, because there are many employees who have nothing to do with what the fat cats are doing to us.
    Each bank branch represents the institutions which we all have a problem with. I shouldn’t have to go to the national headquarters to complain about what they are doing.

  83. 83
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    @gene108:

    These ladies wanted to start something.

    This is the entire point of protesting. Why do you think nonviolent protests work at all? Not because people wake up and see protesters, but because nonviolent protest frequently “baits” institutions into bad behavior, which can then be used to stress the true fact frequently forgotten that these institutions don’t have the same priorities as you and me and are not in fact “on our side”.

    Obviously, there’s better and worse “baiting”. Baiting the police by throwing molotov cocktails or fighting them is obviously counterproductive; but baiting the police by occupying a park or big corporations by picketing their stores is entirely within acceptable behavior IMHO.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    People who work at branch banks ARE NOT THE FOLKS, who bundled MBS, CDO’s, lobbied to have financial institutions get 30:1 leverage ratios, which is the BIGGEST reason for the meltdown – too much debt to payback, when assets started under preforming – and whatever else you are angry at.

    The people at the branch aren’t the ones who did the bundling, but in many cases they are the ones who talked people into taking out loans with balloon payments that the bank workers knew full well the customer wouldn’t be able to pay. They’re the ones who faked the paperwork and processed “liar loans” so they could hit their quotas.

    The local branches are by no means innocent in the financial collapse. Without their hard work, there wouldn’t have been thousands of bad loans to bundle into MBS’s in the first place.

  85. 85
    John O says:

    Bank of America has always been the biggest dick amongst the big ones.

    They’re the King of Dicks.

  86. 86
  87. 87
    maya says:

    Get off my marble foýer!

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    Yes, that’s what I thought when reading your comment. Because apparently to you, ABL banning commenters from a private blog is exactly like a bank refusing to give their customers’ money back when they try to close their accounts.

  89. 89
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nope not at all.

    Because apparently to you…

    That interpretation is errant.

  90. 90
    AuldBlackJack says:

    According to the bank manager, “If they came in with the signs and they were part of the protest earlier, then they are protesters and cannot be customers at the same time.”

    Well, you have to kinda’ see it from their perspective …these bank managers don’t think it’s possible to be a bank employee and a human being at the same time also, too.

  91. 91
    Gus diZerega says:

    @gene108:

    Yes, so? I make a point of using the tellers whenever possible to help preserve their jobs. When the market is interpreted only in terms of price efficiency for consumers a great many distortions, moral and otherwise, enter into the analysis.

    The parasitical social tapeworms that run the banks would prefer to have no employees and simply use cheap robots to keep everyone in line. That does not make them right or worth doing anything towards but unremitting opposition until they join the human race or are brought under control. (I think that latter will be more possible for many of them.)

  92. 92
    gaz says:

    If I were a BofA customer (yeah right) and a teller said this to me, I’d get a manager. If the manager said this to me, I’d get a lawyer.

    This is a fucking lawsuit, and probably grounds for criminal prosecution (fraud?, whats the FDIC’s position on this kind of bullshit? just wondering)

  93. 93
    gaz says:

    @West of the Cascades: http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....cist-Jerks

    And BofA are scum sucking bastards.

    If you don’t like BECU (as I do not) and don’t have any *solid* CredUnions in your area, I’d strongly recommend looking into USBank – don’t take this from me – ask your friends – but the service is great, they didn’t really get caught up directly in the subprime scandal, and they are not a bunch of racist assholes (yeah, I know that’s setting the bar low, but hey, look at what choices we have to work with!)

  94. 94
    Mary says:

    @gene108:

    These ladies wanted to start something. They figured the sign may prove to be a point of provocation, which is why you have a third person video the whole thing.

    You know what would have been a really effective way to shut down the ladies who “wanted to start something”? Treating them like customers and allowing them to complete their transaction without incident.

  95. 95
    gaz says:

    @Mary: no shit, right?

    All they had to do was complete the transaction with a smile. Infinitely more PR friendly and effective.

  96. 96
    Belagia says:

    As a resident of Santa Cruz, I have to laugh at the bank manager. This is SANTA CRUZ! People protest regularly about all kinds of things. In all the years I have lived here, I’ve never heard of the policy that says one can’t be a protester and a bank customer at the same time. Seems like it’s a rather targeted and selective “policy”…and likely illegal.

    Those women need to keep on walking down River Street and open new accounts at Bay Federal Credit Union. We closed our account with Wells Fargo 12 years ago, opened accounts with Bay Fed and have never looked back.

    Credit unions also employee local people who are nice.

  97. 97
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JGabriel: To be fair to Duffy, it is very hard to gt good sushi in central Wisconsin. Good fish, sure, but not sushi. It’s a hard life.

  98. 98
    ABL says:

    @Keith G: oh honey, don’t kid yourself. don’t turn your snark failure into an indictment about my sensitivity. that dog won’t hunt.

  99. 99
    ABL says:

    @Mnemosyne: it was an attempt at snark that was ill-thought out on many levels.

    but it’s cute to watch him try. i’ll give him an E for Effort.

  100. 100
    Baron Elmo says:

    Has no one at Bank of America ever seen Mary Poppins?

  101. 101
    Keith G says:

    @ABL: Failure? That’s in the eye of the beholder.

    ill-thought out on many levels.

    Not at all, but quite possible no longer relevant as you appear to now meet differing views with a lighter heart.

    Months ago, you threatened to toss me out for typing an innocuous comment (not unlike that bank in question). Uncool.

    Today I have been a…..pest. And your responses have made me smile.

  102. 102
    trollhattan says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    (Which, given that payments will skyrocket as a result, could take years longer.)

    You’re thinking too small. At 30% APR, a typical balance will GROW. That’s payday (b)loan territory.

    I love that there are usury laws on the books from which all the lenders are exempt.

  103. 103
    dms says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: Are you kidding me? I’ve got three of them in my family, and they’re all major assholes.

  104. 104
    hilzoy says:

    What I love about this is the manager saying: You can’t be a protester and a customer — when all they wanted to do was to stop being BofA customers!

    In all seriousness, I think this amounts to keeping people’s money against their will. I would definitely go back with an attorney if I were them. (Can’t do it myself, since, um, I moved to a credit union in early 2009.)

  105. 105
    John O says:

    @hilzoy:

    Just a note to tell you how much I liked your blog-work. Very thought provoking and satisfying.

    I hope you are well.

  106. 106
    ABL says:

    @Keith G:

    Months ago, you threatened to toss me out for typing an innocuous comment (not unlike that bank in question). Uncool.

    ::snort:: Now not only are you attempting to salvage your failed analogy, but you are also engaging in a bit of butthurt revisionist history. How precious! I remember our little tussle and it is not as you described it; but carry on, my wayward pest! Facts do not matter to you lot, I understand.

    Today I have been a…..pest. And your responses have made me smile

    A pest’s life is dull indeed, so I am glad to have been able to provide you a ray of sunshine — however fleeting it was.

  107. 107
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @hilzoy: Yup. This. “We don’t WANT to be a customer!” That was my initial thought.

  108. 108
    Keith G says:

    @ABL:

    I remember our little tussle and it is not as you described

    Then please show the world how wrong I am. If my memory has failed and I was personally insulting to you, display it. I have had issues with your typing style and the way you tended, on occasion, to personally attack those with differing opinions. Still, if I was unjust or uncivil with you, I will apologize.

    That said, isn’t “butthurt” a bit hackneyed by this point. You can do better I am sure.

  109. 109
    efgoldman says:

    All of you, especially Gene, who are couching your disapproval of provocative protesting by way of proitecting the local workers (tellers and managers):
    mrs efgoldman worked for several years as a teller, head teller, desk rep, assistant manager and back-office problem solver for a regional bank that has long-since been absorbed into the Greater BofA. She left well before the series of mergers started. She viewed her job, her associates’ jobs, and her manager’s job, as giving the best service she could, even when it meant dealing with stupid, provocative, ignorant or just confused customers. And they did a damned fine job.
    I know damned well, that kind of attitude has been beat out of the system at every level.
    Not to mention: Those jobs you want to protect? Well BofA announced a couple weeks ago that about 30,000 (that’s THIRTY-FUCKING-THOUSAND!) of them are going out the door.
    http://www.charlotteobserver.c.....could.html

  110. 110
    gaz says:

    @Keith G: stfu troll.

    we don’t care, and this thread isn’t about you.

    here’s to hoping ABL ignores your sorry punk ass and stops wasting further thread space to laying out your previous fail parades.

    You are a fucking dumbass. And the eye-of-the-beholder shit won’t fly, because everybody here (I suspect even you) thinks you are a witless, soulless, factless little piece of shit scumbag troll. Get it yet, or are you really just too stupid to recognize when you are not wanted?! Go the fuck away already, you stupid pathetic fuckwit.

    where’s doug and his mighty banhammer when we need him?

  111. 111
    Keith G says:

    @gaz: So you had a bad day?

  112. 112
    gaz says:

    @Keith G: Other than having to stop and wipe you off of my shoe, my day has gone swimmingly.

    Now fuck off.

    /ignored.

  113. 113
    Ruckus says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    B of A has stuck their collective dicks in a lawnmower.
    That’s a nice sentiment.
    I’d almost pay money to see that in real time.

  114. 114
    gaz says:

    @efgoldman: The fact that any thinking individual (who does not hate themselves fiercely) would voluntarily bank with these people simply confounds me – and has for at least the past decade.

    This BS from BofA is not only predictable – it’s par for the course for them. In fact, if they weren’t pulling shit like this, I’d have accused them of going soft.

    Some people bank w/ BofA
    and some people vote for Republicans

    I’ve never been able to figure out either of the above. Proof positive that Libertarian ideology is fundamentally wrong, afiac – because it depends on people acting in rational self interest. The very existence of BofA disproves the assumption that people can be counted on to behave that way.

    *shakes head*

  115. 115
    Keith G says:

    @gaz: Well, you sure taught me a lesson.

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    @West of the Cascades:
    Your local regional bank has local employees. And the managers and board might possibly be local as well. At the national banks only the tellers/maybe branch managers are local people.
    I feel for the people who just have a job and work for the big national banks. But I consider it’s like working for the mob. You may be the maid or whatever and don’t do anything illegal but your work supports the mob. And the mob supports you. It may be all the work one can find (especially in this economy), it’s still evil work.

  117. 117
    Corner Stone says:

    @Keith G: Was this episode edifying in any way?

  118. 118
    Carl Nyberg says:

    Would it help if I help spread the word to B of A customers that the bank refuses to serve people who protest B of A’s conduct and policies?

    I’d be willing to hand out leaflets saying this at a B of A branch.

  119. 119
    Carl Nyberg says:

    Keith G, if you don’t like how you are treated, is there something stopping you from leaving? Why would you continue to participate in this community if you feel you are being mistreated?

  120. 120
    Keith G says:

    @Corner Stone: I am on call tonight (now working at a care center for AIDS patients) so I can’t drink or roam around town, but I can challenge the misapprehensions caused by an unwarranted certainty.

    Short answer: It passes time.

  121. 121
    Keith G says:

    @Carl Nyberg: Come on Carl. Recognize hyperbole

  122. 122
    gene108 says:

    @YoohooCthulhu:

    This is the entire point of protesting. Why do you think nonviolent protests work at all?

    They grind the system down, when the system isn’t just.

    BoA wasn’t preventing them from closing their accounts. The manager was just pissed off because these guys had already been protesting and marching at BoA. Having people march, chant, etc. in front of your place of business is plenty to get noticed.

    I think the manager just got fed up with the extra headache of the protestors.

    From the video, she seems pissed off from the get go.

    @efgoldman:

    Those jobs you want to protect? Well BofA announced a couple weeks ago that about 30,000 (that’s THIRTY-FUCKING-THOUSAND!) of them are going out the door.

    And bunch of them will be MBA’s, who trade financial instruments and perform other similar acts of “evil”.

    Anyway, as I stated above, the manager seemed pissed from minute she saw someone walk in with a sign. I don’t know why.

    I’m guessing having protests outside your building for the better part of the day and whatever added headaches it caused just made her grumpy.

    I don’t think banks train people to deal with protestors, like we are seeing now, as opposed to the usual disgruntled customer, who has some service or question that needs to be addressed.

    All of you, especially Gene, who are couching your disapproval of provocative protesting by way of proitecting the local workers

    I’m not talking about protecting local workers jobs. I’m talking about not being a dick.

    These ladies just spent the day marching around protesting till their hearts content.

    Did they think this would make bank employees anything but more tense?

    @Mary:

    Treating them like customers and allowing them to complete their transaction without incident.

    I don’t know the gory details of the Santa Cruz Occupy movement, but from what I’ve read on-line, there was a day of protesting and marching up and down the downtown, in front of the branches of big banks.

    It makes sense the manager had orders to not allow protestors into the bank, if a couple of hundred people are marching up and down, in front of your bank, protesting.

    The whole protesting inside branches strikes me as counterproductive to the overall Occupy movement.

    The Occupy movements have generally good ideas, like drawing attention to the income inequality in this country and the problems people are have had over the last 30 to 40 years in raising their standard of living.

    By having a middle or upper middle class person, who maybe one of the 30,000 people, BofA lays off as the villainous face of big, heartless, soulless, greedy banking isn’t going to get people to go along with the message you are trying to send.

    As efgoldman pointed out, these are people who deal with tough problems and customers and usually find ways to resolve these problems to the customers satisfaction; they are not folks who the general population will find as unsympathetic paragons of greed.

    Someone mentioned the point of nonviolent protest earlier. One thing nonviolent protests/civil disobedience has to do is draw in broader public support from people, who are not inclined to join your movement, but are generally sympathetic to your message in whole or in part.

    For example, my maternal grandfather was a school teacher. During the early days of India’s independence movement, he was just starting out in his career. He’d go to a few speeches by Gandhians, but since he had a family to look after, he didn’t have the desire to get involved.

    My paternal grandfather was a police inspector. If Gandhi painted the Indian police inspectors, railways managers, people in the military and other Indians operating within the British Raj as the face of what he was opposing, he would not have garnered the support he did across the country.

    If the Occupy movement wants to get their message to resonate with the broader public, the face of what you are protesting needs to be something other than a bank manager.

    If you want to protest outside a bank branch for symbolic reasons, that’s fine. There’s just no one inside the bank, who needs to be made to react to the protest. They do not make a good foil for broadening the reach of your message. Branch employees are not inherently unsympathetic figures to large parts of the public.

  123. 123
    Keith G says:

    @gene108: Interesting perspective.

    Edit:
    @Carl Nyberg: This is a reason to stick around.

  124. 124
    Rafer Janders says:

    @gene108:

    Hey, why was Rosa Parks hassling that poor bus driver? He didn’t come up with the Negroes to the back of the bus policy, he was just doing his job. Why boycott the buses and hurt the jobs of all those bus drivers? Seems to me like Rosa Parks was just trying to start something….

  125. 125
    Paul in KY says:

    @gene108: Would it be better if the protesters prefaced their protest by saying ‘Nothing against you personally, Mr. branch manager, this is directed at the powers-that-be who run Bank of America’?

  126. 126
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Before the fish from Wisconsin is cooked, it is sushi! Problem solved.

  127. 127
    Steve says:

    Dante: My friend is trying to convince me that any contractors working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when the space station was destroyed by the rebels.
    Blue-Collar Man: Well, I’m a contractor myself. I’m a roofer… (digs into pocket and produces business card) Dunn and Reddy Home Improvements. And speaking as a roofer, I can say that a roofer’s personal politics come heavily into play when choosing jobs.
    Randal: Like when?
    Blue-Collar Man: Three months ago I was offered a job up in the hills. A beautiful house with tons of property. It was a simple reshingling job, but I was told that if it was finished within a day, my price would be doubled. Then I realized whose house it was.
    Dante: Whose house was it?
    Blue-Collar Man: Dominick Bambino’s.
    Randal: “Babyface” Bambino? The gangster?
    Blue-Collar Man: The same. The money was right, but the risk was too big. I knew who he was, and based on that, I passed the job on to a friend of mine.
    Dante: Based on personal politics.
    Blue-Collar Man: Right. And that week, the Foresci family put a hit on Babyface’s house. My friend was shot and killed. He wasn’t even finished shingling.
    Randal: No way!
    Blue-Collar Man: (paying for coffee) I’m alive because I knew there were risks involved taking on that particular client. My friend wasn’t so lucky. (pauses to reflect) You know, any contractor willing to work on that Death Star knew the risks. If they were killed, it was their own fault. A roofer listens to this… (taps his heart) not his wallet.

  128. 128
    Wilson Heath says:

    No one has yet remarked on the felicitous placement of the words “bananas” and “Foster” on the first line of the post? Unappreciative louts.

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