Saturday, September 13, 2008

An E-Mail to Senator Stan Rosenberg and a reply, the same day, encouraging patronage of community savings banks.

Okay, you might think it's weird that I don't have a bank account, but as I educate myself anew about the systems within our society that are often taken for granted, I am conducting an experiment with getting myself as far off "the grid" as possible. More on that in the months ahead. Below is an exchange I had with Senator Stan Rosenberg (pictured below) about an issue I have with Bank Of America. Stan is a Senator who prioritizes accesability to his constituents. Try getting a response this quickly, or at all, from U.S. Representative John Olver. I've had horrendous experiences with BOA through little to no fault of my own and I think Stan is spot on in his comments.

August 4th 2008


I choose, as a citizen, not to participate in the banking industry. As I've hit my mid-40s and really analyzed the pros and cons of leaving a bank to tend to my money, it's become clear that it's more of a disadvantage for me to keep my savings in a bank. The systems in place within our society make it nearly impossible to live unless you have a bank account or a credit card, and I feel unfairly railroaded into participating by forces that stand to benefit from my earnings without providing anything in return. In fact, the ever more ruthless fees would chip away at my money rather than add interest if I was of more modest means.
My payroll check is drawn on the Bank of America. A new policy (as of 9/16) now dictates that I will be charged $6.00 for cashing each of these checks at a Bank of America branch if I do not have an account there. Is a bank not required by law to honor a check issued from its own accounts assuming ID is in order? Banks have gotten into dubious territory in the last 10 years or so since identifying fees and penalties as a profit center, feeding on the customers who can least afford it. This is the broader issue. My gripe is that a bank won't cash it's own checks without exacting a fee from me or coercing me to open an account. What's the law? Thanks Stan. I've been a resident on and off since '76. Amherst High School. UMass. You've always been a rare example of the good in government.

Jim Neill

Stan Rosenberg responds:

August 4th, 2008

Dear Jim

Thanks for your email and kind words.

I will have to check with the state's banking commissioner about this. I once chaired the Senate banking committee here and I'm pretty sure that they are a federally chartered bank and not a state chartered bank so they are only regulated by the federal government and therefore you would have to petition one of our congressional representatives to see if there is anything that can be done about this.

Because of their practices, I have all but drained my Bank of America account and now bank locally. I only keep it open because of travel and ATM. I do 95% of my banking with local banks. The community savings banks are so much better and fairer. I hope if you haven't yet done so that you will look into some of them. You might find that you will get what you need without all of the of the nonsense of the huge banks that could care less whether or not you are well served as long as they get to use your money!

I will try to get back to you soon.

Stan Rosenberg


Joey B said...

I've always been rather impressed with Senator Rosenberg. I've never dealt with him in any professional capacity, but in the social situations I've run into him, he seems like a genuine guy that has the public interest in mind. I never got that sense of skeeviness that many politicians exude.

One thing you might want to try is posting this to the They are constantly addressing issues like this and Bank of America is one of their more common subjects. I'd be curious to know the answer as well.


Anonymous said...

Dude--Put your money INTO the Bank of America and encourage all your blog readers to do the same. I own shares in BofA, and I assure you, we could use your assets. Please help us. XXOO

Tommy said...

My Valley Advocate checks are on BOA and I'm enraged by their new six dollar fee. Not that my rage will do any good.

Rachel said...

Wow, I'm really impressed that you can get by without a bank account. In the UK you are encouraged to have all bills come out of your account via direct debit. It's convenient, but I do feel like I've lost a bit of control.

And by the way, my mother is furious with B of A. They really messed her around. I have still have my Wells Fargo acct in Minnesota, and I don't have any complaints with them, yet...