Tag Archives: Bank of America

Human ATMs and a Rental Car Heads Up

Read the screen! The New York Times just reported on a lawsuit involving Dollar Rent A Car over allegedly charging the huge collision coverage so-called protection on their car rentals.
Dollar, Thrifty, and lots of others try to sell you, and when you decline the coverage (as you should), they may still leave it on the contract.

The Dollar lawsuit alleges that customers were clicking through the five or six different little computer screens and clicking ok. But what they didn’t see is that they coverage was shown as being accepted. You need to read each of those little screens to see it shows that you declined coverage. If not – you’ve signed for it, but won’t see it until you return the vehicle and get an actual printed statement. At that point, it’s too late and your credit card company won’t help you with a dispute since you’ve signed the agreement!

A great idea: 300 TD bank locations now have a coin counter machine right in the branch. It’s free if you’re a TD customer. I love the idea and the customer service. I just don’t love the idea that you have to be a TD customer to use them.

Ever wanted to talk to a human at an ATM machine if you’re stuck or have a question? Bank of America CAN have a good idea: Yes, it’s true: The bank with THE worst customer satisfaction rating on the planet has come out with a great idea.

They’ve just rolled out a human being ATM being tested in New England. It’s a normal ATM, but artificial intelligence and a skype-like connection lets you talk to a real human being from 7 am until 10 pm!
Yes, right at the ATM you can get questions answered and do transactions that you ordinarily can’t do with an ATM such as split deposits, foreign currency transactions, etc. I love the idea and hope, like everything else, it’ll come to Canada with one of the big banks.

Bank of America Blinked

Bank of America blinked: Two weeks ago, one of the largest banks in the world announced they would start charging a $5 fee for debit cards. We talked about it, because I believe what happens in the US comes to Canada.

But Bank of America actually blinked. When the heat and negative feedback got so bad, Cit, Wells Fargo and a number of other banks who were also testing a debit card fee stopped it. Yesterday, Bank of America decided to withdraw that idea as well.

Ah, the power of the consumer. We don’t get mad very often, but when we do, it has powerful consequences. It’s too bad we don’t get mad more, instead of just tolerating higher and higher fees for less and less service. Apparently the impetus for their reversal is the Wall Street protest movement that’s now spread to so many cities, including some here in Canada. Their spotlight is partly on large corporations, and in this case, we all benefit.

When will you have an ah ha! or ENOUGH! moment with your personal finances in one way or another? At what point is the pain level of everybody getting rich from your pay cheque be high enough where you’ll do whatever it takes to turn it around and get out of your personal financial nightmare? What’ll it take? Because I hope it comes soon – it’ll be so worth it!

Three Stories With More Questions than Answers…

Today, I’ve got three stories that make me ask more questions than I have answers:

Electronically Traded Funds, called ETFs, are modern day mutual funds that you can purchase for a tiny commission and fee. Right now, there is more money invested in Gold ETFs than there is in the entire S&P 500. And that consists of the 500 largest companies. Just think about that. The fever is at an all-time high when there is more invested in something shiny and speculative than there is in the assets of the largest companies in the world. Although invested isn’t the word I’d use. I’d call it gambling. True or false? It may go up for another long stretch, but mark my words, when it corrects, it’ll drop by half in a hurry.

The State of California just approved an insurance company test which charges your insurance premiums based on the miles you drive. What do you think? Is that something that’ll benefit people or hurt them? I guess if you’re a Senior, it could be a good deal, but if you drive a fair bit….not so much….

Bank of America has just announced they’ll now charge $5 a month for their clients to use a debit card.

With the recently implemented financial reforms, banks have had their massive debit card fees capped. The Federal Reserve, and this would be the same in Canada, says it costs the banks 4 cents to process a debit card transactions. But until recently, their fees were averaging 44 cents. That’s a 1,000% return – a pretty good profit! It’s now 25 cents, and that helps merchants, and eventually you and me in lower prices, but cost the banks a ton of money.

Would you pay a fee just to have and use your debit card? I bet 99% of people will when it does come to Canada. Besides, if you go back to a credit card, the banks make even more money. So heads you lose, tails they win. Sick – but true.

A Few Scary Stories from the U.S.

After a week in Kansas, I wanted to share a couple of U.S. stories from the world of finance and credit. They’re certainly insights that make you think or just shake your head:

You knew this day had to come: Atlantic City is the #2 gambling destination after Las Vegas in the US. Within ten hours of Atlantic City, there are more than 100 million people to draw from, and that’s a pretty huge market. While it’s possible to get cash advances from credit and debit cards in every casino on the planet, Atlantic City has gone one big step further. Gaming laws have now been amended to actually allow people to use their credit cards right at the blackjack and craps tables for a cash advance! Yes, you heard that correctly. Just sit down at the blackjack table and pull out your credit card. So far, only the Trump Taj Mahal has implemented it. But you know it’s only a matter of time before every casino in Atlantic City, and then Vegas, will roll this out, just to keep up.

JP Morgan Chase, one of the big six credit card issuers who control two-thirds of all credit cards, just announced doing away with a bunch of affinity cards. Those are cards for a specific retailer, where the merchant receives a kick-back. Gone are the Avon card and Starbucks. And if you’re a basketball fan, they also couldn’t get enough interest in the credit cards for the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Gee, you think the world can do without a few more credit cards??

On television, there’s more and more happy talk about the U.S. economy. While that may be true, in some areas, the foundation of people feeling more secure about their finances is always the value and equity in their homes. And that isn’t getting much better in many of the so-called “bubble states, where there are still over 3 million foreclosures expected this year alone.
But the no-service Bank of America is now seeing the light, and are prepared to do principal reductions of up to 30% on people under water. That is, they’re actually now prepared to help, after writing off billions of dollars in foreclosures. Principal reductions means they will actually cut the balance that people owe on a home that may be worth half of their mortgage. It’ll apply only to sub prime mortgages with insane interest rates, but it’s a start to actually help people and give them concrete hope. They finally figured out that they didn’t need to lose tens of billions of dollars kicking families out of their homes, and then take a massive bath on trying to sell literally millions of empty houses. This is going to be less than half as expensive for the bank in the long run. Too little too late for a ton of families but better late than never…