Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grassroots Activism Can Work

"Score one for a customer rebellion!"

by Jess Kutch · October 30, 2011

In less than one month, Bank of America went from announcing a new $5 monthly debit card fee, to reeling under huge pressure from the media, Congress, and members. Now, Chase and Wells Fargo -two of Bank of America's biggest consumer banking competitors - have promised not to levy debit card fees on customers, and Bank of America is suggesting they will 'soften' their fee.

It all started with one member, Molly Katchpole, who said enough was enough and started a campaign against Bank of America's $5 fee.

Friday night, ABC World News reported on the banking industry’s reaction to Molly’s campaign. Watch the video to learn how Molly and 300,000 petition signers made big banks listen up!

Here's how it all happened:

September 29: Bank of America announces a new $5 monthly debit card fee.

September 30: Molly creates her petition on; 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 petition reaches 300,000 signatures, and customers continue to demand that Bank of America cancel the $5 fee for all of its customers.

UPDATE (1/11/2011)

November 1: VICTORY! Bank of America formally announces that it will not move forward with implementing the debit card fee, marking a victory for Molly and over 306,000 other customers who signed her petition.

On November 1st, Bank of America announced that it would not move forward with implementing the debit card fee. BofA co-chief operating officer David Darnell stated in a press release, “We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize concern with our proposed debit usage fee. Our customers’ voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.” The decision marks an incredible victory for Molly and over 306,000 other customers who signed her petition., Molly was able to recruit hundreds of thousands of people across the country to join her in successfully challenging one of America’s most powerful financial institutions – and also influencing the behavior of other major banks.


Now this is only one small issue. It's small potatoes to B of A. But it shows that activism works - IF you're willing to put out the effort.

One David (Davidette, actually LOL) struck a Goliath with a pebble. That won't hurt much. But if a thousand Davids hit that Goliath with a thousand pebbles, well that's gotta hurt!

So let's not take the old, "What can I do about it?" or "We can't make a difference, they're too big." or the ever popular, "We'd just be wasting our time." kind of attitudes and get out there and hand out that literature and do some recruiting.

Also, election day is next Tuesday. It's too late to run this year. But we have a whole year to get ready for the next one. Besides, 2012 is a presidential election year, and more people turn out at the polls than at any other kind of election, so that's the one to go for.

Remember, we're not going for the presidency. That's asking too much. Besides, you don't start at the top. You start at the bottom and work your way up. Local, non-partisan elections are the ticket:
School board, city council, sanitation commissioner, water board, even mayor, if you live in a small town and you are not known as a National Socialist.

We don't want to run under the Swastika. That would be nice, but it would also be unwise. Run under the radar. Most of these offices are non-partisan, meaning your political affiliation is irrelevant. You don't even need to be a member of any party to run.

Most of these offices have a filing fee of $0 to $100 and/or require a petition of 25 to 50 signatures.
Some require neither. Check with your county Registrar Of Voters. They'll give you all the details you need to register to get on the ballot. Most offices require a minimum age of 30 - 35, depending on your state and county.

Also, the ANP has a Political Advisory Board. We can help you get started. Everyone on the board has either run for office at least once, or has really done their homework as to what needs to be done. We're here to help you.

But YOU have to take the first step yourself. What step is that? YOU have to decide to take up the challenge of running yourself. We can't do that for you. That's your decision. After you take that first step, then we can help you.

BTW, for those of you who are unemployed, these offices PAY a real salary. Plus, for every term you serve, you earn so many dollars a month for a pension, collectible the moment you leave office.
You don't have to wait until you're 65 or 67. How much depends on what office, and what state you live in. The more terms you serve, the larger the pension.

Except of legal or judicial offices like city attorney, or a judge do not specifically require any college at all. Even school board doesn't technically require college, though I doubt you'll get any votes without at least some college.

Some may be wondering if I'm going to try again. Well, I will someday, but not today. It's only been a year or so since I was outed by the press. But I'm definitely not through for good.

Dan 88!

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