Bank fees oddly unfair since bailout

It was time. The bell tolled, the shoe dropped, the parrot pooped and the fat lady sang when I was handed an ultimatum after my hard-earned money slipped through the twisted banking maze.

Recently a 48-cent error in my checking account turned into $68 in overdraft charges and, as with most banking transactions of late, I had this compelling urge to sink to my knees and beg forgiveness.

Instead, I chose the high road and deposited my last few dollars to right the wrong. JP Morgan/Chase Bank then handed me an ultimatum in the form of a “Say Yes!” flier that promised delightful ways my account will be charged and for my own good. Say no, and I’d be committing financial suicide.

I stared at the paper with its come-hither lettering and realized my dream of Washington Mutual Savings Bank returning to kick the “you’re not alone” Chase Bank to the curb was kaput.

The final break wasn’t easy but it was necessary – after all, no blaring neon blue bank takes $68 from my account and promises to charge delightfully outrageous fees without a fight.

Like most, I cringe at fees; prime-fees, sub-prime fees, one-time fees, all-the-time fees, overuse fees, underuse fees and the million and two miscellaneous fees banks charge. So, when I discovered this overdraft, well, let’s just say I didn’t do the happy-fee dance; what I did was recall the day taxpayers saved Chase Bank from financial meltdown.

A year ago, bank moguls predicted the end of the world if their financial dominos, built on shaky loans of their own making, fell into the abyss. I watched as these institutions received billions in taxpayer money and choked on the final bailout tally.

Since this leg-up, the economy has churned and bubbled like a putrid pot of pecuniary goo, forcing taxpayers to pinch pennies, turn down thermostats and take backyard vacations.

Then, at the end of 2009, the same Wall Street financial firms, who received billions in bailout money, doled out a jaw-dropping $20 billion in CEO bonuses.

Most would feel remorse after taking billions from working class citizens and this feeling should’ve halted CEO bonuses. But taxpayers failed to step into the mindset embraced by bank executives and their CEO’s. To them, the bailout was a “you’re darn lucky we took your money” transaction.

All of this proves the hands that give get bitten with sharp choppers. JP Morgan/Chase Bank received $25 billionin taxpayer bailout but instead of showing gratitude by cutting its customers some slack, they took my cash, handed me an ultimatum and tossed a $17 million bonus to their CEO, Jamie Dimon, for keeping the bank afloat during these tumultuous times.

Say what? Who, exactly, kept this bank afloat?

In his testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee, Dimon skirted around the bailout as the reason Chase Bank survived by serving up lofty quips and comebacks to the committee. And that, in a nutshell, explains the reason behind the phenomenal bonus he received.

So, it’s a done deal. Chase Bank, “you’re not alone,” and CEO Dimon are history. I’m moving forward, searching the horizons to find a local financial institution that had the good sense to watch their economic picture and keep its dollars in a row.

Now, I know closing my account won’t bring Chase Bank or its cohorts to their knees, but at least I’m getting up from mine.

Sandra Babcock can be reached by e-mail at sandi30@comcast.net.


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