Last Saturday my husband and I went down to our local Bank of America branch, stood in line, and closed our checking account.
It was something we’d thought about for a while- we’ve been dissatisfied with them for some time, really, but we were entrenched. His paycheck was direct deposit, and we had automatic bill-pay for so many things- the gas, the netflix, my student loans, the phone, the internet, etc, etc. All the bills are due at different times, they all have penalty fees if they’re late. And then there are the things you don’t remember to check- I never use my paypal account, but, yep, it’s connected to my BofA account. Our Fastrack pass- yep, also connected. itunes- also connected. It just seemed a little overwhelming.
Then we heard about Bank Transfer Day.
For those of you who have not been following this as closely as I have (which is probably most of you, really, and that’s fine), Nov. 5 was declared Bank Transfer Day, and everyone was encouraged to move their money out of the major banks and into local credit unions on or by Nov. 5. According to all the reports I’ve heard so far, it was a tremendous success– I know NPR was reporting that credit unions opened more new accounts in the last month than they had in all of the previous year, and they were expecting the total to continue to grow.
We were prepared in advance- we had all our info, our debit cards, both of us (joint account). It was busy, but before we got to the teller, the branch manager came and took us out of line to her desk (I think it was just coincidence- she was just taking customers like everyone else because of the crowd). She was clearly a bit taken aback that we wanted to close our account, but was very polite and helpful. She wanted to know why, and we told her we were unhappy with the way Bank of America was treating its customers, especially the recently instated and then-dropped-after-public-outcry debit card fee. She pointed out, correctly, that that position had been reversed, but we said it was too late. We added that the nature of our account was about to change (student checking w/ no minimum balance to a regular checking w/ a minimum balance and annual fees), and that as we had found another bank that would better serve our needs, we were taking our business elsewhere.
She did as we asked without pressuring us much, for which I was grateful- we did make a point of telling her that all of the personal service we’d received from B of A, from real live people, had always been excellent, and it was only the corporation that we really had problems with, and she seemed mollified a bit by that. She did make a half-hearted stab at trying to dissuade us as we stood in line to get our cash, wanting to know more specifics about our new bank in the clear hopes of finding something B of A was better at, but she couldn’t come up with anything. So we took our cash and left.
It was a bit anti-climatic- there were no screaming throngs of Occupiers outside the bank to greet us with confetti made of old checks. No people in Anonymous masks shaking our hands. But there was a definite sense of freedom- albeit with some strings still attached. As of this writing, our account is still “processing”. It’s empty, but not yet done closing (heaven knows why). Some random charge may come through and trigger the account to reopen, in which case we have to do it all again.
But. We are the 99%, and we are 99% free.
Another week, and we’re in the clear.