Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bankers in the Palace

"In days of yore, when investors were brave,

And journeyed from their bonds and savings,

Trusty men were called upon,

To speak of opportunities worth raving.

They helped themselves to fees and charges,

And drank from crystal chalice.

Oh, it was a stirring sight,

Those bankers in the palace.

And some things still haven't changed.  Hit us, boys!"

So, Chase sweeps to the rescue, under orders from the FDIC or whomever.  And over the last year they have slowly been digesting what they ate.  This morning, after being shut down all (holiday) weekend, they went live with all wamu.com accounts on chase.com.  So I went in to see how it was.  There are some changes, most of which I could get used to.  But then I went to my financial management software.

WAMU had opened up the protocol allowing people to access their accounts through Money or Quicken without any charges.  Chase, it seems, wants to charge me $9.95 per month for that.

They had a link to their full list of fees and charges.  Here it is.  Anyone else outraged?

Ok, I'll admit it.  I was spoiled by Washington Mutual.  But fundamentally, at least the way that I understand the way a bank works, the profits for a bank are the difference between the interest rates that they charge on loans and the interest that they pay on savings.  That's what a bank is supposed to do.  If they are charging fees, it's to discourage bad behavior and teach people how to handle their money responsibly.

What Chase, and I'm sure a lot of the other monopoly level banks, seem to want to do instead is charge fees instead of being smart about who they give their loans to.  If people can't pay back their loans, DON'T GIVE THEM THE LOANS.  Why is that difficult to understand?  Oh, but they're allowed to charge all these fees, and they can sell the loans on the open market...

I'm going to call them and try to make sense of whether they are going to charge me for accessing my accounts online through a third party.  If they do, I'm taking my banking elsewhere.  Anyone know of a good bank that isn't out to screw with their account holders?  Anyone?  Bueler?...

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