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Irate Bank Customers Staging Online Revolt

From: "Irate Bank Customers Staging Online Revolt", CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy, CBS Evening News, 9/23/09

Click here to view video

Upset over Higher Interest Rates and Fees, Consumers are Fighting Back - and Banks are Finally Listening

"I'm staging a debtors' revolt right here, right now," Minch says on the Internet video.

When Bank of America raised her credit card interest rate from 13 percent to a whopping 30 percent, Ann went viral, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

"I could get a better rate from a loan shark," she said online.

So she gave them her terms - lower the rate or she won't pay.

"Stick that in your bailout pipe and smoke it," Minch said.

The video was viewed a quarter million times. Thousands responded complaining about their own banks.

"Capital One, you can just kiss my a**," said one angry customer on an Internet video.

American banks are easy targets. They got billions in bailout funds and are now raising rates and fees on those very same taxpayers.

"Banks are doing whatever they can to squeeze the last dollar out of consumers," said Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

This year banks are expected to make more than $38 billion in overdraft fees alone, up from $18 billion in 1999.

The problem is your debit card. Instead of declining the sale when a customer's account is low, many banks allow it to go through and then charge the customer a hefty fee. The average overdraft fee at large banks is now nearly $35 dollars.

Some lawmakers want to require banks to get permission from customers before giving them overdraft protection. If they decline they can no longer spend what they don't have and would avoid the fees.

But perhaps to avoid more regulations, today Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase overhauled their overdraft polices. Both banks will now ask customers if they want overdraft protection. Bank of America won't charge a fee when an account is less than $10 overdrawn; at Chase it's $5 or less. Bank of America will cap the number of overdraft fees at four per day; Chase at three.

Yet banks say avoiding these fees should be simple.

"It is really up to the customer to know what their balance is and how much they have to spend," said Nessa Feddis of the American Bankers Association.

Yet banks can no longer ignore customer complaints now that they're online. After seeing Ann Minch's video, Bank of America called and lowered her rate.

Said Minch: "A small victory for this debtor's revolt movement."

Which may only be getting started.

Written By: rnybeck
Date Posted: 10/4/2009
Number of Views: 2469