Entrepreneuer Josh Reich’s BankSimple concept (the bank that isn’t a bank because banks suck) continues to get closer to reality and is expected to go live this Fall for its first 10,000 customers. Heavy on the technology and light on the fees, he received a pretty nice write-up in Business Week. This just might be a good option for those of you reaching the end of the BS you have to put up with at Chase.
Innovator: Building a Better Bank
Fed up with poor service at traditional banks, Josh Reich is building BankSimple—an alternative with “the agility and mindset of a tech company”
By Ira Boudway
Ask Josh Reich about banks, and he’s quick to tell you they “suck.” Traditional banks, Reich says, have become giant tangles of computer systems that can’t talk to each other and can scarcely keep track of their customers. So the 32-year-old developed what he calls BankSimple, an alternative bank with “the agility and mindset of a tech company.”
Another (yet another) story about Chase not getting the small-details right. These stories don’t seem to be limited to any one area of the products and services they offer. This one happens to be about a mortgage tax and insurance escrow fund.
At first, the customers had their insurance and taxes paid into an escrow account with Chase, and Chase would take care of the taxes and insurance. But the payments slowly grew over time until the homeowners called them to ask what’s up. What was up was that Chase incorrectly collected $4,000 more than it needed to. So the homeowners decided to opt-out of the escrow account.
The problem is, Chase keeps sending them nasty letters (third time now in 3 years) about overdue escrow account payments, for, of all things, their neighbors water bill. The fixed the problem once, and it happened again. They fixed the problem a second time, and Chase is now doing it for the third time.
No used-to-be-a-different-bank excuses here; the loan was originated through Chase.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning on new tricks that banks are coming up with to try and regain lost income due to fees and other tactics limited by the Credit Card Reform Act of 2009. While they don’t attribute many of the tricks discussed to particular banks, they do call out JP Morgan Chase in particular as being among those aggressively implementing these new fee income schemes.
Among the tricks to watch out for:
Increase in or addition of annual fees
Marketing “professional” (instead of consumer) cards. These cards are marketed to individuals but act like corporate cards, and aren’t regulated the same as consumer cards under the Credit Card Act.
Charging a late fee when a payment is due on a Sunday but not received until the following Monday, by claiming that they DO accept payments on Sundays even though there is no mail delivery.
Charging high finance charges but then offering a large discount off of them via a rebate card. The rebate card can be revoked at any time, effectively increasing the finance charge, and this isn’t regulated by the Credit Card Act.
Shortening the billing cycle to below 21 days, despite the fact that the Credit Card Act specifically says this is illegal.
Increasing balance transfer charges, or instance from 2% to 5%.
Raising minimum finance charges, for instance from 50 cents to $1.50. This is what you would pay at a minimum even if you paid off your bill in full.
Charging up-front activation fees when you sign up for a card. On low credit limit cards, such as those marketed to college students, these activation fees along with the annual fee, can take up most of the initial limit of the card, forcing customers over their credit limit (which then costs a fee) unknowingly when they spend a small amount.
Increasing foreign transaction fees, say from 2% to 3%, and being more aggressive on what they apply to. Say for instance you purchase something from a company in Canada and the transaction is in dollars. That might now be subject to a foreign transaction fee.
The article suggests the following ways to fight back
Always pay your bill on time. Personally, I pay mine whenever I get the statement.
Dispute fees directly with the issuer whenever there is a fee you think is unreasonable or notice anything that looks wrong in your statement. Raise hell.
This isn’t the first report I’ve seen of Chase employing this debt collection tactic: place a debt collection call to a customer, hang up before saying anything, and record whatever notes they want on the account for the call. Here is a video describing this scenario.
The comments on the original post are not sympathetic, telling the poster to pay their debts. What is not at question here is Chase’s right to try and collect on debts owed to them, it is their tactics. They frequently seem to provide serious impediments to people who honestly want to try and pay their debts.
There must be a division within Chase who’s only job is to track down people who owe them money and have unsuspectingly come under the Chase umbrella again. These people must be whetting their lips every time Chase acquires another company, as they have a new pool of people to go after.
Yes, yet another story about Chase sneaking money out of someones current bank account for past debts, whether those debts are valid or not.
I have a checking account with WaMu, which failed and was now bought by JPMorgan Chase. A couple of years ago, I had a credit card with Chase. I defaulted and the account was charged off and never paid. I was not (yet) sued, so there is no judgment on the debt. Now that JPMorgan Chase owns WaMu, can they snatch my money out of my checking account and apply it to that old defaulted credit card debt?
No one can dispute Chase’s ability to go after money owed to them. The problem is their approach of guilty until proven innocent and the fact that they fail to inform the customers that money has been taken or what old debt it is to satisfy, often times causing people to rack up overdraft charges for no good reason. Customers are left to call Chase and find someone with a clue that can tell them what happened.
A more reasonable approach would be for them to put a hold on the funds, send the customer a letter describing the reason why their funds are held, and informing them of the process to dispute it.
I am still seeing lots of articles about unclaimed WaMu assets, which were transferred to the states rather than to Chase bank after Chase bought Washington Mutual; a total of $251 million. So go to your states unclaimed property website (search Google on ‘state name unclaimed property’) to see if any of that money is yours.