Earlier this week, I was held hostage.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but at least that’s how it felt. That’s because it took nearly an hour to withdraw funds from a small checking account I had at Bank of America.
No, there wasn’t a long line or a run on the bank (yet). I wasn’t asking for a huge sum of money.
I was just trying to get my money out because of an “alleged” security breach that “might” have affected my account. As a result of this breach,
I was locked out of my account while on vacation. Fortunately, I already had cash and a credit card. Many in a similar situation would have been out of luck.
If you’re ever in a similar situation where a bank is giving you the run-around and won’t give you your own money, here’s a tip:
Just ask, loudly enough for all the customers in line behind you to hear, why the bank is no longer giving customers its own money, or if it’s even solvent.
I wish things didn’t have to come to that. It’s really an embarrassment. Not for me, but for Bank of America.
After all, this is the same Bank of America that is trying to sell off stakes China Bank and Pizza Hut franchisee NPC International (among other assets) to raise billions of dollars in capital.
It’s the same Bank of America that’s announced that it will lay off more than 28,000 employees, a hair more than 10 percent of its staff, to cut costs.
It’s the same Bank of America that isn’t paying depositors interest in its accounts and now wants to impose a debit card fee in January.
If these measures aren’t enough to shore up capital reserves, it’ll be the same Bank of America that goes gorging at the taxpayer trough yet again.
The bank seems to have forgotten that, even though they hold the money, it’s not theirs.
I certainly don’t blame the employees at my local branch. The real issue here is with what I call “Institutional Evil.”
Basically, when a company is so large that it needs to create guidelines, rules and protocols for everything to the point where common sense is penalized and unexpected events throw everything out of order, innocent people suffer.
What truly makes Institutional Evil so vile is that those who perpetuate it don’t realize that it’s wrong. The “worker bees” can just claim that they’re only following orders. Call it a modern, corporate version of the Nuremberg Defense.
Companies with high levels of Institutional Evil tend to simply muddle along, so they make for terrible investments. It’s one of those investment criteria your broker can’t tell you about, but word of mouth can.
It’s also a great reason why you need to diversify all your financial assets, including your bank account.
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