Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Paying the Price

Banks are notorious for the fees they incur on people for even the little things like ATM transactions. The thing that gets me the most about these is that there's no way to get around them, especially with big banks. For example, some banks charge you to use an ATM and to see a teller. Some banks have plans to start charging just for having a debit card (though most have gone back on this after massive outcries and after the banks posted record profits).

I'm not sure if these fees are new, but apparently banks have been charging unemployment benefit recipients when they withdraw money from their accounts. Right at the beginning of the article, it mentions that people on unemployment are getting $189/ week. That's $189 for food, rent, utilities, and other expenses. If you pay bills monthly, that gives you $756/month to cover all bills, plus put food on the table. In other words, it's not much at all.

Two points on this. First, how can banks that post record profits justify charging people $1.50 per ATM transaction and $3 just to see someone at the counter what that person is unemployed and has to live on such a paltry amount of money? If this is being done in the name of keeping the business healthy, I have serious concerns for the CEO's of that company being able to effectively manage their business. The existance of their company should not hinge on slapping a $1.50 out of the unemployed every time they need to buy food for their families.

Second, the amount of money the unemployed receive should shut most people up who complain that the unemployed are jobless by choice and that they are leaching off the system and living the good life on our dime. How could anyone possibly live well on $189/week. I make a lot more than that, and I just about break even every month. So, how is it that people can say there are those who live well on unemployment?

If banks are charging people like this to keep themselves solvent, they have a fundamentally flawed business plan. If they are not, or don't need to incur these charges, then they should stop. Either way, the banks need to fix their mess before they expect the rest of us to pick up their slack.

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