America's financial institutions, ever mindful of putting on a good face for their adoring public, have begun to show their gratitude for the billions--make that BILLIONS, or, rather BILLIONS--of taxpayer-funded bailout money they received to allow them to continue doing business and collecting their obscenely-large salaries, commissions, bonuses, perks, etc., ad nauseum.
To demonstrate their remorse for driving full-speed toward the cliff of doom while pretending not to notice, only to be saved in the nick of time by those poor, dumb schlub American taxpayers right at the brink of annihilation, the banks are in full "giving" mode. As in "giving" us the shaft.
- Piling on the fees: $19 if you don't use your credit card for 12 months or a 2% surcharge for purchases outside the US; so there's a fee if you use your card and another fee if you don't?
- Jacking up overdraft fees: up to $34 a pop, which adds up to an estimated $17.5 billion annually for the banking industry. This allows banks to raise the euphemistically-termed "overdraft protection" fee; we couldn't very well have the overdraft protection fee be more than the overdraft fee, now could we?
- Unexpectedly boosting interest rates on credit cards: monthly rates from the banks are now comparable to what Vinny down on the corner charges; things are now so bad for him, he's had to lay off two of his goons,
- Closing credit card accounts out of the blue: "no reason, just 'cause we feel like it," as in this story: "I had it happen while I was on vacation in Germany. I called ahead of time to let them know where I would be but they disallowed my card without checking their notes. Their explanation: we called your house, but no one answered. That's because I already told them I'd be in Germany!"
Customer service, customer schmervice! It's sooooo over-rated. Besides, why waste it on the little people.
Now, financial workers at some of Wall Street's finest banking establishments are set to receive paydays worth more than $70 billion in appreciation for all their hard work this year. Staff at six banks, including our friends at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, are ready to cash in on these discretionary bonuses, despite having taken $700 billion in bailouts. Congress was to hold hearings on excessive payouts to these financial institutions, but there's this "honor among thieves" thing.....
The new swine flu