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Lessons From Bank of America’s Scrapped Fee

November 3, 2011

Bank of America announced Tuesday that it would not proceed with its plan to charge its customers a $5 per-month debit card usage fee.  The announcement has been claimed as a victory by many groups, such as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, but for businesses everywhere, including credit unions, the announcement reinforces some lessons.

The power of the internet/social media: A 22-year-old BofA customer launched an online petition shortly after the bank announced the proposed debit card fee.  Reports indicate the petition drew as many as 100,000 signatures within a week.

The internet is a double-edged sword for businesses.  It can be used to generate buzz about exceptional service/products.  It can just as easily inform potential members/customers of policies or services deemed “bad.”  Think through social media strategies carefully and “what if” them with the bad things that could happen, and what the response might look like.  Also ask the question, do we need a social media strategy?

The importance of thinking through actions before implementing them: How does BofA’s decision to scrap these plans make them look to the public—like a corporation that listens to its customers, as they claim, or as a desperate one, grasping at straws and not thinking through their actions?  How will this affect their reputation?  Arguments can be made on either side, but many are left wondering what else the bank has up its sleeve.

A question more specific to credit unions is, what affect, if any, will this news have on November 5th’s Bank Transfer Day, the day designated for Americans to close their accounts at big banks and move their funds to smaller banks or credit unions?  Will consumers who were going to participate still move their banking, or was the debit card fee a big decision driver for them and now they will stay put?  Only time will tell.

What do you think?  Click here to let us know what you think will happen on Bank Transfer Day.

Source:  Under Pressure, Bank of America Drops $5 Debit Card Fee

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