November 5, 2011

Sarasota Bank Transfer Day

The big banks thought they would start charging customers to use their debit cards. Wells Fargo and Chase were testing out a $3 monthly fee. SunTrust was charging $5. Bank of America was planning a $5 fee. Stephen Troutner from Citibank said “We have talked to customers and they have made it abundantly clear that ‘if you charge me to use my debit card, I would find that very irritating'". Mr. Troutner was right.

Customers were so irritated with this new wave of fees that many of them voted with their feet. For the month since September 29, when Bank of America made their announcement, over 650,000 joined a credit union. That's 50,000 more than joined in ALL of 2010. By November 1, all of the big banks had scrapped these planned fees. I thought this might put a crimp in plans for today's Bank Transfer Day. It did not. The same issues are still in play.

This morning following a General Assembly, Occupy Sarasota held a march around downtown. Most Sarasota downtown banks were closed today, so it comes as no surprise that nobody in the group chose to close their bank account today. For my part, I closed my Bank of America account yesterday. As we marched, I spoke with several protesters and bystanders to find out where they did their banking. Here are the answers in the order in which I received them:

  • no bank, uses money orders when necessary
  • Bank of the Ozarks (who knew there was a branch in Bradenton, FL),
  • will be switching to Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida,
  • BB&T (one of the banks that received bailout funds),
  • Ukrainian Federal Credit Union (internet banking),
  • as of today, will switch out of Bank of America, but not sure where
  • no bank, uses cash
The marchers made it back to Five Points for a discussion of possible future directions for Occupy Sarasota. Unfortunately, I had to leave early and cannot report on whether any decisions were made.

Sources: New York Times, Credit Union National Associaiton Press Release


  1. So glad to see you all out there. The Occupy St Pete protest got reported on by WMNF.

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