May 14, 2009

Bank of America's Squeegeemen

I was expecting a call from a relative and so I didn't check the number on my phone before answering this evening, only to find myself on the line with a telemarketer representing Bank of America.

He told me how I would be getting a "free" credit report from all three credit reporting agencies through Bank of America in weeks to come, along with a packet on how to increase and protect my credit rating.

Along with that "free" information, I would be enrolled in a credit monitoring service provided by Bank of America. The service would be free for the first month, and thereafter I would be billed roughly 40 cents a day, or $12 and change a month, if I didn't opt out of the program within the free period.

I politely told the young man on the phone that I found opt-out scams to rook customers both immoral and unethical, and told him I had no interest in being part of the program.


He responded by continuing with his script, never acknowledging that I desired to opt-out of this involuntary opt-in program, one designed to take advantage of busy people who would doubtlessly see free credit reports show up in the mail, and either shred them or throw them away without finding the fine-print legalese that will allow them to opt out of a program they never signed up for.

This is robbery. To be sure, they walk just inside the line of legality, but when someone starts providing you with a service that you don't want, and then extract payment for it, it is coerced, and it is wrong.

Bank of America has become little more than squeegemen, using trickery to extract payment for an unwanted service.

I doubt they'll get the $33.9 billion that Tax Cheat Timmy requires, but they seem desperate enough to try any and all measures to raise the funds the Obama requires, no matter how vile or unethical.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 14, 2009 08:09 PM

I'm not an expert on the relevant business law, but I'm pretty sure that most judges would look favorably on a lawsuit by a consumer who argues, "I never asked for this to show up in my mailbox, I never wanted it, and I never signed *or* gave verbal consent to any agreement to provide me with this service. Without any form of contract, written *or* verbal, with me, the bank has no right to charge me for a service I never requested. If they want to put junk mail in my mailbox, I can't stop them -- but I certainly will not pay for a service that I never agreed to receive in the first place."

I very much doubt that the situation you describe is "just inside the line of legality." It may appear to be, but I'm pretty sure that were it tested in court, the judge would agree that the bank has no right to sign you up for a paying service without your explicit consent. Raising their rates and fees, yes, they have the right to do that -- but signing you up for a new service without your consent? This has "lawsuit" written ALL over it. Worse yet for BoA, it has "class-action lawsuit" written all over it, and class-action lawsuits mean MILLIONS of dollars for the lawyer who manages to land the case. So I imagine there WILL be a suit filed at some point, if the situation is as you describe.

Posted by: Robin Munn at May 14, 2009 11:16 PM

This is why I sign up on the state and federal no call lists. It took about 4 months to take full effect but once it did I received no calls for several years until I had to renew on the Federal list.

Also, these marketers cannot get off the phone fast enough if you tell them you are on the federal no call list.

Posted by: Alec at May 15, 2009 02:12 AM

I severed all business relationships with BofA last year because they were turning into vile slimebags.

I suspect their policies are driving customers away in droves and this will be reflected in earnings a few quarters down the road. I can't be the only one who decided to pack it in on them.

Once alienate someone and they leave, they never come back.

Posted by: PA at May 16, 2009 02:32 PM

I got the same message from Chase. I guess they are all on the ropes and pimping as best they can.

I guess Obama has cut off their toilet paper budget.

Posted by: Typical White Person at May 16, 2009 10:24 PM