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Bank of America's reconsideration an example of the 'Occupy' influence

BY SAMUEL CLEARY | NOVEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Officials of the Bank of America announced Tuesday, to the relief of many and to the surprise of a few, that they will drop their plan for debit-card fees after much public outcry.

The timely and concerned reaction of big banks to the public's response to the fee implementations should be a testament to the efforts and agencies of vocal Americans everywhere. The incident also suggests that perhaps the presence of the Occupy movement has had a particularly real influence on the actions of corporate America.

Bank of America is one of the largest national banks in America, second only to JP Morgan Chase. Many similar banking corporations had publicly announced intentions to follow suit with similar policies. Subsequently, most of them — including Chase and Wells Fargo — have also announced a change.

The fee, which would have pinned a $5 charge onto each monthly statement, was met upon announcement last month with a great deal of discontent from Bank of America customers.

The retraction follows a raucous backlash from those customers — one of whom, according to the New York Times, even collected 200,000 signatures for a petition against the implementation of the fee.

Maybe we common people do still have some pull with the big guys.

Bank of America's announcement occurred amid the height of media fixation on the chaos that is the Occupy movement. The peculiar overlay in chronology presents an interesting opportunity for a consideration of the two in relation to one another.

The Occupy movement has been going on for what seems to be nearly a month now, and with exponentially expanding numbers and intentions, the movement shows no signs of stopping. But perhaps the members will take a coffee break and indulge in a moment to revel in the headlines.

Bank of America's actions and the response of the public seem to a tell us a few things. For one, it provides a perfect example of big banks implementing unnecessary and unfair stipulations. That Bank of America announced its intention and then withdrew it so readily demonstrates the plan's obvious lack of necessity. Clearly, the charge wasn't a necessary plan vital to the banks' well-being or a mark of hard financial times, because the bank seemed so quick to save face. The bank's initial intent seemed to be one rooted purely in profit.

Bank of America's retraction is a sign of the times — a testament to Americans (whether involved in "Occupy" or not) still having a say in the comings and goings of the corporations in which they place their trust and their fortunes.

Change seems to present itself in strange ways. Call it selfish, call it lazy, but it's true: When it comes to things that possess the potential to adversely affect our personal lives — especially our wallets — angry Americans are a clientele (and a force) to be reckoned with.

While individual goals vary from isolated group to isolated group, the movement still prides itself on a mission that remains undeniably focused on seeking the attention — and checking — of big banks in corporate America. It seems that the reality of the Occupy movement has dealt out a fair share of pressure to/upon corporations such as Bank of America. The organization has provided a catalyst for distaste and discontent within the American civilian body. In a sense, it's created — or at least added to — the fire of public agency and the degree to which the masses are vocal.

Whether you're holed up in a tent in Iowa City, braving the cold weather and lack of running water, or staring angrily at newsprint on a Sunday morning, be proud and press onward.


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