With a Nudge, Bank of America Gets It Right

With Hurricane Sandy absolutely battering the East Coast, big banks including Wells Fargo  (NYSE: WFC  ) , Citigroup  (NYSE: C  ) , and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) stepped up to waive ATM, overdraft, and other fees for affected customers. Imagine that!

Bank of America  (NYSE: BAC  ) was also among the big banks to announce breaks for Sandy-affected customers ... with a catch. When it first announced the fee breaks, it said that customers could qualify for those waivers by calling an 800 number. Considering that the customs most in need of the break were likely without power and phone service, it was, to say the least, a "duh" moment for the bank that made it seem pretty tone-deaf.

But not to fear, B of A fans! The bank did eventually get it right, announcing late yesterday that customers would not have to call in after all to get fees waived. Instead, it's providing an automatic break for many customers on fees like over overdrafts and late payments between October 29 and November 5.

This scenario is a bit reminiscent of the bank's plans to introduce a $5 debit-card charge, only to walk back those plans a short time later after a huge outcry. It's another instance of B of A getting it right ... after a little nudge. 

Notably, it's not just fee waivers that Bank of America is providing for those in Sandy's wake. This morning, the bank tweeted the following:

#Sandy Update: 25 branches in Manhattan are open w/charging stations & refreshments.

You can see the full tweet here for a list of locations.

Considering the amount of government cheese B of A was given in its time of need, it only seems right that it'd return the favor with some refreshments in the storm-battered Northeast.

To learn more about the most-talked-about bank out there, check out our in-depth company report on Bank of America. The report details Bank of America's prospects, including three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to get access.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2012, at 3:18 PM, questioner5000 wrote:

    Considering all the tens of billions that BAC has written off on home mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and credit cards, enabling those funds to be spent elsewhere in the economy, maybe you should tone it down a bit.

    Wait ... considering all the huge fines that the Government has levied against BAC for "crimes" committed by Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, before BAC ever took them over, (that BAC itself didn't commit), maybe you should tone it down a lot.

    Then again, since the media has gone along with the idea that the "greedy banks" were the sole creators of the recession, and that greedy governments, greedy government agencies, greedy hedge funds, greedy investors, and greedy consumers are all as pure as the driven snow, maybe you should just say thank you, and shut up.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2012, at 3:31 PM, TMFKopp wrote:

    @questioner5000

    Thanks for the suggestion! I'll take that under advisement.

    As for the fines levied against BAC for Merrill and Countrywide... There is something that is done during the acquisition process called "diligence." It's where the acquirer tries to root out issues like legal risk. Why? Because post acquisition the new parent becomes responsible for legal liabilities. The lawsuits aren't an unfair attack on BAC, they're an underscore of just how dumb those acquisitions were -- Cwide in particular.

    Matt

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2012, at 10:46 PM, FundamentalsMan wrote:

    I'm not as exercised, but I'd have to agree that BAC has gotten an unfair bad rap on several issues. The 800 number may not have been their best thinking but I would chalk it up to more of an oversight that they made right than any ill intent. The debit card fee issue? I don't know why they became the poster child for that because WFC was the first I head of to be experimenting with it. I don't know who really was first but I know BAC was not alone. Finally, regarding the "diligence," who knows what was said in the meetings between the government and the big banks but the countrywide acquisition was more of a government brokered deal for the good of the system than anything else.

    Big banks have done and continue to due plenty of shady things but BAC seems to be more often than not unfairly singled out for practices that are industry wide. On this issue I think it is a bit of cheap shot to criticize them when I think they were likely trying to do the right thing.

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2012, at 10:41 AM, TMFKopp wrote:

    @FundamentalsMan

    Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to say that B of A was trying to do anything shady at all here. In fact, I think they had the right intentions. However, it's another example of how the bank has had a bit of trouble getting out of its own way. Given the nature of the storm and the way other banks responded, BAC seemed a little silly in its approach.

    It's like you're at your kid's tee-ball game and he's got a great swing, but just keeps narrowly missing connecting with the ball. You really want to see him hit it and he's *almost* there, but not quite. That's B of A right now.

    Matt

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