Those of us that have been watching the economy with a degree of concern might feel that the banks and business have lost touch with the America we thought we lived in. My naive view of what banks were for was to provide a secure place for people to keep their money and to receive interest on their savings and at the same time your money would be loaned out to others for a little more than you were being paid for your savings. Those activities are only a marginal part of banking today. Banks make billions on fees designed to screw their customers.
About a month ago Intuit (the makers of Quicken) told me that they had crippled my 2007 version of Quicken so it would no longer download transactions as it had been for the past few years. I naively assumed that when I bought the software it would work as advertised for as long as I chose to use it. There was no technical reason behind this move, it was simply a means of screwing me and millions of other users out of another $40, nothing else. You might say I was free to stop using their product, and this is true, but they know that the amount of effort to switch to something else would have cost me more than $40; but the point is, it is a dirty double-cross, unethical, and quite likely illegal; but I’m certainly not in a position to spend millions to get our legal system to do the right thing.
As I set up my new version of Quicken, I decided to correct all the many bugs and annoyances I’d been living with and to try to get a totally accurate and up to date picture of my finances. This meant setting up several on-line accounts, and that’s where I found that the banks are now charging for the automatic downloads of transactions $3.95 per month. I try not to think in the terms the banks wants us to think, so I did the math, $3.95 * 12 = $47.40 and of course I deal with three banks and four brokerage houses and a number of other institutions; so its close to $500 a year that I’m supposed to spend for what used to be “free”. Before all these fees, the same services were provided for free and the banks were making healthy profits. The banks have grown bigger and bigger as they gobble up smaller banks, reducing out freedom of choice and making it so it is impossible to avoid the dozens of fees with which the banks are sticking us.
Banks hit us with ATM fees. An ATM allows a bank to do the same work with fewer employees, tus saving the bank substantial amounts of money, then they charge us for using these impersonal cost savers.
When you call just about any business, you will likely get an electronic voice and be required to sift through annoying menu after menu and then you’ll be put on hold and be forced to listen to advertisements and lies about how much they value your business. If you end up trying to use on-line services, next time you do it, notice all the hoops they put you through to make what should be a convenience not only inconvenient, bit downright annoying and often fraught with lots of slight of hand. – Ever filled out an electronic form only to find that choices you thought you had made or not made were automatically changed back. You know the items, “Do you wish to receive our annoying emails?” Somehow, you always end up being tricked into agreeing to something you really don’t want. You choose not to receive such and such, then you are told you need to provide some additional info only to find that if you don’t re-read the entire form, some options have been turned back on. Hmmm. American businesses simply have no respect for the consumer.