Saturday, November 5, 2011

American Consumers Take to the Streets and Banks

by Thomas Hinton

Despite the continued economic hardships facing so my Americans, this has been a fascinating week for redressing the rights of millions of disaffected consumers. Although the Occupy Wall Street movement is losing some momentum, the average middle-class consumer found a new way to organize and vent their frustration with major banks. The negative response among consumers began when major banks threatened to charge a monthly debit card transaction fee. The outcry was fast and loud!

Then, on Friday, November 4, Transfer Day occurred. This event was organized by consumer groups to encourage millions of unhappy bank customers to move their accounts to credit unions and smaller community banks that enjoy a reputation of being member-focused and customer-driven not to mention great customer service!

Organizations like the non-profit consumer education group, the American Consumer Council, reported more than 1,400 new members joined its ranks in order to lend their voice to consumer concerns and affiliate with a credit union associated with ACC’s network. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that customers moved an estimated $4.8 billion to credit unions in the past five weeks since the debit card fee debacle first aired.

While most large banks have abandoned their plans to levy a monthly debit card fee, the damage has already been done to their credibility and integrity. Consumers were already frustrated and angry at major banks and investment firms dating back to 2008, when the recession started and U.S. taxpayers were required to lend billions of dollars in bailout money to major Wall Street firms and banks. So, Transfer Day was one way for consumers to vent their anger at the very people who got us into this economic mess – the 1%, if you will, who have been the target of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Granted, the transfer of nearly $5 billion from major banks to credit unions and community banks is a meager sum, but it’s a start. Hopefully, Transfer Day caught the attention of the major banks who now know that consumers will vote with their feet and no longer hesitate to uproot their financial accounts and move their money to consumer-friendly credit unions and community banks that really do care about people.

About the Author: Thomas Hinton is president of the American Consumer Council, a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization with over 116,000 members and 46 state affiliate consumer councils. Mr. Hinton is a popular speaker at corporate and association events on consumer issues and trends. Contact:

No comments: