Bank Transfer Day was last Saturday.
About 100 people gathered outside the Chase bank on Madison’s square on Saturday November 5th as part of a national Bank Transfer Day. I interviewed a man I’ll call Al who ritualistically cut up his Chase card and then walked in to close his account. In his case, he had previously been a customer of Chase for 23 years. Or more accurately, over the course of 23 years he was a customer with other financial institutions that absorbed each other until finally Chase absorbed them and became the tender of his money.
He did that card cutting with a few other card-cutters from Occupy Madison, MoveOn.org and the Madison community. He got a tip that if he walked straight from the crowd to the bank he would probably be kept out of the bank. To put the bank guard at ease, he got some kettle corn with his friend and approached from another direction as if he were just another shopper from the farmers market.
Al was then met by 5 staff who said,”What can we do for you?”. Al sat down with one of Chase bank’s staff who then made the closure of his account a rather drawn-out process. The extended conversation was interrupted at one point by a protester bursting in to in Al’s words “start screaming”.
The staffer emphasized some of Chase’s better points, telling Al that Chase paid $2 million in Wisconsin state and local taxes in 2010. Al gave me a sheet that the staffer gave to him. It has the heading, “JPMorgan Chase & Co. THE WAY FORWARD”.
I’m looking at a 2nd sheet a protester handed to me outside Chase which has the heading, “What you may not know about JP Morgan Chase Bank”. It says if JP Morgan Chase paid “it’s fair share” of 2010 U.S. taxes it would be $1,988,000,000.00 and lists other pertinent points like the fact that the company has 50 offshore tax havens. The sheet doesn’t make it clear to me exactly what Chase did in fact pay in 2010 at the national level, but MoveOn and others claim Chase paid nothing.
While the Chase staffer remained kind throughout, Al thought he became especially tedious when he demanded to know why that particular Chase branch in Madison wasn’t worthy of Al’s business. In a last ditch attempt to appeal to Al, the staffer held his hand over his Chase badge and his heart, leaned in, and said “I live here. I care about the community. I haven’t worked here all that long. This is my job. I think that I can still feel good about what it is I am doing, but I am open to listening to you.”
On that personal lean-in moment, Al said, “I think that there’s a better than 50% chance that was part of his training, too.”
Chase’s The Way Forward site: jpmorganchase.com/thewayforward
Photos below are also on facebook.