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Summer Vacation: Time for Consumer Activism


I hope someone at Key Bank is reading their customer comments today. But in case they are not I'm posting this in hopes that it inspires other to spend a smidgen of their free time to communicate with their banks. I received an email this morning from my bank telling me about their new email program to "better understand my money, manage it, and most importantly, accumulate it." To Key Bank's credit the email included a link to unsubscribe from their financial tips, news and resource spam. Upon unsubscribing, they asked me for my reasons. On this particular morning I felt obliged to explain and take a screenshot of my comment for your enjoyment.


To set the stage, I had time to actually read two articles yesterday. The first entitled Capital One to Pay $210 Million in First CFPB Enforcement, detailed how Capital One's third party vendors were duping their customers into signing up for credit card add-ons. “Today’s action puts $140 million back in the pockets of two million Capital One customers who were pressured or misled into buying credit card products they didn’t understand, didn’t want, or in some cases, couldn’t even use,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.

Although this just added fuel to my fiery disgust for abusive banks I did feel a little vindicated that the Dodd- Frank Act was actually being used to do something for American citizens. This was also a credit to Obama for appointing Cordray. But being the perennial cynic that I am, I couldn't help but think about the convenient timing for Obama's campaign. The Dodd- Frank Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010 and the settlement details abuses by Capital One stretching back to 2010. Ok I thought, "better late than never".

That is until I read another article entitled: Goldman CEO Blankfein Said to Meet With Obama Adviser Lew, at the end of which I found the following turd that pushed me back into the red, "The last time Blankfein visited the White House was on Oct. 12 for a meeting with Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama who is also an administration liaison to the business community. Before today, visitor logs show he had been to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 15 times, six of those times to meet with the president." This reminded me that Obama is really only a populist in comparison to his predecessor.

And this highlights the real tragedy of America's political thinking, voting for the lesser to two evils only ensures that evil will continue to sit in the White House. And so that was the searing ember upon which Key Bank's email containing "truly helpful financial information" fell.

I understand if some say that Key doesn't deserve my misplaced wrath. But the fact remains that corporations legally corrupt our democratic process and we as consumers are the sole enablers of that corruption. Without our money, corporations lose that ability.

Some yet more cynical may think that I'm wasting my time. Its true that corporations have no conscience. However, those that work within corporations are real people with real morals. Many of them actually do wish to profit from providing valuable services that don't undermine my civil rights. After all they might just be American citizens as well. I simply want let them know that I am a concerned and conscious consumer waiting to move my money elsewhere given proper justification.

I'm sharing this all with you hoping to inspire other tiny direct actions with your spare time. This is because I strongly believe that if we all are properly informed and act carefully upon our own best interests we can tame the corporate beasts that plunder our civic capital. In reality, I fear it may be our only course of action. It is probably also the case that you are better at this type of activism than I am.

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