Rolling Stone’s “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail”

Right now I’m reading this terrific article, “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail”, written by Matt Taibbi over on Rolling Stone. It’s a long one and I am enjoying it.

I worked for Bank of America for five years. And this article confirms everything I’d ever really suspected about them. I hated working for the company because they shoved this corporate line of customer service down our throats so we could regurgitate it to the customers. But almost every change in policy or new procedure the bank implemented made it very clear that they didn’t give a damn about the customers.

That’s why they beat us senseless with the customer service stick. The only way we could convince people to stay with us was because they liked the people that worked at the branches. We were the same people that did not see any benefit from BofA growing bloated and corrupt.

So true:

This deeply American terror of not always having the absolutely hugest dick in the room is what put us in the inescapable box called Too Big to Fail.

I didn’t realize that up until about 1985, there were federal laws that didn’t allow banks to operate in more than one state. That was changed, apparently, because larger banks could operate more efficiently and offer better service for increasingly mobile customers. Let me tell you, this is not true in Bank of America’s case. The bank had grown too big to operate efficiently. Key functions and services were departmentalized, stripping employees of the ability to serve the diverse needs of customers. In order to solve problems, I frequently had to deal with an average of three different departments. And frequently one department would just hand me off to another. The left hand did not talk to the right. Furthermore, there were fundamental flaws with interstate transactions that I believe are unsolved to this day.

I still bank with Bank of America. But it is only because they have the best online banking interface I have ever used. As soon as Simple launches, though, I am out of there.

Taibbi is right. The government should have let Bank of America crash and burn. As an institution, it is doing far more harm than good.

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5 thoughts on “Rolling Stone’s “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail”

  1. It’s easy to hate a big company, and that seems to be the popular band wagon these days. Fact is, there is always a protest when there is a new Wal Mart (I’ve yet to see protests for Target and K-Mart). Whenever fast food is slammed, McDonalds talks the fault even though BK and others do the same business. Just the other day the news was slandering BofA and then failed to apologize when they were actually reporting on CitiBank. 

    BofA was bailed out, but they paid everything back WITH full interest. How many home owners would be able to payback the their bail out? None. All this talk of anti corporate sentiment is bull. Especially the Occupy Wall Street was just a bunch of bums wanting hand outs

    • I gather from your comment that you read neither my full post, nor the article I linked to.

      It’s not about hating a big company, it’s about hating a bad company. I worked for Bank of America when they took and then repaid the bailout funds. And the company did not change at all during that time.

      What I found fascinating is the history of the company that is totally obscured by the hypocritical corporate culture within the bank. I’m writing about Bank of America because I know first hand that they do not care about the customers, at least not at the middle management levels. I was able to draw connections between my experience and the history being explained in the article.

      I’m not tearing down BofA for the sake of complaining about a big company. I take real issue with them as a former employee and as a customer. Really, as an American.

      If you have a particular counter-point related to either my post or the article, I’d love to hear it.

    • I want to follow-up my first reply.

      This isn’t about whether Bank of America paid back the bailout funds. This is about the company being bailed out in the first place even though it was stealing money. They have barely begun to payback the innocent people the screwed out of retirements and pensions because of the toxic investments they sold.

      Looking back, the mentality really was: “let’s do whatever it takes to make our numbers go up.”

  2. I encourage you to read the article first, then form your opinion. I just finished reading it and am sickened by all I learned. And, I am a business woman – very pro-business.

    Greed, total lack of integrity are words that don’t even begin to describe the behavior of BoA executives. Point is, these people and others like them are destroying our country. People — the general public — need to have a better understanding of what’s going on & how these seemingly abstract and far-removed activities are actually impacting all of us on a personal level. And, painful as it is, we need to stop enabling the bad behavior via government bailouts if we are ever to recover.

    • Well put, Julie.

      Seeing Band of America as very much a part of the problem is not jumping on the anti-corporation band-wagon. Rather, it is recognizing that a very real threat to American prosperity is using its status as a corporation to game the system and screw us all.

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