to JPMorgan & Co., its agents, counsel and officers
©2008 Geoff Davidian
Chase lawyers ask court to protect managers from telling the truth
How to train your banker
©2006-2007 GEOFF DAVIDIAN
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (August 27, 2006) Ė Poor JPMorgan Chase Bank! The out-of-state banking big shot bought BankOne, and now they have to pay for it. So they've been charging local customers "Insufficient Funds" fees, even when there is money in the account to cover outstanding checks and debit-card purchases. I woke up one day recently to find a whopping $150 hole in my bottom line, thanks to a service fee for "Insufficient Funds" on about $300 worth of purchases when there was more than $1,000 in my checking account.
So I went down to East Wisconsin Avenue and North Water Street to ask the manager to go over my account and tell me where I failed to cover a purchase.
"I don't have to tell you," Jeff Childs said. "Read the customer agreement. That's how we do business."
Despite Mr. Childs' friendly and courteous demeanor while robbing me, I persisted by sending letters to the banking regulators and the Better Business Bureau. Mr. Childs then advised me I was free to take my business elsewhere. Of course, he is from Connecticut and they know all about freedom up there in New England.
But I dismissed his suggestion after careful thought and after a couple of weeks of writing and calling, visiting and discussing, I filed a small claims suit in Circuit Court. It cost less than $90 plus $25 for serving the bank with notice they are being sued.
That same day I got a call from the bank telling me as a "courtesy" they were reversing the charges.
I don't think so.
First, don't call it a courtesy. I put my money in the bank so that it is safe from thieves, NOT so the bank can steal it. When stolen money is returned, it is not a "courtesy." It is an attempt to avoid punishment. If every petty thief caught stealing from Walgreen's could just return the lipstick as a courtesy when they are caught, what's the incentive for them to stop stealing?
How about a bank robber getting caught at the door and giving the money back as a courtesy? Iím sure Mr. Childs would forgive and forget, despite the federal laws that forbid stealing money from a bank.
Now, the bank has hired a lawyer to protect the architects of this consumer fraud from having to be "embarrassed" by talking about their actions under oath. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Milwaukee County Court House before Judge Brennan.
We had our first court date August 14 and the bank apparently thought being rich was enough to win. The New York-based trillionaire didn't bother to hire a lawyer for that hearing, and Mr. Childs didnít show up, either. Instead, First Vice President Brian C. Thurman wasted an hour of his time waiting for the case to be called so he could make his offer before Court Commissioner Grace Flynn to give me back the filing fee, service fee and make things right. Letís let bygones be bygones, he might have been thinking now that the bank was in court.
No, not just yet. I want to drag it out a little longer; have the bank do some soul searching, or vault searching or whatever it is that people like Mr. Childs from Connecticut have squeezed in between their bile ducts and wallets. So we go back for further proceedings on Sept. 18.
Small claims is not really appropriate for the kind of wire fraud and racketeering one might argue JPMorgan Chase Bank engages in as it takes money entrusted to it from depositorsí accounts. Maybe after taking the depositions of Mr. Childs and Mr. Thurman next week Ė it shouldnít take more than a couple of hours Ė Iíll ask for the case to be dismissed without prejudice and re-file in federal court. I can do that myself for a couple of hundred bucks, and although JPMorgan Chase Bank has plenty of money to hire lawyers to defend itself when low-level management gets arrogant it is money well spent if we succeed in training Mr. Childs to be service oriented. A bank that spends tens of thousands of dollars fighting some pro se customer over $114 is pretty stupid, and you might wonder whether YOUR money is safe there. But Mr. Childs is free to find employment elsewhere if he canít live within my sense of how a bank should operate.
Meanwhile, Iíll see you at the deposition, Mr.
Childs of Connecticut, if not on Friday, then at another place and another
time. Thatís how we do business here in Milwaukee.
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