Starting late last week, large banks began killing off new monthly fees for debit card holders. Chase and Wells Fargo were first, with the trend spreading to regional banks like SunTrust on Monday. Even Bank of America, whose $5 monthly fee stirred up widespread consumer outrage, appears to be backing off. "Progressive bloggers are celebrating and crediting Occupy Wall Street" for the change of heart, says Tim Mak at Politico. But is it really fair to score this a victory for the amorphous Occupy movement?
Yes. Give Occupy its victory lap: "For a movement without an agenda, Occupy Wall Street is off to a pretty good start," says Dan Freed at The Street. Sure, the leaderless, agenda-less Occupiers didn't specifically demand that big banks abandon the debit card fees. But "it does not take a genius to figure out" that this is the kind of greed Occupiers are protesting against, and that the movement's glaring spotlight generated the needed heat to melt the banks' resolve.
"Bank fee debacle is the first Occupy Wall Street victory"
No. If anything, this should teach Occupy to change its tactics: This is "a big victory for consumers," not Occupiers, says Mike Gavin in The Wall Street Journal. In fact, the Wall Street "protesters might be better served taking a lesson from the debit card" debacle: Voting with your cash, as consumers did by threatening to withhold their business from big banks charging these fees, is more effective than camping out in a park. As the banks' quick surrender shows, "the 1 percent is listening, you just have to know which ear is the 'good' ear" — and it's "the one closet to the wallet."
"Looking to be heard on Wall Street? Stop shouting into the deaf ear"
Occupy Wall Street is just one of the victors: If anyone deserves credit for the banks "furiously backtracking on their fee," it's probably Bank of America, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. The banking giant "screwed with" its customers just in time to run smack into the "backlash against greedy banks from the Occupy Wall Street protests." BofA's $5 debit card fee "single-handedly revived the Move Your Money movement," and other banks seem to be scrambling to hang onto their customers as a result.
"Bank of America begins walkback on $5 debit card fee"
The banks will win in the end: "There's no such thing as a free lunch," and the banks will certainly figure out another way to make this money, says John Aiden Byrne in the New York Post. A likely vehicle? The "double-digit finance charges" cardholders pay for bank-issued credit cards. So while the banks appear to be "caving in to customer protests," most customers will pay for the conveniences of modern banking one way or another.
"Pay for rewards"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- These 5 things will definitely happen after Obama moves on immigration
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- On immigration, Obama is flirting with tyranny
- What could happen if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Hillary Clinton needs to win big in 2016. Here's how she can do it.
- 10 things you need to know today: November 20, 2014
- How neuroscience can help us understand political partisanship
- How to rescue the American family and fix the broken school system in one fell swoop
Subscribe to the Week