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I recently suckered into a business account with BOA for what must be the 3rd time in my life. You go in and are greeted by a lovely young man or woman with very good professional skills. They sell you on a business account with so-called features that seem like they will enhance your life. You then look into it and it’s nothing you really need if you are like me. You realize that all of the details of how they are trained to look, talk, and go talk to their manager for coaching on how to handle you, are a highly honed, big corporate game and you are the prey. That’s what I just went through with a young lady named Emily and her manager Jess at the Woodlands, Texas branch.
In an era where banking and financial services have become an indispensable part of our lives, it’s crucial to be cautious about the institutions we entrust with our hard-earned money. While most banks strive to provide reliable services and maintain ethical practices, there are some that resort to predatory tactics, putting their customers at risk. In this blog post, we will shed light on the predatory practices of certain banks, with a specific focus on Bank of America merchant accounts, and discuss other subscriptions that demand scrutiny.
Bank of America Merchant Accounts: A Closer Look
Bank of America, being one of the largest and most prominent banks in the United States, is often seen as a trustworthy institution. However, in recent times, concerns have arisen about certain practices within its merchant account services. A merchant account is essentially a bank account that allows businesses to accept credit card payments from customers. Here are some predatory practices associated with Bank of America’s merchant accounts:
a. Hidden Fees
Many businesses have reported encountering unexpected and hidden fees when using Bank of America merchant accounts. These fees, not clearly disclosed upfront, can significantly impact a company’s bottom line.
b. Unreasonable Contract Terms
Some merchants have faced challenges when trying to terminate their contracts with Bank of America. Long-term commitments and hefty termination fees can bind businesses to unfavorable agreements.
c. Inadequate Customer Support
Poor customer service and lack of responsiveness to merchant queries can exacerbate the issues faced by businesses using Bank of America’s merchant accounts. For example, and this is one of the things I think they did by design, I ended up getting this number for Merchant Services 800-430-7161, and they aren’t available when I am not working. Then they directed me to go to a branch where I have been directed back to this number.
- Other Subscriptions with Predatory Practices
Apart from banking services, other types of subscriptions may also engage in predatory practices that exploit unsuspecting consumers. Here are some other areas to be wary of:
a. Subscription Services with Automatic Renewals: Some companies make it difficult for users to cancel subscriptions by automatically renewing them without clear notification. This can lead to customers unknowingly paying for services they no longer wish to use.
b. Misleading Free Trials: Certain subscription services lure customers with free trial offers, but they bury the terms and conditions, leading to unexpected charges once the trial period ends.
c. Overpriced Services: Some subscriptions charge exorbitant fees for services that can be obtained elsewhere at a much lower cost, taking advantage of customers’ lack of awareness.
- Tips to Protect Yourself
To safeguard your finances and protect yourself from predatory practices, follow these tips:
a. Read the Fine Print: Always read the terms and conditions of any subscription or contract thoroughly before committing.
b. Stay Informed: Research customer reviews and complaints about the bank or subscription service you are considering.
c. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the bank or subscription service for clarification on any unclear terms or fees.
d. Regularly Review Your Accounts: Regularly check your bank statements and subscription charges to identify any discrepancies or unauthorized charges.
e. File a Complaint: I filed a complaint with the bank but as mentioned earlier, the whole bank or organization is often in on it. I recommend filing a complaint with the consumer advocate for the attorney general, the BBB, and then by all means post reviews. A lot of the time, you really are just the prey, they tell you what they need to seem professional but then say something different behind closed doors.
f. Keep Searching for Better Fintech Companies: As everyone, including Twitter, now X.com becomes a fintech, bad actors deserve to go under if they treat us like prey. Elon Musk said it for the car industry when he disrupted the predatory style of the auto sales industry, you feel like prey. Support companies like Tesla that are trying to improve on their models. Here are 200 fintech companies to watch. Let me know in the comments section which ones you think I should support.
While banks like Bank of America continue to be widely used and trusted, it is essential to remain vigilant about the potential for predatory practices in the financial sector. By being aware of the pitfalls and knowing how to protect ourselves, we can make informed decisions about the banks we choose and the subscriptions we sign up for. Remember, knowledge is power, and arming ourselves with information will help us avoid falling victim to unscrupulous practices and ensure our financial well-being.