Recently when Bank of America began implementing monthly fees to debit card holders, a 22 year-old recent college graduate decided to fight back. Molly Katchpole of Washington DC was so mad she started an on line petition and got 300,000 people to sign it.
The petition read, in part: “The American people bailed out Bank of America during a financial crisis the banks helped create. … How can you justify squeezing another $60 a year from your debit card customers? This is despicable.”
Using the power of social media, Molly posted her petition on the website Change.org, a site dedicated to “empowering you to create real change in your community, city, or country” and got 300,000 to sign up, gained national media exposure and got people to exit Bank of America.
In light of the protests against Wall Street and big business, the timing may not have been too fortuitous for Bank of America and other banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo who also recently began testing $3 monthly debit card fees. But the good news is that Bank of America listened to their consumers and scrapped the fees with the other banks following suit–and consumers have Molly to thank for leading the charge.
Michael McCauley, a spokesman for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports Magazine, said the petition was a sign that Bank of America had misjudged its customers, just as Netflix did when it tried to divide its DVD-rental and online streaming businesses. He called Katchpole an inspiration to consumers who feel they are being treated poorly.
Social media has given a powerful voice to the consumer and is creating a paradigm for marketers in how we do business. Listening is the new doing.