Day 128 or so:
Day 128 or so:
Say what you will about our corporate overlords at Morgan Chase, you can’t deny that they can tell which way the winds are blowing these days.
Proof of that is this announcement, below.
My favorite Chase Bank is the one on Oak and Divisadero. Isn’t it kewl?
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That’s right, it’s hella cool.
On a somewhat serious note, thanks for Chase Community Giving, Chase. That’s better than spending your money on a Super Bowl commercial or whathaveyou.
(But don’t get on my bad side, Chase, else it will be smashy smashy like what happened to your nearby competitor on Fell a couple Halloweens back.)
Anyway, you all can join the boycott,* I don’t care. As long as the Chase customers can have their bank branch on Oak, that’s fine.
Or take your money to a credit union, I don’t care.
And, oh, goran nasai, Amerika no Ginkoo. Mite, mite:
“Chase Announces it Won’t Charge Customers a Debit Card Fee - Consumers Union Calls On Bank of America to Drop its Plan to Charge a $5 Fee for Debit Card Purchases
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28, 2011 — JP Morgan Chase announced today that it will not charge its customers a $3 monthly debit card fee after testing the charge in Wisconsin and Georgia. The bank announced that it would drop the idea following negative reaction from its customers.
Consumers Union, the nonprofit advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today commended Chase for its decision and reiterated its call on Bank of America to end its plan to charge a $5 debit card fee beginning in 2012.
“Consumers Union has heard from thousands of consumers across the country who are outraged that Bank of America is instituting the $5 monthly debit card fee,” said Norma Garcia, manager of Consumers Union’s financial services program. ”It’s time for Bank of America to listen to its customers who are saying loud and clear: drop the fee or we’ll drop you. All banks that are considering debit card fees should ditch those plans.”
SunTrust has also started rolling out a similar debit card fee and Wells Fargo has been testing one in select markets. Earlier this month, Consumers Union called on Chase, Bank of America and these other banks to abandon plans to charge customers a fee for debit card purchases.
“It’s unfair for banks to stick consumers with a monthly fee just to use their own money,” said Garcia. ”The banks that charge debit card fees risk losing customers who are fed up with financial institutions that got bailed out that are now turning around and hiking fees.”
Consumers Union has published a set of tips for consumers who want to switch banks.
Saturday, November 5, has been dubbed Bank Transfer Day by grassroots activists upset with rising bank fees, including the new $5 debit card fee that Bank of America will start charging its customers in 2012. Consumers are being encouraged by Bank Transfer Day organizers to switch their accounts to credit unions or community banks on that day.
SOURCE Consumers Union”
Oh, there’s an updated version of this release. See it after the jump.
*Facebook, really? Heh. Home of the ephemeral…
Consumers Union is on the case.
They’re trying the old moral suasion - perhaps some enterprising pols will join in?
All the deets:
“Consumers Union Calls on Bank of America & Other Major Banks to Drop Unfair Debit Card Fees
CU: It’s Unfair to Charge Customers When Banks Collect Enough From Retailers to Cover Debit Card Costs
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 18, 2011 — Consumers Union called on Bank of America and other banks to drop plans to charge consumers monthly debit card fees. Bank of America recently announced it would charge its customers $5 each month starting in 2012 to make debit card purchases. SunTrust has started rolling out its own $5 fee and Wells Fargo and Chase are testing debit card fees in select markets.
“Americans are tired of being hit with new banking fees, especially since they’ve already paid to rescue firms like Bank of America, whose behavior helped spark the economic meltdown,” said Norma Garcia, director of Consumers Union’s financial services program. “This debit card fee just adds insult to injury. It’s unfair for the banks to stick consumers with a monthly fee just to use their own money. Bank of America and other banks can still collect enough money from retailers to cover debit card costs.”
Garcia added, “If Bank of America and the other banks refuse to drop the debit card fee, consumers should consider dropping them. There are plenty of banks and credit unions that don’t charge debit card fees that will be more than happy to accept new customers.”
Consumers Union has published a set of tips for consumers who want to switch banks.
Below is Consumers Union’s letter to Bank of America urging it to drop its debit card fee. Similar letters were sent to Chase, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo.”
See the letter after the jump.
From the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club comes word that Kent Schisler, the Examiner’s “SF Government Examiner,” is heading to jail for a short spell due to him harassing current and former employees of Wells Fargo Bank.
(And I get the impression that Kent didn’t really like the govmint too much before this latest tangle.)
On It Goes…
I’ll tell you, I worked at a bank back in the day, back in the pre-digital camera era, and I’ll tell you, there’s no way a typical analog camera would get this kind of image of an alleged bank robber. Particularly since the old-school cams had to be tripped manually when the time came, owing to the expense of film.
But these days, digital cameras is everywhere.
Anyway, if I were this fellow, I’d leave town, for a while anyway.
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SAN FRANCISCO POLICE SEEK PUBLIC’S HELP IN LOCATING SERIAL BANK ROBBERY SUSPECT (10-039)
San Francisco police are seeking the public’s help in locating a bank robbery suspect who has robbed four downtown San Francisco banks since March 22. In three of the incidents, the suspect approached a bank customer already at the teller window and placed a knife to the customer’s throat. While holding the knife, the suspect demanded and was given currency from the teller. The suspect then fled the bank. In one of the three incidents, the hostage victim suffered a non-life-threatening knife wound.
The first incident on March 22 occurred at Citibank, 1801 Van Ness Avenue. There was no customer threat or weapon used in this incident. Two days later, on March 24, the suspect entered the East West Bank at 743 Washington Street and held a knife to the throat of an Asian male customer at the teller window. On April 2, the suspect went into the Wells Fargo Bank at 1160 Grant Avenue and again held a knife to the throat of a customer, an Asian male. This was the incident in which the customer was injured.
On April 5, the suspect entered City National Bank, 150 California Street, stood behind a 90-year-old Hispanic female customer at the teller window, and held a knife to her throat. After demanding and receiving currency, the suspect fled the bank. The victim was not injured.
The suspect is described as an African-American male, 30-40, 6’, 175 lbs, black hair with mustache and goatee. The suspect wore a dark baseball cap in each incident. Surveillance photos of the suspect accompany this press release.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect is urged to contact Inspector Phillip Wong, Criminal Investigation Unit, 553-1201, to call the Confidential Tip Line, 415-575-4444, or to use Text-a-Tip by typing TIP411 or 847411 in the “To” field and “SFPD” in the text field.
For more information, please contact the Media Relations Unit, 553-1651
California State Attorney General Jerry Brown is announcing a huge, “b”-as-in-boy, $1.4 billion settlement with affiliates of Well Fargo today. That means that if you bought certain auction-rate securities based on “misleading advice” from any of three Wells affiliates, well, you’re going to get your money back. Hurray!
All the deets are below.
El Protector De La Gente, Jerry Brown:
Here they are:
“Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a landmark $1.4 billion settlement with three Wells Fargo affiliates to pay back investors, charities and small businesses that purchased auction-rate securities based on “misleading advice.”
“Wells Fargo convinced thousands of investors to purchase auction-rate securities with promises of robust returns and liquidity, but when the market collapsed, investors were left out in the cold,” Brown said. “Based on misleading advice, investors bought these risky securities. Now, retail investors and small businesses are finally getting their money back.”
Under today’s settlement, Wells Fargo will buy back $1.4 billion in non-liquid auction-rate securities from thousands of retail customers, charities, and small businesses nationwide, including about $700 million to California investors. Wells Fargo will also pay legal costs and future monitoring expenses incurred by Brown’s office. In February 2008, nationwide auction markets froze, and investors have been unable to sell their securities.
Earlier this year, Brown filed the suit against three Wells Fargo affiliates-Wells Fargo Investments, LLC; Wells Fargo Brokerage Services, LLC; and Wells Fargo Institutional Securities, LLC-for violating California’s Securities Law. Brown’s suit contended that Wells Fargo routinely misrepresented, marketed and sold auction-rate securities as safe, liquid and cash-like investments, omitting material facts.
The company was also charged with failing to supervise and train its sales agents and selling unsuitable investments. The lawsuit contended that Wells Fargo ignored clear industry and internal warnings about risk and previous auction failure.
In March 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the “Big 4″ accounting firms, and the Financial Accounting Standards Board all determined that auction-rate securities should not be considered “cash equivalents.” Despite these warnings, Wells Fargo continued to aggressively sell and falsely market auction-rate securities as safe, liquid, cash-like investments until the nationwide auction markets froze in early 2008.
In marketing and selling these investments, Wells Fargo failed to inform investors about how auction-rate securities or the auction process worked, as well as the risks and consequences of auction failure.”
Ever more deets, after the jump.
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Yes, it’s all free. See you next year!
“The San Francisco theater scene can become stronger and more vigorous, appealing to community members who do not currently benefit from the contribution theater arts make to one’s life through activities like the Theater Festival. Director Peter Sellars has noted that bringing people together for a shared theatrical experience does more than create good art; it creates and nurtures a sense of community and an interest in the common good.
The Festival creates access and expands the theater audience. Working together to put on the Festival, the theater community conducts a large-scale event that gains the attention of the broader community. The Festival induces cross-pollination of audiences as attendees interested in one performing group stay to see others. As the Festival grows, we will see theater audiences expanding, leading to more performances, more productions, and more theater jobs, as well as a richer cultural experience for all community members.
While there are festivals for film, dance, jazz, blue grass, beer, and wine, there is no comparable festival for theater. The San Francisco Theater Festival is unique. This is the only showcase for Bay Area live theater, presenting the full spectrum of theater groups. This is the only festival that takes place on one day or a single weekend, providing the audience with an opportunity to sample conveniently the many theaters available here. This is the only FREE festival, thereby providing open access to all.”
All the Players, after the jump.
Combative California Attorney Jerry Brown held a news conference today that was all about a $1.5 b as in “boy” billion dollar lawsuit against three affiliates of Wells Fargo Bank concerning auction rate securities. Approximately 2000 upset investors will be cheering this action on. But let’s hear the rejoinder from Wells:
“Wells Fargo Investments Chief Executive Charles Daggs said that ‘Wells Fargo could not have predicted these extraordinary circumstances, and even with the benefit of hindsight is not responsible for them.’”
O.K. then, on with the lawsuit.
Brown and Brown, together again. “I’m a reporter” Willie Brown grills Jerry Brown after the press conference in the Civic Center State Building:
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Here’s the full skivvy from Director of Communications Scott Gerber:
Brown Sues Wells Fargo Affiliates to Recover $1.5 Billion for Defrauded California Investors
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today filed suit against three Wells Fargo affiliates to recover $1.5 billion for California investors who purchased auction-rate securities based on “false and deceptive” advice that these financial instruments were “as safe and liquid as cash.”
“Wells Fargo’s affiliates promised investors auction-rate securities were as safe and liquid as cash, when in fact they were not, and now investors are unable to get their money when they need it,” Attorney General Brown said. “This lawsuit seeks to recover $1.5 billion for Californians and holds these companies accountable for giving investors false and deceptive advice.”
Auction-rate securities are investments with long-term maturity dates (e.g., bonds) that Wells Fargo and other banks marketed as short-term investments equivalent to cash. These investments paid a slightly better rate of return than a bank account. And, investors could sell the securities at regular weekly or monthly auctions which provided the promise of liquidity.
In February 2008, these auctions froze up nationwide, and investors were no longer able to redeem their securities for cash, as promised. This left approximately 2,400 Californians who had invested with Wells Fargo without access to more than $1.5 billion. Almost 40% of Wells Fargo’s auction-rate securities were held by Californians, far more than any other state nationwide.
By August 2008, major financial institutions including UBS, Citigroup, Wachovia, and Merrill Lynch met their obligations to investors and restored the cash value of these securities. The three Wells Fargo affiliates, however, have refused to do so.
Consequently, Attorney General Brown filed his complaint in San Francisco Superior Court today to restore the cash value of these securities, force the companies to disgorge any subsequent profits tied to the securities, and obtain civil penalties of $25,000 per violation. This could amount to hundreds of millions in civil penalties.
The suit contends that three Wells Fargo’s affiliates – Wells Fargo Investments, LLC, Wells Fargo Brokerage Services, LLC, and Wells Fargo Institutional Securities, LLC – violated California’s Securities Law by:
- Routinely misrepresenting, marketing and selling auction-rate securities as safe, liquid and cash-like investments similar to certificates of deposit or money-market accounts and omitting material facts in violation of California Corporations Code 25401;
- Offering and selling, as a broker-dealer, securities by means of a manipulative, deceptive or other fraudulent scheme, device, or contrivance in violation of California Corporations Code 25216(a);
- Marketing and selling auction-rate securities to investors for whom these investments were unsuitable in violation of California Corporations Code 25216(c) and California Code of Regulations, title 10, section 260.218.2; and
- Failing to supervise and adequately train sales agents pushing these investments in violation of California Corporations Code 25216(c) and California Code of Regulations, title 10, section 260.218.4.
In marketing and selling these investments, Wells Fargo’s affiliates ignored clear industry and internal warning about risk and previous auction failure:
- In March 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the “Big 4″ accounting firms, and the Financial Accounting Standards Board all determined that auction-rate securities should not be considered “cash equivalents.”
Despite these warnings, Wells Fargo’s affiliates continued to aggressively sell and falsely market auction-rate securities as safe, liquid, cash-like investments until the nationwide auction markets froze in February 2008.
In marketing and selling these investments, Wells Fargo’s affiliates failed to inform investors about how auction-rate securities or the auction process worked and the risks and consequences of auction failure.
Following the collapse of these auctions, Wells Fargo’s affiliates took advantage of the situation and offered loan programs to those who needed immediate access to the money tied up in these investments.
Investments ranged from $25,000 to millions, and investors included small businesses and small business owners, retirees, married couples, and other hard working Californians. These investors were led to believe they were putting their savings and assets into a safe and accessible place, but instead, they were left without access to their cash, leading to serious hardship. For example:
- A Southern California woman suffering from lung cancer and needing extra funds to help treat her illness sold her home and put the money into a Wells Fargo savings account. A Wells Fargo agent later recommended she put the money into an account with a higher interest rate. When the woman told the agent she needed to access the money and could not afford to lose any of it, she was reassured that her money would be safe like cash. Without disclosing the nature of the investment, the agent invested the funds in auction-rate securities and when the auctions failed, the woman could not access her money.
- A Bay Area company invested $400,000 in a money market account until it was solicited by phone to invest in what was described to them as a liquid, money market-like-account. They were told the only difference was the amount of notice needed to pull the funds (one week vs. one day). The funds were intended to help the business expand, but after the auctions failed, employees were instead laid off. The company was never informed that they were investing in auction-rate securities or that there were substantial risks tied to the investment.