This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

How Bank of America Can Win Back Customers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Netflix (NFLX) hasn't exactly been a model of consumer friendliness during the past several months, but there was at least one thing the company did right during the price hike and aborted Qwikster experiment: clear communication. As customers raged against the now-infamous 60% price hike, CEO Reed Hastings emailed Netflix's customers in an attempt to placate them.

"I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation," he wrote in September. "I offer my sincere apology."
Bank of America has been quiet in defeat after the debit card fee debacle, but there are some things the bank should be saying.

Bank of America (BAC), of course, recently found itself dealing with similar customer revolt after it announced in September a planned $5 per month debit card usage fee starting in 2012. Unlike Wells Fargo (WFC), which tested a $3 monthly debit card fee in several states to gauge customer reaction, Bank of America did not test the fees before the plans were announced, and after weeks of relentless criticism and customer defections, abruptly reversed course Tuesday, announcing it would kill the proposed fee and had no plans to resurrect it. In contrast to Netflix's correspondence with its customers, the announcement was terse and to the point, with the bank's co-chief operating officer David Darnell noting that "We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern."

For some consumers, simply killing the fee won't be enough to repair the relationship.

"They have a long way to go to build back that trust," says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. "They need to say, 'We're sorry, we need to listen better, and we're interested in establishing a long-term relationship with you.'"

For Rheingold, the proposed fee was just the most public manifestation of what he sees as a worrying trend among the large banks, in which deposit customers and mortgage holders are treated as profit engines -- "their own version of cash machines," in his words -- rather than as partners in a relationship. It's a trend that's manifested itself in the form of shady mortgage servicing practices, but it wasn't until this latest move that the majority of customers began to take notice.

Perhaps it's unreasonable to expect Bank of America to apologize for a fee it never wound up implementing. But Bank of America customers will be acutely sensitive to any attempts to turn a profit at their expense in the future.

>To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $126.38 0.76%
FB $87.55 2.10%
GOOG $521.67 0.22%
TSLA $270.73 0.92%
YHOO $39.31 0.05%

Markets

DOW 17,752.93 +133.42 0.76%
S&P 500 2,076.47 +13.36 0.65%
NASDAQ 5,019.8840 +33.0170 0.66%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs