Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

JPMorgan Chase is no friend of the family

Less than a month after unceremoniously dumping the WaMu brand and finishing the process of stamping out all traces of the former Seattle-based financial giant, Chase has again rankled the Emerald City with its decision to stop sponsoring One Reel's fireworks show on Lake Union, a commitment it inherited when it grabbed WaMu from the FDIC at a ridiculous rock-bottom price last September.

Judging from the comment threads attached to the articles that disclosed the news on Seattle area forums, Chase's decision isn't making the bank any friends. And it comes at a particularly odd time, since the financial behemoth is in the midst of a West Coast marketing campaign designed to convince Washingtonians, Oregonians, and Californians not to take their business elsewhere.

But that's precisely what many people are doing. Repulsed by Chase's disinterest in the community, annoyed by its deceptive business practices, and disgusted by its greed, people are fleeing Chase for the safety of local credit unions like BECU or Qualstar, which offer lower fees, better rates, and superior customer service. Here's a sampling of that sentiment from the Seattle Times' comment thread:
chase has pulled out from supporting most of the non profits that wamu stood by, too, so everyone I know is pulling their assets out of has pulled out from

- Weaverwoman, July 10, 2009 at 7:51 AM

“Good Morning Chase Bank,……I mean Afternoon to you….

Sooooooo, it looks like you will be our new ‘local’ bank……I’m calling from Washington……..State….you know….south of Alaska…north of California…………Pacific ocean…………”

I love that commercial….it kinda spells it all out in terms of our relationship with the rest of the country…..

- fanofoldseattle, July 10, 2009 at 7:38 AM

Chase has no interest in this community. Their abundant advertising that completely misses the mark is proof of that. This is just another example for all those who were still questioning whether they did. All they want is our money. Now is the time to move your money from Chase, if they've left you with any.

- penguinschu, July 10, 2009 at 8:40 AM

used to bank with WAMU and it didn't take long to realize Chase is awful. Switched to BECU for much better terms on the account, credit card, line of credit. There is absolutely no reason to stay with Chase. They make absolutely no bones about the fact that all they want is your money but won't do anything to facilitate your business. Personally, I'd like to see them go under. Close your accounts today.

- Profmox, July 10, 2009 at 9:19 AM

I didn't really need another reason to pull my money out of Chase, but this is just another reason on a long list that has convinced me.

- Hoim, July 10, 2009 at 9:14 AM

I've been watching with naive optimism that Chase might be worthy of my business, but this kind of ham-handed move demonstrates that they are nothing but a big company interested only in profit. They've lost my business. I've been a member of Group Health Credit Union for a long time, and while they haven't been my primary bank, they've always been extremely helpful and have offered the best rates on car loans and my recent refi. I'm giving them all my business.

- Hogie98105, July 10, 2009 at 9:08 AM

Been a WaMu customer for many years and have always been pleased with the service until Chase took over. I'm going to bail on them and switch to BECU.

Good riddance Chase... You suck......

- timmy3923, July 10, 2009 at 8:56 AM
While bailing out of our fireworks show, Chase is also working hard to squeeze more money out of its customers. For example, Chase is just notifying some of its credit card customers that their grace period on new purchases is being reduced from twenty five days to twenty.

They are also changing the terms for their best customers, who enjoyed fixed rates in the past, but will now have to put up with variable rates.

What's more, customers who aren't using their Chase credit cards at all may find their accounts closed in short order. This is standard practice across the industry, but Chase exemplifies it. Several friends have told me that that Chase has cut off their credit, and an account representative at Chase confirmed to me, (when I asked) that the company does indeed close accounts - sometimes merely as soon as six months after a customer brings their balance down to zero.

Chase's behavior should come as no surprise to anyone who knows its history. Formed in 2000 in a merger, JPMorgan Chase is descended primary from three large New York banking conglomerates: The Manhattan Company, formed in 1877 by Aaron Burr (yes, that's the guy who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel and begged Napoleon to invade America), Chase National Bank, and J.P. Morgan & Co.

The latter two companies reached the initial apex of their power during the Gilded Age, a time of extraordinary greed in the United States. (Sound familiar?) Nothing was more important than the pursuit of money, and America suffered for it.

J.P. Morgan & Co., also known as the House of Morgan, was concisely described this way by Kenneth Davis in Don't Know Much About History, published in 1990:
The son of a banker, Morgan had not only avoided fighting in the Civil War, but had profited handsomely from it. By the turn of the century, Morgan had his hand in almost every major financial undertaking in America. His banking house was a millionaires' club that loaned money to other banks. Through Morgan, a small group of men were able to take control of the railroads of America, and by 1900 Morgan owned half of America's track mileage. His friends owned much of the rest, enabling them to set the railroad rates across the country.
And as for Chase, founded in 1877 by John Thompson and named after Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase (with whom it had no connection), it became one of the largest banks in the country during the Gilded Age, and eventually came to be controlled by the Rockefeller family when it merged with the Rockefellers' Equitable Trust Company in 1930. (John D. Rockefeller, as most readers will recall, was the tycoon or robber baron who founded Standard Oil, America's most infamous and hated monopoly).

In short, today's JPMorgan Chase, like its ancestors, is just another big, powerful Wall Street bank run by ruthless, greedy men who care only about profit, not people or planet. Many decades have gone by since Morgan, Chase, and Manhattan were founded, but not much has changed, except that the banking industry has become more consolidated and powerful than ever before. That's not good for competition, not good for capitalism, and not good for regular folks.

We would all be wise to stop doing business with JPMorgan Chase and instead build relationships with local financial institutions that are invested in the community, especially credit unions (which are member owned). It's the most important way we can put our money to work for the beautiful region we live in.


Blogger Otter said...

I have to admit that I do not bank locally. I bank with Bank of America. I used to bank with BECU but to be perfectly honest I found that their branches were not convenient enough to where I was so I pulled out. I have personally never had a problem with Bank of America.

However, Chase is a company who I could never fathom giving my money to. A company like this is not worth my business.

Hopefully, if enough people in Washington pull their accounts from Chase, maybe they will sell WaMu back as a substantial loss just to get rid of it.

July 13, 2009 8:15 PM  

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