This week a heartbreaking and very strange video of an elderly bus monitor being verbally harassed by the students under her watch took over the Internet. A spectator decided that the bus monitor, Karen Klein, deserved a vacation, and launched an indiegogo campaign — sort of like Kickstarter, but a bit looser — to get her $5,000 toward a vacation. But donors have proved substantially more generous, giving Klein more than 100 times that amount, currently. She’ll have enough to retire comfortably, thanks to the kindness of strangers, because a kid filmed her being bullied by people decades younger than she is, and put it up on YouTube. Klein might go down in history as having earned the strangest half-million dollars in history. For the rest of us who are fortunate enough to not get bullied by teenagers, but unfortunate to not get $500,000 dropped in our lap, we’ll have to plan ahead. And with that in mind, here is everything you missed this week.
The fallout from the Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act continues, even though it went into effect nearly a year ago. Wells Fargo raised the monthly fee on its Value Checking account to $9, from $5 a month. Simon lamented the complete and utter lack of consumer savings from the Durbin amendment. Retailers might be saving on debit interchange now, but the loss of free checking probably hurts consumers’ wallets more than theoretical savings passed down from retailers.
Perhaps you’re angry with your financial institution? You probably should be! But you probably didn’t do anything about it when Bank Transfer Day rolled around last fall, according to a study by Javelin Research Group. We spoke with Javelin about their research, which found that, for most customers, convenience trumps fees. Even if megabanks might have infuriated customers with monthly fees, by offering things like mobile banking, large ATM networks and mobile deposit, they’ve been able to retain an otherwise dissatisfied clientele.
Speaking of mobile, Microsoft surprised the Apple-obsessed tech press with the unveiling of its surprisingly elegant Windows Phone 8. It should likely surprise no one, however, that the phone comes with a mobile wallet built in.
You’ll be able to pay for your groceries with the tap of your phone soon…but it takes three to five business days for your bank to transfer money, using computers. It’s a strange misallocation of technological prowess, that we seem to be putting hyper-efficient layers of solutions atop something so old and broken, but this week there was a ray of hope — from Iowa. Dwolla launched its FiSync program with Veridian Credit Union, meaning users will finally be able to transfer money instantly between bank accounts, without slow ACH wait times.
Over in Washington, we’ve had more of the same. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its credit card complaint database to the public, in an effort to keep the credit card industry honest — which, good luck. And the Federal Reserve announced that it will continue with ‘Operation Twist’ in order to keep interest rates low. Because, you know, this has been doing wonders for the economy and we’d hate to switch horses midstream.
And of course, some news just made us scratch our heads this week. Did you hear the one about the Karl Marx credit card? How about the ATM that doesn’t dispense cash? Or Facebook’s currency that never was? No? Tough crowd, we’ll see you next week.