Mission 3 Report: The American Way

[Submitted by Adam Smith, outer-space]

Several years ago I signed up for Bank of America’s online notification system. They told me that all notifications would be delivered to me electronically instead of to my official address which, since I haven’t lived at home in nearly a decade, seemed to make sense. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out as well as they’d advertised.

Unwittingly, I overdrew on my checking account. Then I withdrew again. And again… Unfortunately I don’t check my account balance daily so by the time I noticed, I was thoroughly screwed. For every purchase I’d made in the red, they’d slapped me with a $37.50 fee. $4.51 at CVS,$37.50 fee. $12.37 at Peking Garden, $37.50. The list goes on. Total damage exceeded $300.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t have the funds to justify my spending. In fact, at the time I had several thousand dollars stagnating in my savings account, which was also through Bank of America. I’d thought I’d transferred a couple of hundred more from my savings account to my checking account but apparently I hadn’t.

Had Bank of America notified me of my mistake electronically, I would have been able to remedy it right away and only faced one $37.50 fee. Instead, they sent notification exclusively to my physical address. It took the letter several days to arrive. Pretty pathetic but, in my case, it didn’t matter, because I didn’t live at home. Since my parents generally throw all my mail unread in a pile for me to sift through whenever I visit, I wouldn’t have seen it for months. It was lucky I checked my balance when I did, or I’d probably be in jail now, with debt exceeding the GDPs of many African nations.

Well, I quickly learned my lesson, and through threat of legal action managed to get a fraction of the fees back, but I was still left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

And, recently, I narrowly evaded another brutal mugging. This time Bank of America tried (feebly) to notify me that because I haven’t been a student for quite some time, I’m no longer eligible for student discounts and as a result they would start charging me monthly service fees unless I had sufficiently high funds in my checking account, which I didn’t. Do you think they sent this notification to me electronically? HELL NO! Luckily, I’d instructed my parents to read any mail addressed to me from Bank of America, and they warned me in time so that with a little juggling between my accounts, I was able to get my checking account narrowly over the limit while maintaining my savings account at a balance sufficiently high to escape racking up fees on it.

The work of art I’ve created in response is farily simple. It’s a modified version of an ad released by Bank of America promoting its dysfunctional online notification system:

You can view the original advertisement here.

I printed out a few copies of my work and left them lying around near ATMs. I also plan to take out a facebook ad, although I’ll have to wait ’til my next paycheck for fear of dragging my account just below the limiting, and having to forfeit some of my hard earned dinero to the Evil Empire.

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