Walmart Under Fire for 'Sneaky' Tactic
AOL.COM - It's not just local non-profit credit unions that are benefiting from anger directed at big banks -- the world's largest retailer is also getting a boost.
The number of customers taking advantage of Walmart's financial services -- which include cash checking for a flat fee, bill paying and even wiring money overseas -- has risen alongside the recent surge in outrage at big banks, The New York Times reports. Though the retail giant scrapped plans four years ago to get a federal bank charter, it's quietly become a destination for consumers who are unhappy with their banks or simply don't have an account, according to the NYT.
A slew of unhappy customers and lawmakers eventually convinced Bank of America to earlier this month abandon its plan to charge customers $5 per month to use their debit cards for purchases starting next year.
And BofA wasn't the first to back away from a fee. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase as well as other regional banks dropped plans to charge consumers for debit fee use after watching the outrage unfold, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For some angry at bank fees, Walmart could become a one-stop shopping for their financial needs. H&R Block, the tax prep services firm, announced last month that it would open kiosks in hundreds of Walmarts across the country to assist customers with their taxes. The company also started offering a Discover credit card in 2005, according to Businessweek.
At least 650,000 people opened new credit union accounts from September 29 -- the date Bank of America announced its debit card fee -- through the first week of November, according to the Credit Union National Association. That's more than the 600,000 customers who opened new credit union accounts in all of 2010.
The retail giant has been in the business of providing financial services for more than five years, but access to financial products isn't the only way the company keeps consumers in its store. Customers can get their car batteries checked and installed at some Walmart locations, to name just one of many examples; they can also get an eye exam in Walmart vision centers.
Debit card fees or not, some consumers have opted to move their money elsewhere. Saturday marked the deadline of a social media push to encourage consumers to pull their savings out of banks and push it into credit unions. Tens of thousands said last week that they planned to attend the Bank Transfer Day event and protests commemorating the day took place in Los Angeles, Denver and elsewhere across the country.
Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>
PULLMAN, Wash. - Six-year-old Denny Curran should be enjoying his last few days of summer before first grade. He should be teasing his brother, splashing in the pool, giving his parents a hard time about vegetables. Instead, Denny is dead, the victim of a horrific, freak bicycle accident that could happen to your child too. "Denny was an extraordinary child," his father Keith Curran told KHQ.>>
SPOKANE, Wash. - Court documents are offering more details about a disturbing case of child abuse in Spokane. Investigators arrested 33-year-old Erik Sherman in the death of his baby Thursday. One doctor who witnessed the abuse told investigators in court documents it was "one of the worst cases of child abuse he had seen in 23 years of practice.">>
FOREST CITY, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina authorities say a man fatally shot by a teenager while strangling the girl's mother had faced domestic violence accusations in multiple states. The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office said 46-year-old Steven Kelley assaulted the mother at least one other time before the Aug. 8 attack that ended with his death.>>
SEATTLE (AP) - A school district in central Washington state is moving to four-day weeks when the school year begins later this month. KING-TV reports the Waterville School District will hold classes Monday through Thursday, giving students and faculty three-day weekends. Superintendent Tabatha Mires says the change aims to increase staff retention and recruitment as well as boost attendance and improve classroom experience.>>
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) - The teen accused of pushing her 16-year-old friend off a bridge at Moulton Falls earlier this month has been charged with reckless endangerment. The Clark County Attorney's Office said Friday that Tay'lor Smith is facing one count of reckless endangerment for the bridge push, which was caught on cell phone video. It sent Jordan Holgerson to the hospital with multiple injuries.>>
FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) - A lawyer for a Colorado man suspected in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters says the daughters' bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before they were found. Defense attorney James Merson made the statement in a court motion Friday. The motion asks a judge to order that DNA samples be taken from the children's throats.>>