Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 22-Year-Old Who Led the Charge Against Bank of America

When Bank of America announced it would charge customers a $5 monthly debit card fee in late September, it probably did not count on a 22-year old woman standing in its way. But for Molly Katchpole, a 2011 college graduate who works two part-time jobs in Washington, D.C. and lives paycheck to paycheck, the annual increase of $60 was just plain unacceptable. "I heard the news about the fee, and was like, 'That is it. I'm sick of this,'" says the daughter of a Rhode Island machinist and a physical therapist. "On the one hand they are running a business, but on the other hand, it is people's money they are working with, and some people don't have a lot of money. It's not like they are just selling toothbrushes — it goes much deeper than that."

So Katchpole turned to Change.org, an online platform that publishes petitions and mobilizes community campaigns. Her open letter to Bank of America to withdraw the new fee went viral. She closed her Bank of America account, cut up her debit card on camera, and moved her money to a community bank. And Americans flooded her with support. One month and 306,000 signatures later, she won: Bank of America removed the extra charge on Nov. 1. more