Somehow it just seemed fitting that among Andy Spano’s official acts in his last year in office was giving JPMorgan Chase Bank a long-term lease deal at the Westchester County Airport. This was right around the time that the banking industry was accepting billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout funds, and right around the time that Chase purchased two corporate jets for $138 million.
The whole thing seemed to round out a decade of rampant fraud and greed, aided and abetted by government. It’s as if these guys were actually pissing on us from 30,000 feet.
The financial abuse that Chase and other ruthless, over-sized banks have visited on ordinary consumers has been well chronicled. During the so-called “New Gilded Age,” Chase managed to become arguably the most hated bank in U.S. history from the standpoint of how they treat customers. They’re so awful that an entire Web site was created that allows people to post comments on just how much “Chase sucks.”
In a recent column, I wrote how I may be among 60,000 mortgage customers who are entitled to a piece of a $20 million class-action settlement with Chase which allegedly charged post closing fees for which they provided no discernible service in return. When I got a notice about the settlement in the mail, I wasn’t surprised in the least.
Chase’s ethical lapses were nothing new to me. Their credit card division, an infamous den of double-dealers and thieves, has a particular appetite for frightened old people like my late mother-in-law who couldn’t pay her monthly bill for all the needless fees and charges that had been heaped on her. It’s not merely the tactic of fine print that rakes in the ill-gotten gains. The arsenal of corporate mugging includes fast double-talk, purposeful failure to fully disclose, outright lies and even threats.
In response to my column, a landlord who leases space to a Chase bank branch wrote me the following e-mail.
Have just finished negotiating a lease extension for a one of the branches Chase has in the Bronx. They had the BALLS to ask for a rent reduction. Even though I am now heavily medicated, I blew my top. Told them that they were responsible for the mess we’re in and that they are being bailed out on the taxpayers dime. Said I’d only raise their rent by the percentage they raised the fees on my Chase accounts. They said one has nothing to do with the other. I said BULL#%@*. It has everything to do with it.
You shoulda been there.